Alexandria cemetery research links families

Charlene Napper knew she had family in the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery in Alexandria, but she didn’t know to what degree.

Her mother knew her great-grandmother had been a freed slave. Napper and her mother, Dorothy Taylor, 96, have been in Alexandria all their lives.

“We are truly true natives of Alexandria,” said Napper, 77, who said her ancestors arrived on the first slave ships to reach the Alexandria shore. “When they freed the slaves, we were the only ones who didn’t have the sense to leave,” she said.

The family met genealogist Char McCargo Bah, who was asked in 2008 to find descendants of the 1,800 freed and escaped slaves buried at the cemetery from 1864 to 1869. Bah used a record of deaths made at the time by the Rev. Albert Gladwin, Alexandria’s superintendent of contrabands, which is what escaped slaves were considered. Read more at the Washington Post

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