The Quaker Burying Ground was established on a parcel of land on Queen Street, near the intersection with Washington Street, which was conveyed May 8, 1784, by Thomas West to the Society of Friends for use as a burying ground. It may be penned the "new" cemetery, since the Society earlier congregated at a site between 311 and 315 South St. Asaph Street, and may have had a burial ground there as well. In 1802, Robert Hartshorne Miller was appointed to head the committee for overseeing the burying ground.
In July 1860, member Robert Hartshorne Miller took on the responsibility to see that the burial ground was encircled by a brick wall. The Alexandria Meeting house was sold about 1885 to a negro congregation. By about 1896, the remnants of the meeting house were purchased by Colonel Francis Lee Smith, Jr., who had the lot cleared. By the time children used the area for a play ground in the early 1900s, it was still surrounded by a brick wall which had a large iron gate on the south side. In 1914, an attempt to transfer the burial ground property to the Alexandria City Hospital Association, while approved, was never implemented because “those whose families had been interred in these burial grounds revealed strong opposition to its disposal for the purpose suggested.”
In January, 1937 it was announced that Dr. and Mrs. Robert South Barrett would donate money for construction, at the site of the old Friends burial ground, of a new library to be dedicated to memory of Dr. Barrett's mother Kate Waller Barrett. A contract was made with trustees of the Friends burying ground to grant the city a lease without rental or cost; the Friends were given assurances that none of the grave sites would be disturbed when the library was built. A tablet in memory of the Quakers was to be placed at the site. By March 1937, the Alexandria Library Association had been granted a 99-year lease so that the library could be constructed. In 1992, only nine gravestones were visible at the site which is now part of the Alexandria Library at 717 Queen Street. It is not known whether most of the tombstones were removed to other locations or if they had been carried off through the years. Because of their custom of simplicity, many Quaker graves were never marked or were marked by wood planks.
During 1993-1995, the City of Alexandria conducted an archaeological investigation of the Quaker cemetery on the grounds of the Kate Waller Barrett Library; the archaeological work resulted from the City's plan to demolish and replace a 1954 addition to the 1937 library structure. Work was coordinated with the current members of the Alexandria Monthly Meeting, the owners and stewards of the cemetery site, who stipulated that the goal was to preserve as many of the burials as possible and that only those graves that would be disturbed by construction activities were to be removed. All excavated human remains and associated artifacts were reburied on the site. The investigation provided insight into an important segment of Alexandria's population during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Quakers served as merchants in the early years of the City's development and helped to boost Alexandria's economy during the eighteenth century. Throughout the nineteenth century, they were instrumental in pursuing a number of societal improvements, including the creation of schools and libraries, improvement of municipal health systems, and the relief of oppressed minorities. Archaeological fieldwork from December 1993 to March 1995 resulted in the discovery of 159 burials. Sixty-six were located in areas which would be disturbed by construction activities and required complete excavation; 93 burials were left in place. Although every effort was made to identify these 159 burials; only 78 were identified.
Eight of the nine gravestones catalogued in 1992 (and fragments of two others) were removed to a wooded area adjacent to the Woodlawn Friends Meeting House Cemetery at Fort Belvoir, Fairfax County, and respectfully arranged on a small mound.
Virginia State Archaeological Number: 44AX132.
GPS Coordinates: 38.80749, -77.04676
- Added: 21 Jul 2006
- Find A Grave Cemetery: #2182900
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