Prince William Co. to preserve graves, tell stories of historic communities

Prince William’s Board of County Supervisors is set to put aside $765,000 to preserve two Virginia cemeteries founded by enslaved Americans who were freed and Native Americans in the western portion of the county and prevent future development of hallowed ground.

In its June 8 meeting, the board will vote upon the motion that would “further research, preserve and interpret the cultural resources within the Thoroughfare and Settlement communities.”

In May, county resident Frank Washington told the board the Scott Cemetery — located on land now owned by a brewery — held approximately 75 to 100 graves. Washington is an organizer of the Coalition to Save Historic Thoroughfare.

According to agenda documents, archaeological fieldwork will continue to define the limits of the cemetery using remote sensing. The goal is to identify and map individual burials.

The supervisors’ staff recommends “the creation of public interpretive areas at the Settlement and Thoroughfare communities to tell their stories using the information collected during the survey work.”

The property owner and the Thoroughfare community will restore, fence and properly mark the cemetery. Since the land is on private property, permanent access will be established for family members and so the public can visit the grave sites.

The county would hire a full-time archaeologist to oversee the research work. Eventually, the archaeologist would manage a new Historic Communities Program.

Looking forward, the county would include additional information about potential cemeteries in its real estate database, and increase education and notifications to property owners of the potential for cemeteries and historic properties on their land.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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