Blackwater Refuge is site of historic cemetery

Submitted photo/Friends of Blackwater NWR
Markers at the cemetery date back as far as 1813.

GOLDEN HILL — Visitors to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge sometimes ask about the small cemetery located along the Pollinator Sanctuary Trail, on the left after the fee station along the Wildlife Drive.
The cemetery predates the establishment of the Refuge by 119 years, a statement from Friends of Blackwater NWR said last week.

Some of the earliest stones (Mary King, age 21 and Abraham Meekins, age 43) are dated 1813 and 1814, and are presumed to be related to earlier landowners.

The majority of the graves in the cemetery, however, can be traced to the Staplefort family who were later local landowners.
The Staplefort family is presumed to have been wealthy, given their local land holdings and records indicating they were slave owners.
Not far across the river from the Wildlife Drive is the farm site where tobacco farmer Atthow Pattison held enslaved Harriet Tubman’s mother and grandmother in the 1700s.

The Pattison and Staplefort families knew each other well and given the close proximity of their farms, their slaves would have known each other well also, the statement said. Harriet herself was born nearby on property owned by Anthony Thompson in Peter’s Neck, south of Madison, near the Blackwater River.