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DHR Completes Survey Project at Hickory Hill Slave and African American Cemetery

By Joanna Wilson Green and Brad McDonald

Survey work at Hickory Hill Slave and African American Cemetery
Timmons Group staff conducting survey work at Hickory Hill Slave and African American Cemetery. Photo: DHR.

DHR archaeologists Joanna Wilson Green and Brad McDonald recently assisted personnel from the Land Survey division of Timmons Group to map and record the boundaries and more than 260 individual graves located within the Hickory Hill Slave and African American Cemetery, located in Hanover County.


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2020, the cemetery is an extremely well-preserved example of a burial ground for both enslaved individuals prior to the Civil War as well as free blacks in the period following the war and into the 20th century. Known burials within the resource span from around 1820 until 1938. Research has also been aided by rare, surviving historical records from W.F. Wickham’s Plantation Diaries, which were written between 1828 and 1864. These documents contain extraordinary information pertaining to the names, death dates, familial relationships, and, in some cases, age of the individuals for members of the enslaved community associated with Wickham’s Hickory Hill Plantation.


The completion of this survey project represents the fulfillment of a long-term wish held by the local descendants and friends community, which have been involved with the care, documentation, and clean-up of the cemetery for well over a decade. This effort was only made possible by the extremely generous donation of time and effort by the dedicated professional land survey staff within the Timmons headquarters office in Richmond. DHR would especially like to thank Timmons staff members Robert Collins, Tucker Holloman, and Nathan Moser for their dedication and service to this important project. The resulting mapping from the survey project will be invaluable for future research and interpretive planning efforts for the cemetery.

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