Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

115-5129 Newtown Cemetery

Newtown Cemetery
Photo credit: Carole Nash, 2014

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For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 12/11/2014

NRHP Listing Date 02/17/2015

NRHP Reference Number 15000014

The Newtown Cemetery is locally significant for its role in the development of the Harrisonburg’s African American community. Newtown, which arose soon after the Civil War, was located on the then-edge of northeast Harrisonburg amidst the farm fields of a former plantation. Founded in 1869, Newtown Cemetery got its start when the cemetery’s five original trustees, members of the emerging community, purchased three lots for the express purpose of creating a graveyard “for all persons of color.” Coinciding with the growth of Newtown and Harrisonburg, the cemetery expanded with the trustees’ purchases of additional lots in 1898, 1907, and 1920, resulting in a 3.9-acre property, which contains the graves—dozens now unmarked—of more than 900 individuals. While the Newtown Cemetery reflects the hardships of Harrisonburg’s Newtown community, it also represents the self-sufficiency and resilience of its members. Buried in the cemetery are individuals who greatly influenced the lives of people in the Newtown community, the city, and Rockingham County and the central Shenandoah Valley as well. Noted burials include community founders and entrepreneurs, leading educators and social activists, the city’s first black council and school board member, and veterans of World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam, as well as two confirmed Civil War veterans who served as United States Colored Troops.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

Updated: January 20, 2022