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Reynolds Homestead Enslaved Community

The Cemetery for African Americans at the Reynolds Homestead

The Cemetery for African Americans

The Cemetery for African Americans at the Reynolds Homestead is a visual reminder that the Reynolds family relied on the labor of enslaved Africans at Rock Spring Plantation. In stark contrast to the Reynolds family cemetery with its stately monuments, graves for enslaved men, women, and children are mostly marked with large field stones.

In 2001, after surveying the cemetery, Radford University faculty member Michael Barber created a map indicating 61 potential graves. Since 2015, the Reynolds Homestead has been working with historian John Whitfield to gather more information on the enslaved community. The goal of the project is to share the stories of the many men, women, and children who served as enslaved laborers on the plantation.

According to tax and census records, by 1840, when Hardin Reynolds inherited his father’s estate, 18 Africans were enslaved at Reynolds Homestead. In 1850, with the addition of those individuals Nancy Jane Cox Reynolds brought with her as part of her dowry, the enslaved community increased to 48. By 1863, the number of enslaved men, women, and children was 88.

A woman named Letty, may have been a wedding gift to Nancy, since a deposition noted “Letty’s name was Cox before she was married she having been raised by father Joshua Cox” Another record indicates Letty married Jacob “Jack” Reynolds in 1850. The couple had at least three children, Mary, Adeline and Henry.