Generations of Memories
Heart of the Blue Ridge
By Bob Heafner © 2012
Online: September, 2012
In 1984, when I promised Mr. Matt Burnette that I would try to get the headstones restored to the African-American graves on National Park Service land adjacent to the Meadows of Dan Baptist Church Cemetery, I had no idea what trying to keep that promise would entail. After twenty-eight years, hundreds of emails, meetings and countless frustrations the Blue Ridge Parkway management has finally erected a fence around the “old slave cemetery” shown on the original acquisition maps drawn in 1938 when the State of Virginia was acquiring the right of way for the Parkway.
On June 1, 2010, I wrote this email to Phil Francis, Superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Within twenty-four hours after emailing Mr. Francis, he called and said he was going to “do the right thing,” about these almost forgotten African-American pioneers.
Mr. Francis, good to his word, got the ball rolling and on August 4, 2010, John Johnson and I met with Steven Kidd, Bambi Teague and Monika Mayr at the Guilford Courthouse Visitor Center in Greensboro, North Carolina.
On November 22, 2010, John and I met with Steven Kidd at The Slave Meadow in Meadows of Dan. Using a backhoe, Mr. Kidd dug several two to three feet deep holes at the sunken spots near the Langhorne Family plot but said he saw no evidence of graves. Mr. Matt and other old timers were adamant that the Langhorne slaves are buried there and I still believe they were correct.
Earlier this year the Blue Ridge Parkway erected a fence around the “old slave cemetery.” It’s not what Mr. Matt wanted but at least there is now official acknowledgement that people are buried in this scenic mountain meadow beside the Blue Ridge Parkway in Meadows of Dan, Virginia. Thanks to Leslie Shelor, owner of the Greenberry House in Meadows of Dan, for the photo.