You Can Help Clean Up This Forgotten Virginia Cemetery


NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Virginia – In rural Nottoway County, less than a mile from the western gateway to Fort Pickett and a mile outside of Blackstone, you’ll find Greenview Cemetery – but only if you look for it.

Fort Pickett veteran and employee James Barchanowicz stumbled upon the historic African American Cemetery while on his lunch break in April 2021.

The first grave he found was that of a World War II veteran. When he looked closer into the brush and debris, he found several more graves and knew he had to do something.

“It bothered me because I’m a veteran myself, and they deserve more respect than they’re being shown,” Barchanowicz explained. “So I felt it was my job to come here and protect what’s left and build it.”

A year ago, Barchanowicz said overgrown trees, bushes and branches covered the headstones and you wouldn’t even realize it was a cemetery.

“You couldn’t even tell there were graves,” he noted. “There were only one or two here, and it was covered in trash. People were driving over it. There were beer cans. I mean, you name it, it was here.”

But now, after a year of volunteer cleanup efforts, you can see over 1,000 headstones or single rocks that have been placed on the site where these men and women were buried.

Barchanowicz said he did some field research and learned that the cemetery was actually purchased by two former slaves, the Fitzgeralds, in the very early 1900s.

After the Civil War, the couple saved money to buy the land and turned it into an open cemetery for those who couldn’t afford to rest their loved ones.

“I love it,” Barchanowicz said. “It’s a good story. He doesn’t deserve to end up being overrun and forgotten.

Clarence Hawkes Jr., 72, from Nottoway County, guided CBS 6 through the cemetery, showing the graves of some men he says were victims of Jim Crow laws, including Booker T. Spicely, 35. .

“He was a precursor to the bus boycott,” Hawkes explained. “He was killed in World War II because he refused to move to the back of the bus. He was killed and the bus driver was acquitted.”

Hawkes is grateful for the work done to restore the cemetery, as he said some of the men and women buried at Greenview fought for our country and do not deserve to be forgotten or overlooked.

“They put their lives on the line for our democracy,” Hawkes said. “And now they are in an area that needs to be rehabilitated and respected. I would like to see the cemetery be a beautiful and respectful place, where relatives, researchers, visitors and just people can come here and see the cemetery and see how people gave their lives just to be Americans.”

To make Greenview the place Hawkes and the team of a dozen volunteers want it to be, they need more help. The group organizes monthly cleanups, but they are looking for volunteers with equipment to remove debris and cut down some of the low trees that could potentially destroy the headstones.

They say once they are able to clean up low limbs and other debris, a team from Longwood University can come out and help identify more graves.

So far, the group has uncovered 1,050 graves, but they believe there could be dozens more.

“We need more expertise,” Hawkes explained. “We need more advanced technology to identify these graves and find out where they are.”

If you would like to help, you can contact Barchanowicz and his team via email at [email protected]

“We’re not going to stop,” Barchanowicz said. “We’re going to keep going, and if I have to spend my money, so be it. It’s going to happen and you know, I’m going to make this place exist.”


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