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Historic Cemetery Restoration

King Street CemeteryVolunteer soldiers clean Hampton’s historic Black cemeteries: ‘They deserve the respect.’

By Lianna Hubbard
Daily Press
Jun 18, 2022

HAMPTON — Each month, soldiers volunteer their Saturdays hauling lawnmowers, weed wackers and rakes to two overgrown lots beside a bus stop. They toil under the sun, restoring two of the city’s oldest Black cemeteries.

They mow, hack and rake away the 6-foot-tall sea of grass to reveal the concrete and granite headstones of Elmerton and Bassett cemeteries.

The lots hold some of the most important figures in Hampton’s Black history. But thick underbrush covered nearly every trace of the land’s significance before the volunteers started their work.

The city of Hampton doesn’t maintain either cemetery. Only a handful of volunteer organizations take care of the more than 900 graves dating to the 1850s.