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The people of Sinking Springs Cemetery

March 4, 2019

Abingdon, Virginia has a lot of great history, outdoor activities, and culture to explore, but there's a part of town where things are a bit quieter.

 

Sinking Spring Cemetery was established as the burial ground for members of the Sinking Spring Presbyterian Church, which was organized in 1773. These early settlers purchased 55 acres for a nominal sum from Thomas Walker, an explorer and wealthy land speculator who was promoting the development of the town of Abingdon. The members of the congregation, led by Rev. Charles Cummings, built their log church house and laid out the cemetery on 11 acres. Later they sold off the remaining 44 acres.

 

Burials over the past 200 years reflect the long history of Washington County. Beautifully carved granite monuments stand side by side with simply etched limestone markers. Henry Creswell, the first person to be buried there, was killed in an encounter with Native Americans. There are Confederate soldiers and casualties from later wars. Two Virginia governors rest there along with several judges, legislators, businessmen, craftsmen, lawyers, doctors, wives, and children. A third governor, Henry Carter Stuart, was buried there for about 25 years and then his remains were moved to Russell Memorial Cemetery in Lebanon. 

 

On the same parcel of land, but separated by Russell Road, is the burial place of the slaves owned by these early Presbyterians, and also free people of color. The African-American Cemetery was originally called the Colored Cemetery.

 

Both cemeteries are now owned and maintained by the Town of Abingdon, which welcomes visitors to the grounds during daylight hours. Approximately 2,500 graves fill Sinking Spring Cemetery, with over 300 in the African-American Cemetery.

 

Use the free Traipse app to explore Sinking Springs Cemetery and learn more about the people buried there. Download the app and take your brain for a walk!

 

A big thank you to the Town of Abingdon and the Historical Society of Washington County whose brochure and research made this tour possible.

 

 

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