History of Waterford, Virginia
Struggle, and Success
Those who left Waterford over the past century in search of greater opportunity in the wider world have also enjoyed increasing success in surmounting less formal barriers to advancement. A granddaughter of Ed and Marietta Collins overcame the ravages of polio to graduate from Howard University in the early 1900s. (Ed had offered her blunt but loving encouragement as a young child: "If you're going to be a cripple, you might as well be an educated cripple." He, himself, was illiterate.)
Other descendants have gone on to success in arenas as far-flung as Hollywood and New York's Metropolitan Opera, and as diverse as social action, information technology and university administration. For that, many credit the strength of their families - and one of the sources of that strength, the sense of belonging and self-worth gained from growing up in Waterford,
Union Cemetery (Fairfax Street)
The quiet cemetery on a commanding rise at the northeast end of the village is the final resting place for many of Waterford s African Americans. Its name signifies its status as a union-of-churches cemetery. Only the Quakers have maintained a separate burying ground; it lies just across Old Waterford Road beside the former meeting house (15510 Loyalty Road)
Union Cemetery was laid out early in the nineteenth century and was strictly segregated, with the black section to the rear. Both sections contain fine marble monuments, but many African Americans could afford no more than a roughly flat stone brought in from some field, or just a wooden marker that quickly weathered away. The resulting gaps In the rows testify eloquently to the inequalities of the day.
Civil War veterans of both races - and both armies - lie peaceably together in the same cemetery. Their graves bear appropriate military markers. One designates the grave of James Lewis (born 1844) who traveled to Pittsburgh during the war where he joined the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, a white-led black unit like the famous 54th that was Immortalized in the film, Glory
James Lewis House (15525 Butchers Row)
After the war, James Lewis returned to Waterford, married and built a small house on Butchers Row. He was a pillar of his church and was respected by those who knew him. One who knew him well, Quaker Lewis Walker has left the following remembrance - and unintended insight into racial relations in the village in the late 1800s
I want to pay tribute to Jim Lewis who worked for Father [J. Edward Walker] faithfully after moving to Waterford. He had been a slave and he told me he carried a welt on his back from boyhood when he had been flogged. He took care of all the outside work including a fine garden and in winter, looked after the fires, and did errands. He made an open fire in Father's bedroom each cool morning after Mother died, usually before Father was up.
Father at one time had built a very nice retaining wall in front of his property [15606 Second Street] and a little later he as interested to see that Jim, without having mentioned it had the same kind of a wall around his property, which was located at the junction of the two roads leading to our Meeting House. He always addressed me as Mr. Lewis and some old colored men of the community tipped their hats to me when meeting me in the street after I had been away to school.
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