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West Point Cemetery

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History
Norfolk’s West Point Cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When federal policy allowed the Union army to enlist African Americans, Norfolk was one of the few major cities in the South where they could be recruited because the area had been re-occupied by Union forces. About 1200 local African Americans soldiers served. They distinguished themselves at the battles of Chaffin Farms, New Market Heights, Fair Oaks, Dutch Gap, and the sieges of Petersburg and Richmond. Many were cited for bravery and awarded medals. As these men passed away, the African American community searched for a burial solution that would recognize what they had sacrificed for the hope of a unified country.  

Though the Norfolk Common Council authorized the burial of "people of colour" in a Potter's Field located between Liberty, Scott, Hawke, and Cumberland Streets in Norfolk in 1827, it wasn't until 1873 that another Potter's Field was established for the exclusive interment of African American citizens.  Known briefly as Calvary Cemetery, this burial ground was located at the west point of Elmwood Cemetery.  

In 1885, with the urging of Norfolk's first African American Councilman, James E. Fuller, Norfolk City Council changed the name to West Point Cemetery. Councilman Fuller further insisted that a section of the cemetery "...be dedicated as a special place of burial for Black Union veterans..."  Thus, Section 20 was "donated to the Directors of the Union Veterans Hall Association for the burial of the members of the Grand Army of the Republic."  Fifty-eight Afro-Union soldiers are interred in Section 20.  Under the leadership of Councilman Fuller and the Norfolk Memorial Association, the West Point monument was erected in honor of African American soldiers and sailors of all wars.  The base of the monument was completed in 1906 and the statue depicting Sergeant William Harvey Carney was added in 1920.  Although Fuller died in 1909, the African American community continued to work for another 11 years to bring his vision to fruition.
*Excerpts from "Remembering Norfolk's African American Cemeteries" by Cassandra Newby-Alexander.

West Point Cemetery records are located in the Elmwood Cemetery office.

Aerial Photograph & Map

Interment Information Online
The Norfolk Bureau of Cemeteries' interment database is now available online via WebCemeteries.com. The Bureau's database does not include obituaries or monument photographs.  USGenWeb Archives, a cooperative network of volunteers that provides genealogical information on the internet, provides many of these in its interment catalog of West Point Cemetery.  If you cannot locate an interment, please call 757-441-2576 or email for more information. 
 

Cemetery Events, Volunteer Opportunities, Conservation Information

Click here for information about Norfolk Historic Cemeteries events, volunteer opportunities, and conservation information.