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Long-Forgotten Alexandria Graves Discovered

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So far, 11 previously unknown burials have been discovered at Fort Ward in Alexandria.
Michael Pope
So far, 11 previously unknown burials have been discovered at Fort Ward in Alexandria.

Fort Ward Park in Alexandria is known as the best-preserved part of a system of defenses used to protect Washington from Confederate invasion during the Civil War. But lately it's become known for something else: a series of unmarked African-American graves being discovered throughout the park.

Fran Bromberg, a preservation archeologist, has been working on the project for the past year.

"Well, we're very excited about this project. We think that it really brings back the history of this area that has been forgotten for some time," she says.

That history dates back to the end of the Civil War, when the area became an African-American community for generations until the 1960s, when the city of Alexandria acquired the property and turned it into a park. Over time, many people forgot about the unmarked graves -- until now.

"What we're on the brink of now is being able to expand the interpretation of the site to also include the post-Civil War African-American history of the site because the two stories are really connected in many ways," says Fort Ward Park Director Susan Cumbey.

So far, 11 previously unknown graves have been identified.

The first phase of archeological investigation will conclude in January, but many other potential graves sites throughout the park have yet to be investigated.

Michael Pope also reports for Northern Virginia's Connection Newspapers.

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