Coles Family Cemetery

Association: None
No. of Markers: 11 (View)
No. of Individuals: 8 (View)
Location: Private. Proffit, Albemarle County.

The Coles Family Cemetery is located in Proffit, Virginia. Proffit has a rich history. Originally settled by former slaves in the 1870s, the railroad arrived in 1881, bringing white settlers and new businesses. Until the decline of the railroad (the Proffit depot was closed in the 1940s), this town was a prosperous African-American settlement. In 1998 it was listed in the Virginia Landmark Register and in 1999 on the National Register of Historic Places. There Proffit is described as “a rare survivor of the black communities established in Albemarle County after the Civil War, but which have largely disappeared or been rebuilt.” To read more about Proffit's history, click here.

The Coles family has ties to Proffit that date to the antebellum period when several large plantations owned the majority of the land in this area. A descendant, Mrs. Marion Coles Martin kindly showed me her family cemetery. Located in her backyard (and most traditional, rural graveyards were), the dozen stones date from the 1930s to the present. Two of the individuals were born in the 1870s, immediately after the Civil War, to parents who had been enslaved (these individuals, Arlanda and Mary Coles are Mrs. Martin's grandparents). Most of Arlanda and Mary's children are buried in this small family cemetery. Below Mrs Martin surveys the cemetery. She was born in Proffit, left briefly after she was married in 1948, and returned in 1962. An oral interview between her and Mieka Brand (an anthropologist who studied Proffit) can be read on-line here.