Daughters of Zion Cemetery

Association: Charitable Organization, The Daughters of Zion.
No. of Markers: 179 (View)
No. of Individuals: 196 (View)
Location: Charlottesville, Albemarle Co.

The Daughter's of Zion Cemetery (DOZ) was founded by a charitable society for African American women of the same name in 1873. The cemetery is also referred to as the "Society Cemetery" or the "Church Hill Cemetery." The earliest gravestone that we can read today is five-year-old Annie Buckner, who died in April 1873. There are 179 markers standing as of 2003. The last burial took place in 1995, but the majority of burials took place prior to the 1930s. In the 1970s, decades after the demise of the original organization, the city of Charlottesville assumed responsibility for the upkeep of the graveyard. Archival research conducted by Ted Delaney in 2001, revealed that several burial plots were sold in the early 20th century, but no gravestones remain to mark the burials of those family members. This, combined with unmarked depressions scattered throughout the cemetery, suggests that the surviving markers represents only a fraction of the total burials.

While we do not have any extant records from the Daughter's of Zion organization, we do have the 1873 deed, which explains the creation of the cemetery: “for the use of the Charitable association of colored women of Charlottesville, known and styled as ‘The daughters on Zion’  And used exclusively as a burying ground.” The various names for the DOZ Cemetery, such as "Society Cemetery," reveals its use by many of the economic and social elites within the African American community. This cemetery lies directly north of Oakwood Cemetery, one of Charlottesville's public cemeteries which opened in 1863. Oakwood was public, but segregated.