Daughters of Zion Cemetery
This cemetery as also referred to as "Church Hill" or the "Society" cemetery.
A recent portrait of Benjamin Tonsler. Tonsler was one of Charlottesville's notable African American residents who was buried at Daughters of Zion. Courtesy of The Daily Progress newspaper of Charlottesville.
Learn more about this topic with this book which explores the history of African American Cemeteries in Central Virginia
Backstory and Context
The cemetery itself lays on two acres of land. There are 136 marked graves. However, in the late 1800s it was common for people of lower economic status to have graves with wooden markers or entirely unmarked. It is believed there are 300 graves in the cemetery, though no testing has been done. The cemetery is unrestricted by a fence but there are several family plots that have been fenced off.
The cemetery plots were largely undeeded. It is assumed the Daughters of Zion had their own method of marking and holding grave plots. There have been no records found. Because of the lack of records and markers, it is largely unknown who is interred in the cemetery. One notable burial is Benjamin Tonsler, a principle of the African American high school and community leader.