June 2, 1862: Daniel and Samuel Janney sell the land at 1001 South Washington St. to Francis Smith, a prominent Alexandria lawyer.
January 1864: Under Gov. Francis Harrison Pierpont, who administered the federal occupation of Alexandria, Smith’s land is seized to create a Freedmen’s Cemetery.
March 4, 1864: The Alexandria Gazette reports a notice announcing the new cemetery: “A grave yard for the burial of ‘contrabands’ who may die in this place has been laid off near the Catholic Cemetery.”
April 12, 1864: Julia Wilber writes in her diary about visiting the new Freedmen’s Cemetery: “65 graves there already, as good a place as they could get.” In May, she visits again and witnesses a “funeral of a colored soldier, the first who has died here. Had a white escort and was buried in the new Freedmen’s Burial ground.”
December 1868: When Congress curtails the Freedmen’s Bureau, the cemetery is closed. About 1,700 burials took place there between 1844 and 1868.
December 1869: The Smith family reclaims the land.
Jan. 5, 1894: The Washington Post describes a graveyard in Alexandria “containing defunct colored people (which) was being washed away by the rains and those not washed into the Potomac were ground into fertilizer.” The Alexandria Gazette responds, explaining that the Post misidentified the cemetery’s location: “The deep cut dug for the independent line of the old Manassas Gap railroad is on the south of the graveyard and the property of the Alexandria Brick Works on the west. Most of the bodies buried there were colored children, generally infants, a fact which will be attested by all whose recollections go back to war times.”
April 25, 1917: The Smith family gave the land to Dennis O’Connell, the Bishop of Richmond.
June 25, 1946: The Alexandria City Council rezones the property. The following account appears in the City Council’s minutes: “Council then took under consideration the request of Mr. Eugene Olmi to rezone the northern portion of the square of ground bounded by Washington Street, South Street, Columbus Street and Church Street … After an opportunity was given for all parties for and against to be heard, Councilman Bender moved the application be granted and the motion was seconded by Councilman Downey and adopted by the unanimous vote of the Council.” According to city records, the Planning Commission opposes rezoning of this tract.
Sept. 3, 1946: Bishop Peter Ireton sells the tract at 1001 South Washington Street to George Landrith — a member of the Fairfax County Planning Commission — with two stipulations: that the property not be used for an automobile service station and that sale of alcoholic beverages be prohibited on the property.
March 24, 1952: George Landrith sells 1001 South Washington St. to Mildred Koplin and James Juliano. Bishop Ireton’s restrictions are still in effect.
July 13, 1955: Dwight Chase submits an application for Tidewater Oil to construct a gasoline service station at 1001 South Washington Street. The architect is Willgoos & Chase. The builder is the Ketler Brothers.
July 29, 1955: Mildred Koplin sells the property at 1001 South Washington Street to Tidewater Oil.
Aug. 9, 1955: Bishop Ireton revokes the restrictions he placed on the property.
1957: The gasoline station at 1001 South Washington St. appears in the 1957 Alexandria City Directory as “Harper’s Flying A.”
1958: The station appears in the city directory as “Charley’s Flying A.”
April 28, 1967: Tidewater Oil sells the gas station to Mobil Oil.
1989: Oscar Butt pays about $300,000 to purchase the gas station business from the Siddique Chaudhary. He begins leasing the property from Mobil.
Sept. 30, 2000: A plaque honoring the Freedman’s Cemetery is dedicated.