Descendants of those buried at local cemetery look to clean up, revamp final resting place

Posted at 7:06 PM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 19:26:33-04

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Unsightly views are disturbing the peace at Oak Grove Cemetery -- overgrown grass, downed trees and some damaged headstones, just to name a few.

Colette Roots visited the cemetery on Friday. She told News 3 that this kind of scene would upset those buried if they were to see it.

"These graves right here are a part of my family,” Roots said as she pointed out the grave sites of some of her departed relatives.

Roots has been coming to Oak Grove Cemetery in Williamsburg to visit her buried relatives since she was 10, but there are some unsightly things that she and others want to fix.

"This property, to me, is my roots,” Roots said. “I have everybody in this cemetery; I have a connection to."

When you walk into the cemetery, some of the things you will notice are grass that is overgrown and damaged grave markers.

"Because they can't visit their loved ones,” Roots explained, “because of the trees that's fallen down; because of the leaves, how hard it is coming in and out of the graveyard."

That is why starting next week, this cemetery will get a makeover.

"We're going to have a parking lot,” Roots said, explaining some of the features the cemetery will get during the process. “We're going to have all the trees removed by VDOT."

The grass is also going to be cut, leaves will be cleared and the damaged headstones will be repaired by a local funeral home.

A thin pink rope marks where the new fence will be installed.

"This cemetery, [what it] means to me,” Roots said. “The most important cemetery in the world."

Members of the Oak Grove Baptist Church, who own the cemetery, are leading the effort to preserve it. Colonial Williamsburg is also helping with the effort.

Related: Soldiers unite to clean historic African-American cemeteries in Hampton

"It means something to me as being in the history of it all,” Virginia Walker, spokesperson for the church, said. “It overwhelms me when I read about the history."

"We will make sure that this cemetery will never, ever, look like this again,” Roots said.

The clean-up and restoration is expected to be complete by mid-November.