HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Some Hampton residents are upset about an overrun cemetery. They believe the people buried at the Thornton Cemetery have been forgotten.
The cemetery sits behind a gas station on Woodland Road near Mercury Boulevard.
At first glance, the patch of land may not mean much — but taking a closer look, one can see dozens of headstones. Along with them is overgrown grass, trees and debris.
“The cemetery itself doesn’t even have a marker to it. There’s nothing along the roadside that tells you even what this place was or is today,” Hampton resident Chancer Hill said.
Hill is a photographer who says he stumbled upon the grave site while trying to take pictures. He said his research shows it may have been a cemetery for African American Union soldiers.
“In a lot of ways it looks very disrespectful to what’s happened to their lives at the end. So, it’s important to see somewhat respect brought back into this cemetery. Recognition of who they were, what they stood for,” Hill said.
10 On Your Side did some digging and found out the Thornton Cemetery is one of 74 cemeteries in Hampton.
According to the city’s website, all of the cemeteries are private property and the city doesn’t have authority to authorize work on private property.
So 10 On Your Side went to find the owner. According to these documents from the city assessor’s office, there is no owner.
Property records show all members of the Thornton family are deceased and since there is no value on the nearly one and a half acres of land here, there is no one to take responsibility except concerned citizens who volunteer for the task, like Hill.
“We should never be forgotten and this gentleman here and the families that live in this cemetery, they should not be forgotten like this,” Hill said.
Click here to learn how to volunteer to clean Hampton cemeteries.