Hampton woman looking for help to clean old cemetery


HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A Hampton woman is hoping the final resting place for her family members receives some serious TLC.

Charmaine Vauters’ family is buried in a historic cemetery in Hampton off of Woodland Road.

You can clearly see how it was once a sacred place, but now you barely notice it is a cemetery at all. It’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.

The cemetery’s right between Woodlands golf course and the skate park.

But Vauters says it’s history that needs to be preserved before it’s too late.

No weeds, tall grass or fungus could stop Vauters from finding her great grandmother’s grave.

“I was in shock and awe when I drove down this gravel road on Sunday and could not find her because the leaves are so high,” Vauters said. “I’m feeling hopeless and helpless that I’ll find her.”

She says her great grandparents, Dinah Clark Mann and William Mann, were well known in the Hampton community. Their daughter ended up being one of the first Black “human computers” at NASA.

Charmaine says nearly 200 grave sites in total are here.

According to the City of Hampton, this cemetery is listed as privately-owned property, just like all cemeteries in the city. The city has no jurisdiction on the upkeep.

A city spokesperson said families who own their plots can clean on their own time.

Charmaine has made it her mission to try and clean up the whole site.

“It’s gonna be a challenge, I’m thinking we will have to clear it, grit it, document and archive it. If this ever happens again and the fungus covers the stones and erases the names, these ancestors will be lost forever,” Vauters said.

On Hampton’s city website it says the land was bought in 1969 by someone by the name of Wilkerson Geneva Smith and Lewis.

Charmaine says she will continue to look for the property owners, but in the meantime her family plans to go out and help clear everything out this weekend.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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