Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Remains of infamous local slave jail discovered

On Wed., Dec. 17, at 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. the findings of the Lumpkin's Slave Jail dig will be presented to the public by the Richmond City Council Slave Trail Commission at a press conference in the parking lot of Main Street Train Station, 15th & Franklin Sts., bordered by E. Broad St. in Shockoe Bottom, right below I-95 to the east.

Included in the what was discovered were the brick foundation, a cobblestone courtyard, the kitchen area and period artifacts.

Established in 1998 by Richmond's city council, the Slave Trail Commission was created to help promote awareness of the history and legacy of slavery in Richmond. The archaeological excavation of the slave jail in Shockoe Bottom has been a major project of the Commission.

Lumpkin's infamous jail was the largest slave holding facility in operation in Richmond from 1840 until the end of the Civil War in 1865. During that time, Richmond was home to the largest domestic slave export business in the United States.

Owned by Robert Lumpkin, the jail was a place that tens of thousands of African men, women and children were "stored" before being transported to their owners, who lived in places where slavery was legal.

Following Lumpkin's death shortly after the Civil war, his widow Mary Lumpkin, who was African-American and a former slave, inherited the estate. In 1867, she leased the jail to Reverend Nathaniel Colver, who established a school for freed slaves at the site. That school grew into what is now Virginia Union University.

-- The information above was provided by Steve Skinner at City Hall; call (804) 646-6052

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