A “good Christian burial,” one of the benefits of freedom, was very important to African Americans just out of slavery. Indeed, many blacks belonged to burial societies that facilitated their financial preparedness for the inevitability of death.

The early members of Shi­loh Baptist Church understood this and early on prepared a place for eternal rest. The Shi­loh Cemetery is located west of Ashland on Hanover Avenue. The land, which was purchased from Elizabeth Hogg, sometimes called Elizabeth Tinsley, in 1874, was also the site of the first church building. While documenting the earliest burials has been difficult, church lore suggests that this land was used as much as seven or eight years prior to the recording of the deed.

In the late 1870s some members of Shiloh favored relocating the church and in 1878 dedicated a new church building at its present location (106 S. James St). This was not agree­able to everyone, so at this point, some members branched off and formed Union Baptist Church, also in Ashland. For many years Shiloh and Union members shared the cemetery. In fact, many non-members were also allowed to purchase gravesites. However, limited space has forced an end to this practice, and the cemetery is now reserved for Shiloh members only. The current church members remain committed to preserving this final resting place for generations of Ashlanders.

(Above text by George Gray. From: Ashland, Virginia, 150 Years, 1858-2008, Ashland Sesquicentennial Committee, 2009)

See also the related article – Shiloh Baptist Church