From the Richmond Planet, 1/4/1896, p. 1, c. 7
DID NOT WANT TO BURY HER.
A Colored Centenarian Laid Away – Rev. Holmes Officiated – Trouble at the Grave – A White Family’s Love for an Old Servant.
There was much excitement at Shockoe Hill Cemetery, a white aristocratic burial ground, located at the northern limits of Third St., in this city, Wednesday, 1st instant, at about 4 p. m.
It was caused by the burial of Mrs. Lucy Armstead, the old family servant of Rev. Dr. Woodbridge, now deceased, who was at one one time rector of the Monumental Church.
It seems that Miss Mary Woodbridge who was nursed by this colored family servant, insisted upon having her interred in the family section, in this cemetery. Superintendent of the Poor, Robert W. Carter, objected and others had to be consulted. It was decided that as the Woodbridge family owned the section, they could not be prevented from laying to rest therein their “old black mammy.”
When the grave was reached, it was found that no box had been lowered into it. Before the white sexton would do this, he went to the carriage of Miss Mary Woodbridge, who insisted that it be done.
After lowering the box, he walked off and would not assist in lowering the casket.
The grave diggers refused to cover up the grave, but upon the undertaker threatening to report them, they proceeded to do their duty.
Rev. James H. Holmes, pastor of the First Baptist Church officiated, went through with the solemn burial service. He is the only colored minister ever known to have acted in this capacity since the cemetery was opened for the reception of bodies. It is presumed to have been in use for more than a century. Funeral Director A. D. Price officiated and is the only one of color, who ever acted in that capacity.
The deceased was 116 years of age according to her statement and had been a member of the Daughters of Zion sixty years, which was merged into the Zion Travellers three and half years ago.
She had been a member of the African Missionary Society of the First Baptist Church for eighty years, and paid her annual dues regularly every year.
Recently, since her health has been poor, she always sent for the pastor to get her dues to pay at Easter.
Miss Mary Woodbridge, white, insisted all along that her mamy must be buried by the side of her father and it will be seen that she had it done.