As part of our walk around downtown Richmond last Friday, we decided to talk a walk around Lumpkin’s Slave Jail, which has recently been in the news a bit the last couple of years, due to the work being done to recover part of that history. Obviously with having the possible ‘ties’ to the jail (if the name wasn’t obvious), I do love learning about local history.
I say ‘possible ties’, mainly because there’s no hard link (that one can prove) between my family name and this jail. Lumpkin’s Jail was run by a Robert Lumpkin, who then eventually married one of his former slaves, Mary. Mary eventually went to turn part of the land into a school for freed slaves, which eventually came Virginia Union University in 1899. You can read more on the Jail here and here. There were a few Robert Lumpkin’s alive at that time, which I do have known ties to. But the documentation does not go into detail enough about which (or any) were the particular Robert Lumpkin who ran the jail. From what I have read, we are considered not to be related. But then again, I also find it hard to believe that such a less-common name had more than one family here in Richmond around that time.
(UPDATE: The Smithsonian Magazine has a great article on the Jail on their website as well)
We took a walk around the area, just to see the start of some of the planned historical monuments down around the area. The entire ‘jail site’ is fenced off, and it doesn’t look like much work is being done around there now. But with a lot of the work being done around Shockoe Bottom, im sure eventually more of this will come to light again.