Community of Grove WT-4: not erected


After the Civil War, the Freedman’s Bureau confiscated land for refugees and free African Americans in the area that became the community of Grove. In 1967, the seized land was restored to the previous owners. Some of the African Americans settled on lands to the west. In 1918, many descendants of the first refugees returned to Grove after the U.S. government forced their removal to make way for the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station and Cheatham Annex. These immigrants formed the nucleus of Grove, which was enlarged when further removals during World War II displaced friends and family from the nearby community of Magruder.

Further Research:

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands was created by Congress in March 1865 to assist for one year in the transition from slavery to freedom in the South.


During the American Civil War, there was a mass emancipation of slaves and despite Virginia’s secession from the Union, the U.S. Army retained control of Fort Monroe, which had become a destination for slaves who sought freedom.  After the War, many of the freed African Americans settled inland of the Peninsula as landowners or tenant farmers and many freedmen moved to the area that would soon become the Community of Grove (Walsh).

Present Day Aerial View: The oldest structure onboard the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station is the Lee House, built around 1649, where many generations of the family lived out their lives before the property was acquired by the U.S. government.

The community was named after a nearby creek and a plantation where many of the African Americans had worked as slaves and it remained a relatively small community until the mid-twentieth century.  During World War I, many members of the community returned when they were displaced because of the construction of the Yorktown Naval Weapons Station (Walsh).  Also, during World War II, the U.S. Navy took over the small town of Magruder and more descendants were forced to relocate to Grove.

Further Reading:

Walsh, Lorena S. From Calabar to Carter’s Grove: The History of A Virginia Slave Community. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997.

Photo Credits

“The Freedman’s Bureau,” PBS: The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow, (accessed May 2, 2012).

“Aerial View,” CNIC: Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, (accessed May 2, 2012).

View on Google Maps

Department of Historic Resources link not available.

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