Known Burials in the Sammons Cemetery: Jesse Scott Sammons, his wife Lula Minor Gibbons Sammons, and their son Robert J. Sammons

Jesse S. Sammons (1853-1901) (Figure 1) was a leading figure in the educational, religious, and political life of Albemarle County in the last two decades of the nineteenth century. Born free, the son of Rollins and Sarah Sammons, he was a descendant of Elizabeth (Betty) Hemings through her oldest daughter, Mary Hemings Bell. He lived with his family at the Hydraulic Mills and attended the Freedmen’s School (Jefferson Graded School) in Charlottesville after the Civil War. He was the first teacher at the one-room Ivy Creek school about a mile west of the mills. When it consolidated with the Salem School at a new location as the Union Ridge Graded School, he became its first principal, a position he held until his death.

Jesse Sammons was politically active, especially in the period of the biracial Readjuster party in the late 1870s and early 1880s. His standing in the community is indicated by his nomination, in 1880, as a candidate for the Virginia General Assembly; white Readjusters, who thought “the time had not come for such a move in Albemarle,” defeated his election. At the time of the Congressional election of 1882, Sammons served as secretary of the Republican Coalition Club of Earlysville Precinct; its constitution was cited in a national publication as representative of the able leadership and organization of black Virginia voters at the time. Sammons was also an active churchman: a member, and secretary, of Union Ridge Baptist Church and an officer at the state level in the Baptist Sunday School Convention

Between 1881 and 1885 Jesse Sammons purchased two tracts of land totaling 73 acres about a mile southwest of the Hydraulic Mills; the Sammons cemetery is on the 27½-acre tract. In 1888 he married Lula Minor Gibbons (1863-1928). Born enslaved, she was the daughter of Anna and Edward Gibbons, a skilled carpenter, and the niece of the Rev. William Gibbons, a prominent Charlottesville and Washington, DC, minister, whose wife, Isabella Gibbons, taught for a number of years at the Jefferson Graded School in Charlottesville. Jesse and Lula Sammons had two daughters and two sons. Robert J. Sammons (1891-1924), their older son, left the Albemarle County farm by 1916 to live with relatives in New Jersey and worked as a dining-car waiter. He died in Jersey City and was brought back to the family cemetery for burial. Their daughter Alice attended Hampton Institute and taught in Albemarle County before moving to Jersey City after her marriage in 1920.

According to his obituary, Jesse Scott Sammons was “a leader in all that tended to the advancement and elevation of the people educationally, morally and spiritually.” His memory was fresh in his community in 1948, when the author of a history of Albemarle Training School stated that Sammons “gave unstintingly of his time and energy to his school, his church and his community. He was truly a recognized leader of his day, serving not only in the local community but also in countywide as well as state organizations.”

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Figure 1: Jesse Scott Sammons.
Courtesy of Albemarle Training Center Yearbook, 1948.
University of Virginia LIbrary.