Use the following resources to select a highway marker to explore. Describe the marker you chose and why you chose it. In what ways will you use Trouillot’s methods from Silencing the Past to learn more about the history of your selected highway marker?
After exploring many different highway markers, I chose the Maddox Cemetery located near Prince William Forest Park. I chose this highway marker because it caught my attention since I’ve visited this park before and it’s a great place for nature walks, but I never knew about a Cemetery being there. The marker describes a veteran of the Revolutionary war, Allison Maddox, who bought the proper in 1810 where all of his family members eventually ended up being buried when they died (Prince William County Government). The PWCGOV website also tells us that the inscribed headstones all date between 1826-1857; the earliest being of the grave of her brother-in-law, Jesse Scott, and the last being Mrs. Ann Maddox’s grave. What also caught my attention about this cemetery is that the family was apparently known to have two or three slaves, but their final resting place is uncertain. It’s also interesting to me that the marker shows the property to have been sold in 1859 by the son of Ann and Allison, Robert G. Maddox, which he then moved to Stafford County. After learning this information, many questions began to form in my mind. Where could the slaves have been buried? Who buried them and left the location of the burial site left uncertain? Why did the family decide to use the property as a burial ground for their family only? Why did the son, Robert G. Maddox, decide to sell the family property exactly? Did he not want his future family to be buried in the same cemetery? In order to help myself answer these questions and learn more about the history of Maddox Cemetery, there are a couple methods I would use from Trouillot’s Silencing the Past. He discusses how history tends to reveal itself with specific narratives that separate individuals into three main categories; agents, actors, and subjects. This is a useful method to keep in mind in order to determine who’s narratives are mostly highlighted and who’s narratives are silenced. In this case, I believe it is important to note that the narrative of the slaves are being silenced as this highway marker mainly discusses a Revolutionary War veteran. As Trouillot mentions, perspective is also key, so it would be interesting for me to understand the history and perspective of Robert G. Maddox for leading him to wanting to sell the family’s property where all his family is also buried. All of this information ties in together with our class discussions where we talked about how much history is told and how it’s shown to an audience in order to see who’s perspectives and narratives are silenced. With that, it is our job as scholars to ponder and ask these questions about why certain individuals’ perceptions are prioritized more than others, and to give voices to those who have been silenced.