Welcome to Gravestone Stories: Unearthing Alexandria’s Hidden Narratives

Group of participants on an Alexandria history tour gathers in the Alexandria National Cemetery to learn about the Union soldiers buried there who died in the Civil War.
A group of participants on an Alexandria history tour gathers in the Alexandria National Cemetery to learn about the Union soldiers buried there who died in the Civil War.

Discover Alexandria’s History at the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex

Uncover Alexandria’s history with Gravestone Stories at the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, the most historically significant burial ground in the United States. This unique outdoor museum offers an extraordinary journey through Alexandria’s past.

About Us: Passionate Guides Preserving Alexandria’s History

At Gravestone Stories, our expert guides are passionate about preserving and sharing the unique stories and historical significance of the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex. With years of experience and deep knowledge of Alexandria’s past, we bring the city’s rich history to life, ensuring that the legacies of those buried within the complex are never forgotten.

We are dedicated to providing an unforgettable experience for every visitor and supporting local preservation efforts. When you join a Gravestone Stories tour, you become a part of Alexandria’s story and help preserve its rich historical legacy.

Featured Tours

Wilkes the Street Cemetery Complex Tour

Discover over 200 years of Alexandria’s rich history on our captivating Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex tour. Nestled in a city that mirrors the story of America, this outdoor museum offers a glimpse into the lives of those who shaped our nation’s past, from the 18th century to the present.

What You’ll Experience

  • Historical Figures: Visit the final resting places of individuals connected to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Learn about their descendants and the prominent figures of their time, including friends of George Washington, congressmen, senators, and mayors.
  • Heroes and Villains: Hear tales of heroes from all wars and stories of enslavers and the enslaved, who together create a complete narrative of America’s complex history.
  • Civil Rights Pioneers: Discover the contributions of the United States Colored Troops, who participated in the nation’s first documented civil rights protest, and other early civil rights activists.
  • Founding Families: Explore the legacies of the families who founded Alexandria and played significant roles in the early days of the United States, full of intriguing tales of heroes, villains, and scandals.

Special Themed Tours: 

In addition to our regular Saturday tours, we offer a selection of specialty-themed tours that dive deeper into specific aspects of Alexandria’s history. While not part of our regular public tour schedule, these tours are available for private bookings, allowing you to explore your interests with a dedicated guide. Whether you’re planning a weekday visit or looking for a unique experience, our specialty-themed tours offer a fascinating journey through Alexandria’s past. Our offerings include:

  • Civil War Tour: Explore Alexandria’s Civil War history, including stories of Wilmer McLean, Samuel Johnston, and the United States Colored Troops.
  • Black History Tour: Uncover the powerful history of Alexandria’s African American community, spanning from the antebellum era through the Civil War and the civil rights movement.
  • Modern America Tour: Discover captivating stories from the 20th century, including the lives of Alva Lee Harvey, the Fleming family, and William Wolf Weisband.
  • Alexandria Firefighters Tour: Embark on a captivating journey through Alexandria’s heroic firefighting history. Our knowledgeable guide will share compelling stories of bravery and sacrifice as you visit historic fire stations and significant sites within the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex and Old Town Alexandria, reliving the challenges and triumphs of the city’s firefighters. Walk in the footsteps of Alexandria’s pioneering firefighters as you discover the origins of colonial firefighting practices and learn about the catastrophic 19th-century fires that tested their mettle, including the Great Fire that left an indelible mark on the city.
  • Early Alexandria Tour: Founding Fathers, Patriots, and Pioneers – Journey through Alexandria’s early history and uncover the lives and legacies of prominent figures who shaped the city and the nation from the Revolutionary War era to the antebellum period. Visit the final resting places of founding families, skilled craftsmen, merchants, civic leaders, and confidants of George Washington and discover their contributions to Alexandria’s development and pivotal roles in American history.

Join us as we walk through the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, where each grave tells a story, and history comes alive. Book your tour today and step back in time to explore the lives and legacies of those who shaped Alexandria and the nation.

About the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex Tours

Uncover Alexandria’s history with Gravestone Stories at the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, the most historically significant burial ground in the United States. This unique outdoor museum offers an extraordinary journey through Alexandria’s past, featuring a cluster of historic cemeteries that provide a fascinating glimpse into the lives and legacies of the individuals who shaped the city’s history.

Our expert guides will lead you through rotating themed tours, each providing a distinctive perspective on Alexandria’s multifaceted history. From the Revolutionary War era to the Civil Rights Movement, you’ll encounter captivating stories of notable figures and ordinary citizens whose experiences are woven into the fabric of the community. Tours typically last between one hour and an hour and a half, providing ample time to explore the cemeteries and uncover the fascinating stories they hold.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a curious visitor, the Wilkes Street Cemetery Tour promises an immersive and meaningful experience that brings Alexandria’s past to life. Don’t miss this opportunity to explore the stories, landmarks, and legacies that define this extraordinary city. Book your tour today!

Supporting Local Preservation and Community Efforts

At Gravestone Stories, we preserve Alexandria’s rich history and support the local community. We are proud to partner with various organizations to help fund their important work:

  • Lee-Fendall House: Each quarter, we lead tours that benefit the Lee-Fendall House, a historic home and garden museum in Alexandria. Many individuals associated with the Lee-Fendall House’s rich history, including members of the Lee and Fendall families, are buried within the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex. By taking our tours, you support the Lee-Fendall House’s mission to preserve and interpret the property’s history and its residents and gain insight into the lives of these notable figures and their final resting places.
  • Juneteenth Tour: Each summer, we offer a special Juneteenth Tour, with a portion of each ticket sale going to the groups working to preserve The Douglas Cemetery, a historic African American burial ground within the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, which the city and community are working to restore.
  • Community Partnerships: We regularly collaborate with local non-profit organizations to provide tours as a fundraising activity, supporting their efforts to enrich the greater Alexandria community.

Plan Your Tour

Get practical information to prepare for your visit. Learn about the best times to visit, what to bring, and other useful tips.

Private Tours

For a more customizable experience tailored to your unique interests, inquire about our private tour options. With weekday availability, our expert guides can craft a personalized tour that explores the aspects of Alexandria’s history that fascinate you most. Whether you want to focus on a specific era, theme, or location, we’ll work with you to create an unforgettable experience.

Mini Bios

Learn about over 200 notable individuals buried in the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex. Click here to read their stories.

  • Wilmer McLean’s improbable witness to both the first and last battles of the Civil War.
  • Samuel Cooper, the fiery 16-year-old patriot involved in the Boston Tea Party.
  • The overlooked 1814 Potomac River naval battle that set the stage for America’s national anthem.
  • Samuel Johnston’s fateful scouting that steered Confederate plans at Gettysburg.
  • Dennis Ramsay’s historic use of the title “Mr. President” for George Washington.
  • Alexandria naval officer Sydney Smith Lee’s role in opening Japan.
  • The perilous 1848 slave escape attempt aboard The Pearl.
  • Reverend Fields Cook’s contributions to African American civil rights.
  • The tragic aftermath of Little Bighorn.
  • The journey of Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School football team of Remember the Titans fame.
  • The sacred ground of Alexandria National Cemetery.

. . .and many more astounding true stories that will amaze you!

Join us for an unforgettable experience that brings Alexandria’s past to life and showcases its integral role in shaping the American story.

See What Our Guests Are Saying

Don’t just take our word for it. As featured by Visit Alexandria Now, the Alexandria Visitor’s Center, and touted by fellow area tour guides, guests consistently rank our Alexandria history tours as the best they have ever experienced. Visitors routinely call the tours “fascinating,” “moving,” and “unforgettable”—overflowing with praise about this premier Alexandria history experience.

Explore the Historic Background of Alexandria’s Cemeteries

Discover the captivating history of 18th-century burials in Alexandria and the influential role of the Anglican Church in shaping the city’s cemeteries. Visit our Historic Background tab to explore the origins of the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex.

Find a Cemetery and Cemetery Guides and Maps

Cazenove Family Plot with obelisks at Alexandria's Presbyterian Cemetery, a highlight of Alexandria history tours.
The Cazenove Family Plot, filled with obelisks, is part of The Presbyterian Cemetery within Alexandria, Virginia’s Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex. The monuments create an atmosphere, inviting reflection on the lives and legacies of this 19th-century family.

Are you looking to explore more of Alexandria’s cemeteries on your own? Visit our Find a Cemetery tab for a comprehensive guide. Check out our Cemetery Guides and Maps tab for additional information and our informative brochure about Gravestone Stories.

Blog

Check out our latest blog posts for more stories and insights into Alexandria’s history.

Contact Us

Have questions or need more information? Reach out to us.

Community Events

Stay updated on local events and activities, such as the annual Flags-in-the-Ground, Wreaths Across America, and our Juneteenth Douglas Cemetery Remembrance.

Alexandria National Cemetery gravestones are decorated with flags and flowers, a moving site on Alexandria history tours.
American flags and flowers are placed next to gravestones in the Alexandria National Cemetery, a tradition observed each Memorial Day Saturday to honor the sacrifices made by those who served the country.

Uncover Remarkable Tales 

Join us for an unforgettable experience that brings Alexandria’s past to life and showcases its integral role in shaping the American story.

Why Choose Gravestone Stories?

  • Uncover Alexandria’s hidden histories through engaging and informative tours.
  • Experience a unique outdoor museum that brings the past to life.
  • MakGain a deeper understanding of the people and events that shaped Alexandria and the nation.

Explore Photos

Discover captivating photos from our past tours and events, showcasing the rich history of Alexandria’s cemeteries. Highlights include memorable moments such as former President Barack Obama at the 2024 Flags-in-the-Ground.

Former President Obama spoke to volunteers before the annual Flags-in-the-Ground at Alexandria National Cemetery on Saturday, May 25, 2024. With him is VFW Post 609 Commander Jerry Krueger

Explore more of these moments and others by browsing through our photo gallery.

Join Us on This Journey

Join us on a journey through time and discover the hidden stories that make Alexandria a unique and fascinating place. Book your tour today and become part of the history shaping our nation.

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Stay connected and follow us on Facebook for the latest updates, tour information, and fascinating historical insights about Alexandria.

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