Welcome to Gravestone Stories: Unearthing Alexandria’s Hidden Narratives

Join our celebrated walking tours showcasing over 200 years of Alexandria history at the historic Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, consistently praised as a one-of-a-kind experience. Over 1.5-2 hours, our signature guided tours will immerse you in captivating, untold stories of those laid to rest here that reveal our city’s past. Discover why Alexandria’s history is so intricately woven into the broader American narrative as you uncover stories of key figures, events, and more buried right here.

Tour Options:

  • Public Tours – Available most Saturdays, uncover over 200 years of Alexandria’s diverse history for just $20/person
  • Private Tours – For a more customizable experience tailored to your unique interests, inquire about private tour options.

Featured Stories:

  • Wilmer McLean’s improbable witness to both the first and last battles of the Civil War.
  • Meet the fiery 16-year-old patriot Samuel Cooper, who dumped tea into Boston Harbor and battled at “other sanguinary Fields.”
  • Relive Alexandria’s valiant yet overlooked 1814 Potomac River naval battle – known as the “Battle of the White House” – which directly set the stage for writing America’s iconic national anthem in the aftermath.
  • Hear Samuel Johnston’s fateful Gettysburg scouting that steered Confederate plans—linked, by some, to pivotal defeat.
  • Uncover the origins of the enduring title “Mr. President,” first used by Dennis Ramsay to address George Washington at a 1789 farewell party, setting a precedent still honored today.
  • Meet globetrotting Alexandria naval officer Sydney Smith Lee, who helped open Japan while his prominent brother emerged as the top Confederate leader in the Civil War.
  • Relive the perilous 1848 slave escape attempt aboard The Pearl, which galvanized abolitionists and inspired a book that pushed the nation toward war.
  • Pay tribute to Reverend Fields Cook, an influential African American civil rights pioneer.
  • Hear the tragic first-hand account of arriving at Little Bighorn’s aftermath from an army surgeon, whose family legacy traces back to the American Revolution, where his great-grandfather, John Paulding, played a pivotal role in capturing John André, the British spy conspiring with Benedict Arnold.
  • Relive the journey behind Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School football team of Remember the Titans fame. Learn Julius Campbell’s pivotal leadership role on this integrated squad that succeeded in becoming state champions amidst racial divides in 1971.
  • Step into Alexandria National Cemetery, the pioneering historic resting place where 249 United States Colored Troop soldiers rest in solemn vigil. This hallowed ground harbors whispers of valor — the fight for liberty echoing through every memorial stone. Join us in this sacred embrace of heritage and sacrifice, where Civil War heroes guard America’s enduring promise of equality in their eternal slumber beneath these solemn trees.

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

Rave Reviews

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 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.

Dive Deeper into Alexandria’s Histories

Deepen your discovery of Alexandria’s history through our Gravestone Stories blog and Notable Burials collection, featuring 200+ mini-biographies of figures like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution, Dr. James Craik – George Washington’s close surgeon friend, General John Mason who sent Francis Scott Key on the mission that inspired the writing of the Star Spangled Banner, Robert Adam who signed the Fairfax Resolves, Alva Harvey, a U.S. Army Air Service member during the 1924 First Flight Around the World, and many more captivating life stories etched in Alexandria.

Continue Your Exploration with Our Blog

Expand your discovery of Alexandria’s history through the Gravestone Stories blog – your resource for even deeper insights into the city’s hidden narratives.

Our blog entries further chronicle additional stories and context beyond the over 200 mini-biographies. Delve into rich historical accounts through our blog, separate from the abbreviated bios.

Whether you’re a history buff or just curious, the Gravestone Stories blog lets you continue uncovering true Alexandria stories that shaped America.

Why Choose Gravestone Stories?

The Cazenove Family Plot: An Enduring 19th-Century Legacy in Alexandria History
  • Bring Alexandria’s Hidden Histories to Light. Our fully customized tours uncover captivating stories found nowhere else.
  • Make Local History Accessible. We’re invested in community education and awareness of these meaningful stories.
  • Support Preservation Efforts. Your participation sustains the cemetery restoration work preserving these sites.
Decorated Civil War Veterans’ Graves in Alexandria National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2022, reflecting on chapters of Alexandria’s past.

Plan Your Visit

Continue Your Journey

Join us on a remarkable passage through time – book a one-of-a-kind tour revealing Alexandria’s hidden histories today.

Explore The Website

Learn more about available public and private tour options, featured stories covered, scheduling, and more as you plan your visit.

Getting To The Cemetery Complex

Detailed directions, including parking, accessibility routes, and options.

Let’s venture into the past together!

  • Driving Directions: For detailed directions, click here! Street parking is available on Wilkes Street and Hamilton Avenue.
  • On Foot:
    • From Old Town: It’s just a mile’s walk to the complex. Find Wilkes Street and walk west.
    • From Carlyle: Head east on Jamison Ave, cross Hooff’s Run, and enter through Alexandria National Cemetery on Jamison or via Christ Church Cemetery.
  • By Trolley: Take the free King Street Trolley to King St. & West St., then enjoy a short walk to the complex.
The Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex is conveniently located a short walk from the King Street Trolley stop, allowing easy access to explore this remarkable site of Alexandria history.

Step Into the Past

At Gravestone Stories, we offer more than just a tour – an immersive portal revealing Alexandria’s hidden histories. Join us on a tour this season to uncover the captivating stories etched across time.

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