A historical marker in Cumberland County, Virginia, tells the story of a remarkable community that emerged after the Civil War. Lucyville, named after Lucy Coleman, the wife of a former slave who became a successful entrepreneur, was home to both Black and white families who lived and worked together in harmony.
One of the most surprising facts about Lucyville is that among its residents was a Confederate veteran named William A. Flippen, who fought for the South in the war that ended slavery. Flippen, who was wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg, was buried in Lucyville in 1919, on the land of Reuben T. Coleman, a formerly enslaved man who had purchased the property from his former master.
How did Flippen end up in Lucyville, and why did he choose to be buried there? The answer is not clear, but some clues can be found in the history of the area and the people who lived there. According to the historical marker, which was researched and written by students at Cumberland Middle School, Flippen was a friend of Reuben Coleman’s son, John, who also served in the Confederate army. John Coleman, who was born free, joined the Confederate cause because he wanted to protect his family’s land and property. He later became a prominent businessman and politician in Cumberland County.
Flippen and John Coleman may have met during the war, or after it, when they both returned to their homes in Cumberland County. They may have bonded over their shared experiences as veterans, or their mutual interests in farming and commerce. They may have also shared a respect for Reuben Coleman, who was a leader in the community and a generous benefactor to many causes, including the local school and church.
Whatever the reason, Flippen decided to join the Lucyville community, where he lived peacefully with his former enemies. He also chose to be buried there, in a cemetery that was shared by Black and white families. His grave, marked by a simple stone, is a testament to the complex and surprising history of race relations in post-Civil War Virginia.