Hidden in Plain Sight - Revealing the Concealed Harpers Ferry Cemeteries

This is a history-based documentary entitled “Hidden in Plain Sight - Revealing the Concealed Harpers Ferry Cemeteries.” Two cemeteries are featured. One cemetery was set aside by the United States Armory at Harpers Ferry in 1852 at the request of the citizenry, where Union soldiers were later buried. Another holds the remains of African American residents, including an African American Union soldier. Both are investigated using public records, interviews with local residents, and other clues to explain why these cemeteries were ignored in a town so rich in history.

In the film, a wandering line is drawn through and between cholera epidemics and devastating floods, clergy and judiciary, Jefferson County and Liberia, Niagara Falls and the Shenandoah River - finding ordinary people living otherwise ordinary lives thrust into chaotic, threatening and unfamiliar circumstances. That is the history of the United States.

So long as pivotal events are described as aberrations on an otherwise flat shiny surface, people won’t see their collective reflection in a country’s drama. This documentary hopes to dispel that notion and reveal that we have, like those before us, important roles to play.

  • Cynthia M. Gayton
    Director
  • Cynthia M. Gayton
    Writer
  • Cynthia M. Gayton
    Producer
  • T. Jason Edwards
    Producer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 38 minutes 40 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 9, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
    16:9
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    Yes
  • Student Project:
    No
Director Biography - Cynthia M. Gayton

Cynthia M. Gayton was born and raised in Seattle, Washington. She moved to Washington, DC to attend college and later to Arlington, Virginia where she has lived for several years. Since coming to the area, she has steeped herself in the region's history and has supported that interest with legal and academic practice. Over time, Cynthia extended that interest into the arts. Her annual pilgrimage to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia resulted in a steampunk art gallery that featured regional artists. The gallery was also an opportunity to talk about Harpers Ferry history and continue research and writing with a specific concentration on little known people, places and events, resulting in a few short stories and a completed novel. Some research didn't make it to the page, but she was encouraged to do something with the work, culminating in the Rabbit Hole History documentary project with her husband, T. Jason Edwards.

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Director Statement

Thank you for taking a look at "Hidden in Plain Sight - Revealing the Concealed Harpers Ferry Cemeteries." I have always been fascinated with old maps, and this documentary features many. What drew me to these specific cemeteries was the fact that they appeared in maps and deeds, but few people knew about them. Harpers Ferry is not big, but its history looms large, so this was surprising.

I began looking at the maps shown in this documentary many years ago for background on Hill Top House, a hotel built by T.S. Lovett, an African American businessman who built the hotel in 1888. Over the past year, I got sidetracked with the cemeteries and thought that they would make fascinating documentary subjects. In the film, local residents and interviewees, Pastor Edward Hall and Bonnie Zampino, highlight Harpers Ferry's communities and families. The stories, like the town's history, closely trace that of the United States.

I was fortunate to have the support, video editing expertise and sound engineering skills of my husband, T. Jason Edwards, along with T. L. Wilson's sound assistant support, as well as music direction and music by C. Clark Gayton, Jr.

I hope you enjoy it.