Softball and baseball were played by Spotsylvania's African American children, teens and young adults in back yards, on church grounds and in open ﬁelds. Some, such as Layton Fairchild, Sr. (right), grew up playing baseball and were privileged to play on an organized team in the U.S. Army during World War ll.
Adjacent to Sylvannah Baptist Church were 9.64 acres owned by the estate of Liston Lewis. On July 12, 1952, Elmore Lawson (below) purchased that acreage and constructed a baseball diamond. Lawson was a farmer, carpenter, and construction contractor who also owned and operated a sawmill. He was born January 26, 1882, to Isaac and Julia Weathers Lawson, and was father of 17 all with first wife, Cora Stannard Lawson who died in 1938.
Young men who as children played baseball in their spare time and/or on the team for the John J. Wright School now used this newly constructed diamond as their home ﬁeld. They called themselves the Spotsylvania Yellow Jackets and used their own finances to purchases equipment and uniforms. Teams throughout the Commonwealth came to play them, and they often travelled and returned victorious. Saturdays and after church on Sundays, the bleachers were ﬁlled with cheering fans as they watched young men such as Roy and Roger Lewis, Alfred Coleman, Rudolph Williams, the Fairchild brothers Alfred Jr., Aaron and Layton, and others display skills that perhaps in another time would have brought them fame and fortune in a professional league.
The African American Heritage Trail is supported in part by a Preserve America grant administered by the National Park Service, United States Department of the Interior. This product is based upon work assisted by a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of the Interior.