Cemetery Masthead_final for now
Cemeteries in Virginia: A Newsletter from the Department of Historic Resources
Nov, 2021
Vol. 1 Issue 3
In this issue: *Grave Markers for Veterans *German Folk Art at McGavock Cemetery *Denton Cenotaph *13 Buffalo Soldiers, Cuffeytown Cemetery *Dining with the Dead *Preservation and Social Media *A new tool for documenting cemeteries *News Clips and More
Welcome to another issue of GraveMatters. This one arrives on the heels of Veterans Day, and we have two features relating to military graves. DHR historian Lena S. McDonald looks at the changing designs of government-issued military markers, beginning with the Civil War. DHR archaeologist profiles 13 U.S. Colored Troops' graves at a cemetery in Chesapeake. Our regular contributor DHR conservator Katherine Ridgway discusses "dining with the dead." Guest blogger Renee Spaar, at Virginia Tech, and DHR archaeologist Tom Klatka look at German folk art on grave markers at McGavock Cemetery in Wythe Co. And DHR introduces a new tool for helping us to record and document cemeteries in Virginia.
Please send feedback and questions to gravematters@dhr.virginia.gov.
Thanks and have a wonderful holiday season and New Year. We'll see you on the flip side!
Marker for John B. Whiting
Marker at Oak Grove Baptist Church Cemetery (York Co.) for John B. Whiting, who served in the Civil War.

Grave Markers for Veterans: Military History in a Rural Cemetery

A visitor to most cemeteries in Virginia sees markers for servicemen and servicewomen who served from the Civil War up to the present. The stone slabs, made famous by images of row upon row at national cemeteries such as Arlington, are stark reminders of the sacrifices made by those who answered the call to duty. These markers are found in cemeteries large and small, in urban and rural areas, in church cemeteries established in the 19th century, municipal burying grounds of the early 20th century, and privately owned lawn cemeteries of the post-World War II period. Read more . . .
McGavock Cemetery (DHR photo, 1982)
Profile of a Historic Virginia Cemetery

Germanic Folk Art at the McGavock Family Cemetery, Wythe County

Some of the more fascinating cemeteries in Wythe County are those featuring headstones adorned with German folk art designs. Most of these cemeteries are associated with churches of German Lutheran congregations tracing to the late 18th century. . . Read more. . .
Speaking of Germanic folk art, are you familiar with the Denton Cenotaph? It was carved sometime after 1805 by Laurence Krone, the most noted of the early-19th-century Roanoke Valley German stone carvers. The cenotaph is listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places. Read more about it.
Cuffeytown Cemetery
Cuffeytown Cemetery, Chesapeake

13 Buffalo Soldiers, Cuffeytown Cemetery,
City of Chesapeake

In January of 2020, DHR archaeologist Mike Clem traveled to Cuffeytown Cemetery, in Chesapeake, to document the number of burials dating prior to 1900, as well as those of people born before 1900 but who died in the 20th century. Here’s Mike’s report:
Read more . . .
People picnic in a cemetery.

Dining with the Dead

Modern Americans can be very fussy about who they eat their meals with and they tend to be pretty conservative about what goes on in their cemeteries.

This has not always been the case. Read more . . .
Graveyard with social media logos superimposed
Cemetery Conservation & Stewardship

Social Media: Beware

In many ways, social media has been a boon to those who want to preserve cemeteries and the gravestones contained within. Platforms like Facebook (recently renamed Meta), TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and others can provide quick access to information on numerous topics. Read more . . .
Grave marker.
A gravestone at Mount Fair slave cemetery in Albemarle Co. (Photo courtesy of John Macfarlane)

Report a Cemetery to DHR with a New Online Tool

Do you know about a cemetery that needs attention?
Make sure that DHR knows about it, too!
Report it to us with our new online map tool and form.
Using your mobile device or computer, provide DHR with some basic information about the cemetery and its location. We will check our records and connect a DHR staff member with you for follow up. And please note: Recording a cemetery using this form will begin the process of adding it to our databases at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, but it does not guarantee protection of the burial ground.

African American Cemetery & Graves Fund

Recent cemeteries and affiliated groups awarded funding since July 2021:
  • East End Cemetery, Henrico County
  • Evergreen Cemetery, City of Richmond
  • Locust Grove Cemetery, Stephens City, Frederick County
  • Mt. Olivet Cemetery, City of Richmond
  • Waterford Union of Churches Cemetery, Waterford, Loudoun County
Visit this DHR webpage to see a complete list of the graveyards and organizations that DHR has certified to receive the African American cemetery grave funds. For more information about the grant program, visit DHR's Grants webpage.

Cemetery-Related News from Around Virginia and Beyond:

The Grave of Oderus Urungus
Near the entrance to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond Virginia, visitors will find a flat stone large enough for a full-size depiction of a man wearing fantasy armor with a sword laid over the body. This is the cenotaph, or memorial stone for Dave Brockie, frontman and founding member of the heavy metal band, GWAR. As the character Oderus Urungus, Brockie spent his life traveling the world and performing as a space monster until he passed away in 2014.

A vow to honor history of lost Black cemetery
Aug. 23 / RTD (Washington Post)
The broken remnants of headstones representing 55 lives — some famous, some forgotten — lay on rough wooden pallets on Monday as the leaders of Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia spoke of atonement.

Lives from the Catlett Cemetery at Timberneck
Fairfield Foundation Blog
The Catlett cemetery at Timberneck is the final resting place for many members of the Catlett’s extensive family. Our effort to preserve and interpret the house includes stewardship of the cemetery, and our goal is to explore the lives and stories of the family members buried there.

Gravesite belonging to historic Black church discovered behind power plant on Waller Mill Road; members seek access and question possible move of graves
Aug.31 / Virginia Gazette
A fringe gravesite belonging to Oak Grove Baptist Church was recently discovered after a timber company caused damage to the property.

First Baptist Church descendants meet with experts, discuss future of historic burials found at dig site
Nov.8 / Virginia Gazette
The First Baptist Church descendant community met with a group of panelists recently to discuss their options and next steps following the discovery of graves at the historic church site.

VCU building will tell the story of centuries-old human remains found in 1994 at the bottom of a well
Sept. 28 / Richmond Times-Dispatch
In 1994, construction workers in downtown Richmond found the remains of 53 people, including nine children, strewn at the bottom of a well. The bodies were largely of African descent, and they were determined to be from the late 1700s to about 1850.

Eleanor Rigby's Grave, St. Peter's Church, Liverpool
What do we know about the real woman behind one of the Beatles' most famous songs?