Unexpected Cemetery

Old Graves

I have a confession to make: I’m not actually all that interested in history. I am an active member of Markeroni, and yet I don’t generally read the markers I snarf until much later, if at all. What motivates me are 1, fierce competition with a good friend (okay, so it’s not actually even remotely fierce), and 2, an excuse to explore. See, history happens everywhere, and I have found that the more remote the location, the more likely it is to showcase its history (mostly because it lacks any other claim to fame).  A few weeks ago I decided to blow off the SketchCrawl in Washington, DC, in favor of wandering the northwestern reaches of Loudoun County. My route took me all around the Virginian countryside. I photographed several markers and historic properties, but the most memorable parts of my day were the stops not on my map.

Outside looking in

On my way to Mt. Olive Methodist Church in Gleedsville (now a Unitarian church), I passed by a tiny sign pointing the way to Gleedsville Cemetery. I love cemeteries. I find them endlessly fascinating. So after snarfing the church, I turned onto the “road” which was actually just two graveled ruts between overgrown trees. I hastily declared my Honda Civic to be an all-terrain vehicle and prayed I wasn’t actually traveling on a private driveway.

As seen from the entrance

But no, the path eventually opened up into a large field lined with headstones. It was an odd mix of old and new graves, including some clear sites (that is, the ground was decidedly sunken) that were completely unmarked. Most of the center of the clearing was completely empty of stones, and there was a lone wooden cross just to the left of the entrance with a trampled metal marker with decals (the sort one would put on their mailbox) spelling out the name of a man who died in the 1930s. This was not the first time I’d seen something like this, but it was by far the oldest grave labeled thus.

One of many sunken, unmarked graves

I didn’t know at the time that Gleedsville was actually a rather important settlement by ex-slaves from nearby Oatlands Plantation, many of whom would probably not have been able to afford a stone marker. There is a good chance that the open space in the center of the clearing is full of graves, their signs long gone.

One last look

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  1. That was really interesting! Also, nice clear photographs.

  2. That is totally cool! I love cemetaries too, the most obscure and remote the better because they tend to have older stones and a cooler feel. Thanks for sharing!

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