Wednesday, July 09, 2014

I Dare You, Request This From Your HOA

Well, here's something you don't expect to see while jogging through a residential neighborhood: a graveyard in a family's front yard. In this case, it's the Traver's Family Graveyard and it has this plaque:

John N. and Elizabeth Causins Travers established a 30-acre farm here in 1832, when Arlington was rural and had less than 1,500 inhabitants. Over the years the land was subdivided. Descendants and kin lived here, contributing to the life of Arlington into the 20th century. The graveyard on family land continued a burial tradition common in the rural south. At least 15 members of the related Travers, Whitehead, and Dyer families were interred here, including John N. Travers (d. 1837). His will asks that this space "bee reserved for a bury ground for the family...on my west line nevour to bee parted with or tilled as long as eternity shall last." In 1990, there were 15 marked and likely more unmarked graves.

And sure enough, the 25x45 foot graveyard includes a number of markers:

The oldest grave is apparently from the 1830's, which in many respects isn't that long ago. But man, have times changed. I'd love to see someone try to get a family burial ground past the typical HOA board. Still, it might be less painful than say, trying to build a streetcar.

Thanks to my Brother David for taking me on a running route that passes the cemetery. I do love discovering something new and unusual on a run, and a front-yard graveyard definitely meets that criteria!

Discover the graveyard for yourself by running in this neighborhood.

Another marker of note in the area is the one at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. The story behind the church is remarkable:

As soon as the smoking guns of the Civil War were finally silenced, a group of former slaves banded themselves together in what was then known as Freedmen’s Village, a government reservation in the area of Arlington National Cemetery, and founded a Baptist Church. This Church was named The Old Bell Church. From these humble beginnings in the year 1866, the Mt. Zion Baptist Church was born. It is the oldest of the Black congregations in Arlington. Today it is a magnificent temple, a light shining in the darkness, “A city set on a hill” reaching out to the masses in an attempt to fulfill the works of the Master, “To heal the sick, feed the poor, clothe the naked, comfort the sorrowful and bring deliverance to the captives.”

This church means that we're one connection away from the freed slaves of the Civil War. Amazing.

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