I found my great-great-great grandparents Broaddus and Caroline’s grave sites on Google Maps a few days ago.
I’d been trying to find the location of the family farm in Virginia where my grandmother and mother used go to visit relatives decades ago. I thought it would be interesting to go see it because I’ve never been there. When my mother was a kid in the 1950s and 1960s, she remembers going to the farm and visiting her great grandmother, and she remembers that the house didn’t have indoor plumbing. They still used an outhouse!
She said that her great grandmother, Mary, would say that as long as she was alive, nobody was putting indoor plumbing in her house.
Anyway, so I hadn’t been able to track down the farm. My grandmother and mother don’t remember where it was. But during yet another internet search, I happened to see a mention of someone’s family cemetery and couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought to try searching for that before. So I tried searching for the family name, “Virginia”, and “cemetery”.
And sure enough, on the first page of results there was a posting by a random lady who had visited the cemetery a couple years ago and she had written down the names and birth/death dates of all the legible markers. Even better, she had included exact map coordinates.
I stuck the coordinates into oogle-Gay aps-May and poof, family farm.
First, I checked out the cemetery on StreetView because it happens to be located about three feet from the road and the camera caught it. The images were taken in the spring or early summer because everything was green and the crape myrtles were in full bloom. You can see three rickety wooden steps and a little gate leading to the grave sites, and if you zoom in, on the biggest headstone you can just make out the last name I was hoping to see.
According to the lady’s list, the last person buried there died in 2008. It’s obvious that someone is maintaining the cemetery (or was when oogle-Gay passed by) because the entire area is carefully landscaped and they even put flowers on individual graves. Hopefully this means that a family member still owns the land!
Now I zoomed back out to see where the cemetery was. The photo below is from ing-Bay because theirs was prettier.
From the road at the bottom to the bottom edge of the clearing at the top, it’s all one lot, except for a sliver around the white house directly to the right of brown field. This makes sense because my grandma said that the younger generation had been building new stuff on the farmland.
There’s an older neighborhood on the left, and a giant McMansions development to the right and at the top.
The land records I found said the sliver had been sold in 1975 for $1000 dollars. The same source said the other house on the big chunk of land was built in 1900. Maybe that’s the famous no-indoor-plumbing house?
Oddly, I also found a record of sale for a house a little ways down the road that was also built in 1900, and sold in 2010 by a relative to a non-profit organization. I wonder if it used to be part of the farm too? Were those the people who maintained the cemetery?
Oogle-Gay helpfully showed me that someone was running a business out of one of the houses on the (possible) farm, and she has a website…with an email address listed.
I’m going to email her and see what she knows.
ISN’T THE INTERNET AWESOME!
What struck me about this whole thing was when I first found the cemetery description and saw the years that Broaddus and Caroline were born and died. It says he was born in 1852 and died in 1929, and she was born in 1851 and died in 1943.
My grandma was born in 1929. So when she was a little girl and even a teenager, she might have known and talked to people who were alive during slavery, and alive during the Civil War. Next time I talk to her, I’m going to ask if she ever met them.
The past is not as far behind as we think it is.