Cemeteries quietly stay low-key during Halloween
Virginian-Pilot, The (Norfolk, VA) - Thursday, October 30, 2008

By Irene Bowers



Underwater, under roads and right under our noses, many of Bayside's cemeteries mark the years in quiet decline.

Some belong to the city's department of museums and others have connections to historic churches.

Starr Donlon, Virginia Beach museum educator, said burial spots come into vogue during the Halloween season, but are largely forgotten during the remainder of the year.

"We don't have any recorded haunting or sightings, so it's typically low-key," she said of the Adam Thoroughgood and Lynnhaven houses. "Old Donation Episcopal Church has the best cemetery here, with Revolutionary War-era gravestones."

The city's founding father, Adam Thoroughgood, and his family were buried in a parish cemetery near what is now Church Point.

"It's all underwater," Donlon said. "People occasionally claim to know where in the river the headstones are, but none have been recovered."

The eroding coastline caused the parish to build a new structure farther inland, at Old Donation Episcopal Church on Witchduck Road. There, the cemetery holds members of the Walke family, including Col. Anthony Walke, of the House of Burgesses, who died at age 76 in 1768, and a William Walke, who died at age 33 in 1795.

Two unmarked graves were discovered at Adam Thoroughgood House, circa 1719, decades back when the city was doing work on the property, according to Donlon.

"One was supposedly female but we don't know about the second," she said. "They covered them back up, and we can only guess where they are now."

Lynnhaven House, circa 1725, has a family plot in the backyard, with above-ground crypts of the Boush families. The names on the oldest crypts are those of "Wm. F.W. Boush," deceased 1818, and Revolutionary patriot William Boush, deceased 1834.

Strangely enough, none of the crypts holds bodies. They are interred in the ground below.

In Bayside, two African-American cemeteries all but miss notice.

The city's first slave church, Ebenezer Baptist, has a modest cemetery on Diamond Springs Road that is dwarfed by a busy intersection and nearby Food Lion shopping center.

More recent plots bear plastic flowers, but many older markers hide under ivy or overgrown hydrangeas, one toppled headstone bearing the date 1914.

Simon Elliott and his wife Rosetta's stones are marked 1916.

"History kind of marches on around them, as the land gets developed," said Joyce Venning, clerk for historic Morning Star Baptist Church, which had early ties to Ebenezer Baptist .

Morning Star has more immediate connections to privately owned Jones Memorial Park on North Witchduck Road, a well-treed seven acres surrounded by modest Aragona Pembroke houses.

Caretaker Joseph Land is in his 70s and has been looking after the property for years. An associate with Morning Star Baptist, Land said the oldest graves were marked with wooden crosses or other impermanent materials.

"We know they're here, underground, but the coffins were wood and the markers are gone, so they are just lost."

He believes the oldest standing marker is from 1912.

"It's quiet here," he said. " Memorial Day is the only time it gets busy."

Irene Bowers, bowersi@aol.com
Edition: BEACON FR
Page: 36
Record Number: 1009117493
Copyright (c) 2008 The Virginian-Pilot

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