Friday, January 11, 2013

Cemetery Project


Cemetery Project

Chaired by Judith Taylor McGarvey, the Society's Cemetery Project was inspired by the work done in the early 1970s by Jane Kirkpatrick Wall, one of the founding members of the Fairfax Genealogical Society. Recognizing the need to record gravestone inscriptions before they were destroyed by weather, vandalism, theft or development, she surveyed many of the county's cemeteries and graveyards, extracted information from extant gravestones and then donated her work to theVirginia Room of the Fairfax City Regional Library. Her surveys have been a valuable resource to genealogists researching in Fairfax County for over two decades.

In the mid 1980s, the Society decided to update and publish Jane Wall's work, and to survey other graveyards and cemeteries not included in her original project. The administration of the Fairfax County Public Library granted the Society permission to use Jane Wall's documents in our publications.

The Society began by locating all known surveys of Fairfax County cemeteries and comparing them to the Wall surveys. We are especially indebted to Carrie White Avery who conducted surveys in the early 1920s, Aurelia M. Jewell who conducted surveys in the late 1940s and early 1950s and to Brian Conley, Information Specialist in the Virginia Room, Fairfax City Regional Library, who has expended much effort to pinpoint the locations of the more than 350 burial locations in the county.

After all surveys were compared, each cemetery containing gravestones was surveyed again, and then checked again in the months before publication. All discrepancies between readings were carefully analyzed. If the surveyor felt that discrepancies arose because a new gravestone had been erected or there were other extenuating circumstances, the inscription from the older survey is included. If a gravestone was recorded in an early survey, and not found several years later (or is illegible), the extract from the earlier survey is included and we indicate the source of the information.

Unless otherwise stated, each cemetery in our volumes has been surveyed or resurveyed during the year preceding publication.

Of the many burial locations in the county, our main focus has been on those which have gravestones or markers with inscriptions, but information about cemeteries with unmarked graves is included as well, to provide as many clues as possible for the family historian.

Since the location of a burial site may be important to family research, we have given detailed directions to each cemetery. Please ask for permission to visit cemeteries which lie on private property.
Early in this project, Society members realized how difficult it is to avoid mistakes. We hope that by recognizing our fallibility we have minimized the misinformation we may pass along to our fellow researchers. We have checked, double-checked and triple-checked our surveys and investigated discrepancies with further field checks in order to report the most accurate information possible.

The inscriptions and other information presented are not primary evidence. We have gathered together a wealth of clues which we are eager to share with our fellow genealogists. We wish you much luck with your search!
Fairfax County, Virginia Gravestones
Ordering information may be found on the Society Shop page.
With the release of Volume VI, Society members, friends, and neighbors of the Fairfax Genealogical Society have completed a project which has spanned two decades. Our Society has recorded the information of genealogical significance on the gravestones in the over 350 noncommercial cemeteries in Fairfax County. The results have been compared with previous surveys and all discrepancies rechecked and verified. We have published this information in a six-volume series, Fairfax County, Virginia Gravestones.
These volumes began with the desire to share the cemetery surveys done by Society member Jane Kirkpatrick Wall during the 1970s. As the project progressed, it went through several permutations until eventually the Society decided to publish information about all of the known cemeteries in the county. We are grateful to the administration of the Fairfax County Public Library who granted the Society permission to use Jane Wall's documents in our publications.
We divided the county into five geographical areas based on postal zip codes and developed a volume of gravestone inscriptions for each area. These five volumes are:
  • Volume I, Northern Section: Great Falls, McLean, Oakton, Vienna
  • Volume II, Southern Section: Burke, Clifton, Fairfax Station, Springfield
  • Volume III, Central Section: Annandale, Fairfax City, Falls Church
  • Volume IV, Western Section: Centreville, Chantilly, Herndon, Reston
  • Volume V, Eastern Section: Fort Belvoir, Lincolnia, Lorton, Mason Neck, South Alexandria
  • Volume VI, Master Index with Corrections, Additions and Updates
Each volume contains descriptions and locations of all of the cemeteries in the geographical area as well as genealogical information extracted from all of the gravestones in all of the noncommercial cemeteries in the area. Each volume has a full-name index and Volume VI has a master full-name index to all six volumes.

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