Tuesday, April 8, 2014

PUBLIC NOTICE: County Requests Information about Identity of Cemetery

Several weeks ago I was contacted by representatives of the Prince William Public Works and the Coles District Volunteer Fire and Rescue Station regarding a small, abandoned cemetery beside the Fire House.  The County is trying to determine the identity of those who may be buried within the cemetery and, if possible, if there are any living descendants.

Unlike the Lynn Cemetery on the 12th High School construction site, this cemetery was never "lost."  Once upon a time, it even had an engraved tombstone that definitively named one of those buried therein.  The stone read:

To the Memory of
Chas. E. Norman
Was born May 22, 1814
Departed this life
Oct. 8, 1855
Aged 41 yrs, 4 mos, 16 days

Somewhere along the way, the stone was removed and relocated to Ebenezer Baptist Church Cemetery in Loudoun County -- presumably by a descendant.   The other graves remained behind, marked by simple quartz field stones.  No names.  No dates.  No identities.

Charles Edward Norman, Sr. was a magistrate and a merchant in PWCo.  He married Mary Frances Lynn, the daughter of Benson Lynn.  Yes, that's right -- yet another cemetery with a Lynn connection.  Not too surprising, really.  The Lynn clan owned quite a lot of farmland in Independent Hill in the mid-1800's.  But are those resting in this cemetery Lynn/Norman kin -- or another family altogether?


Prince William Public Works and the Coles District Volunteer Fire and Rescue Station have posted a Notice on the PWCo Government's website seeking the Public's help.  Anyone with information about the identity of the cemetery is asked to contact Matthew Corneliussen (703-792-5296) or Lou Ann Dorrier (703-792-6674).

Following is the full text, with a link to the Prince William County Government website:

There’s an abandoned cemetery near the Coles District Volunteer Fire and Rescue Station with graves that have been left unmarked over time, and the Prince William Public Works Department needs help in identifying who might be buried there.

“First and foremost, what we want to do is identify who’s in the cemetery,” said Matthew Corneliussen, an engineer with the Facilities Construction Management division of the County’s Public Works Department. “We’re just looking to find family members of people who may be buried there.”

From the gravestones that remain at the cemetery, Public Works officials have determined that they are looking for people who might know anything about the Norman or Tinsill families in particular, or anyone who might know something about the graveyard generally. “We’re sort of putting a call out for anybody who knows any information about the cemetery,” Corneliussen said. “Through courthouse records and genealogy records, there’s potential that there may be additional families. That’s why we’re hoping that if anyone knows anything about it, they’ll come forward and share that information with us.”

The little graveyard with 12 to 14 graves isn’t unknown to people, Corneliussen said. The Prince William Historic Commission examined and documented the site about 20 years ago. There are a few headstones and footstones to attest to some of the burial plots, but indentations in the ground indicate that there are also other graves in the cemetery.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Matthew Corneliussen at 703-792-5296 or Lou Ann Dorrier at 703-792-6674.

The cemetery is located near the site where the new Coles District Volunteer Fire and Rescue Station is scheduled to be completed by late 2015.

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