By James Scott Baron The Free Lance–Star
Three Civil War-era headstones taken from a rural grave site about 15 years ago have recently returned to the same family cemetery in Stafford County.
“Fortunately, whoever had the headstone inscribed noted that Lucy Ennever was from Stafford County, Virginia,” Jerrilynn Eby MacGregor said. “Oh, yes, we knew Lucy and we knew exactly where she belonged.”
MacGregor, a member of the Stafford County Historical Society, said three of the seven documented headstones in Ennever-Lucas Cemetery were likely “broken” at their base by vandals who removed them. The Old Cemetery is behind the large parking lot at Manheim Fredericksburg, a wholesale vehicle market near the Interstate 95 and US 17 interchange.
“I have no idea why this is happening,” said Anita Dodd, who serves on the Stafford Historical Commission. “It’s not the first time we’ve seen this happen in cemeteries, where people take stones. I do not know why.
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The cemetery is also the site of an ongoing Eagle Scout project to restore its grounds, as well as stones that have been damaged over the years. The Scout in charge of the project said the work was about 95% complete.
“It was a team effort between the Stafford Cemetery Committee, the Stafford Historical Society, Craig Amelung and an Eagle Scout,” MacGregor said.
In 2008, before the Automobile Distribution Center existed, Dodd visited the rural family cemetery, which at the time was still buried deep in the woods under heavy overgrowth. Dodd counted four marble headstones in the cemetery, which was once part of a large farm called Stanstead, the home of Charles Carter, who died in 1764.
Historical records show that seven tombstones once stood at the site. At some point before Dodd’s visit in 2008, three headstones had been removed from the property. They ended up about 65 miles away.
“Two of the returned stones were found in Richmond by an archaeologist who was working on a property there,” Dodd said.
About 18 months ago, Richmond officials returned those two stones to Amelung, general manager of Manheim Fredericksburg.
“The third stone – Lucy – was found in the backyard of a house in Richmond,” Dodd said. “Because there was Stafford County on the stone, they gave it to the Stafford Historical Society.”
Dodd was unaware at the time that the other two headstones had already been returned to Amelung, but contacted him to have Lucy’s stone returned to its original burial place.
“He was very willing to do something,” Dodd said.
Amelung said the return of the three headstones to the family cemetery motivated him to do something meaningful.
“I think it’s our responsibility as landowners,” Amelung said. “My decision was, if we’re going to do this, I’d like to make it a community type event.”
Dodd said a county ordinance requires real estate developers to maintain cemeteries on their property. They must also create a 35 foot fenced buffer zone around the cemetery. Amelong saw the restoration of the cemetery as an opportunity to help someone earn the Boy Scouts’ highest honor.
He contacted Jeff Best, a business partner and friend who lives in Chantilly. Amelung asked Best how his 17-year-old son, Nate, is progressing with his Eagle project.
“And he said, it’s funny you say that, he’s looking for one now,” Amelung said.
Amelung gave Nate, a senior from Chantilly High School, the opportunity to restore the cemetery as part of an Eagle project. He said he also did so for the benefit of historians, relatives or others seeking information about the old family cemetery.
Amelung said Manheim Fredericksburg invested nearly $12,000 in the effort, which included professional restoration of damaged stones and a large wooden sign on the cemetery property.
“I wanted to honor the cemetery by making the right kind of sign,” Amelung said. “It’s about the (Stafford) historical society and what they’re doing in the community, and it’s about Nathan Best.”
Best said he pitched the idea of restoring the cemetery as an Eagle project to Troop 695’s Eagle coach nearly nine months ago. In May, he said about 30 volunteers came to the cemetery to lend a hand.
“I wanted to clean it up, restore it, and make the cemetery prettier,” Best said. “Keep a bit of history.
With the project nearing completion, Best said the trip came with some memorable moments along the way.
“Right as we were on the home stretch of the schedule, it started to rain,” Best said. “It’s much harder to move dirt when it’s wet.”
Chris Witman, a conservator who works for Habalis Construction of Fredericksburg, said his company takes historic sites — usually buildings — and restores them to their original condition. He said his company had been contacted by historians in Stafford to restore the headstones in Ennever-Lucas Cemetery.
“A lot of them broke over time due to various issues,” Witman said. “Some we found broken and buried in the ground so we had to dig a bit to see where the stone would be to dig up the base.”
Witman said he only used lime mortar, water and a few basic hand tools to do the delicate work of rebuilding each damaged headstone.
“You have to care about that,” Witman said. “You just try to keep it as best you can.”
The cemetery is slightly elevated from the surrounding parking lot and sits on 263 acres of former land. The property was owned by Charles Carter, the son of colonial Virginia merchant, planter, and politician Robert “King” Carter.
MacGregor said Carter “bought up a lot of the real estate” between Falmouth and the Fauquier county line along the Rappahannock River. In the mid-1700s James Hunter, who owned Hunter’s Iron Works on the Rappahannock, bought Stanstead after Carter moved to a plantation called Cleve in King George County.
Hunter’s Stafford forges supplied the Continental Army and Navy with muskets, swords, and other camp armaments and tools. A historic sign commemorating the old foundry can be found at Olde Forge Drive.
“Stafford’s forge was arguably the largest multi-faceted manufacturing plant in colonial America, and it was a major producer of firearms during the American Revolution,” MacGregor said.
The foundry also produced everyday items, such as hinges, bridle bits, curry combs, kitchen utensils, mobile forges, and the $10 “Farmer’s Friend” one-horse plow, which, according to an 1853 advertisement, “had our new and particular tilted standard”. , entirely preventing it from choking and greatly decreasing the draft.
Although Hunter owned the land at Stanstead, he chose to stay in a house near the Chatham Bridge, where he could easily oversee the operations at the forge. After his death in 1784, Hunter’s nephew sailed to America from Scotland and, according to MacGregor, “continued to run the foundry as best he could” until his death in 1805. At this time There, MacGregor said the court had appointed commissioners to divide the Hunter estate. and sell it at auction. Meanwhile, Joseph Ennever, who had been a blacksmith clerk and is buried in the cemetery, purchased the part of Stanstead which included the farmhouse and cemetery.
“So the cemetery there is called the Ennever-Lucas family cemetery because Joseph Ennever’s daughter married Albert Lucas, who was a boy from Stafford-Fredericksburg,” MacGregor said. “So it’s Joseph Ennever, his wife Lucy Latham Ennever, then Albert G. Lucas their son-in-law, Lucy Ennever Luca their daughter, then two others.”
“(Amelung) didn’t have to do that. He could have been left there,” MacGregor said. “It was a great team effort.”
Although the cemetery is not open to the public, Amelung said relatives of those buried there, historians or students interested in the cemetery should call 540/368-3500 to access and be accompanied to the site.