Cemetery Daily Report
    by Tabitha Sabky


Garth-Braham Cemetery Visit

July 14, 2017

Today our class embarked on a trip to the Garth Cemetery, located on the opposite side of the Birdwood golf course from the Birdwood Pavilion. We had the pleasure of being accompanied by anthropologist Lynn Rainsville who, replete with knowledge about Virginian cemeteries, helped our class to frame a broader understanding of the history and development of the entire Birdwood proper. Relieved to not have been forced to march the distance through the humidity and insects, our group ventured off in a fleet of golf carts. The cemetery consisted of four headstones enclosed in a stone wall, with two more headstones located just outside. Buried here were William Garth, his wife Elizabeth Lucy Wood, their daughter Meriel Thomas, and a relative, Lucy Lewis.

Our trip to the cemetery was prefaced by questions regarding the larger scope of the Birdwood property and the development of its cultural landscape. Lynn began the session by posing this question- If it were customary for cemeteries to be located near a house, then why were some of the Garths buried in a plot that was far removed from the Birdwood mansion? Lynn acknowledged that there was a wooden farm house from the late 18th century in close proximity to the cemetery. She hypothesized that this structure may have been the original house of the Garth family and therefore the cemetery predated the mansion and that William Garth was merely buried in the already existing family plot. Lynn also thought that this may have been the first house of William Garth on the property decided then to build Birdwood pavilion after inheriting the money and land from his brother. She went on to make the additional point that this was a cemetery for the family and that the cemeteries for the enslaved populations had yet to be found on the property.  The information needed to solve this would depend on the discovery of the the enslaved landscapes.

After Lynn Rainsville departed into the wood, our class spent the remainder of the time walking the paths of the Birdwood property to see if we could find any other markings and signs of property lines or structures. One of the issues that this project faces is the considerable overgrowth of flora on the once cleared farmland. This growth obscures much of the original settlement and causes difficulty in locating and studying any other structures, foundations or plantation life that still exists on the property today.


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