Cemetery Dig:

Locating the Cemetery

Reports of the existence of a cemetery adjacent to the Elk Run Church Site prompted the Preservation Committee’s interest, although nophysical evidence was available to support these claims. Guided by the premise that a fine, brick, colonial church would possess an attached burying ground, deed research and interviews with local residents were undertaken. A deed and survey of adjacent property filed on September 15, 1942, in the Fauquier County Courthouse cited the adjacency of “the old cemetery lot” and added documentation and credibility to the premise.

On August 23, 2000, the Elk Run Church Site Preservation Committee received permission from William and Jacqueline Patton to search for the Church Cemetery on their adjoining property.

On December 9, 2000, search for the suspected adjacent Church Cemetery began by using a backhoe with a smooth blade to dig shallow parallel trenches to expose possible graves. The results of this process yielded about five “spots” where the soil changed, indicating possible burials. After careful penetration of one of the most likely “spots”, a burial was indeed discovered. The grave site and skeletal remains were facing east in the manner of Anglican burials during the 18th century. The find was duly recorded, registered and claimed as a burial.

The following spring and summer months, 2001, were filled with multiple testing methodologies to further assist in locating possible burials.

In June, July and August 2001, the Elk Run Church Site Committee used 21st Century remote sensor technology to non-intrusively sense objects or structural features beneath the ground surface. Petrone & Associates were successful in conducting remote sensing that helped define church cemetery boundaries, possible positions of burials within the cemetery, and areas that might have further archaeological significance.

Further testing will explore the interior of the Church Site and areas close to the outer “wings” or walls of the foundation. The Reverend James Keith, first minister of Hamilton Parish, is allegedly buried beneath the altar of the church, although no evidence has been found thus far. Still, exploration of the site will take place. There are also possibilities of other “finds”.


Are Your Ancestors Buried at Elk Run?

It is now a necessary task to thoroughly investigate who may have been buried in the Elk Run Church cemetery during the approximate years of 1745 to 1816 or earlier. It can be accurately assumed that only the more privileged or wealthier families were entitled to this final resting place in the very early days – the less affluent probably buried within their own land boundaries.

The list that follows presents the names of the men who are presumed to be members of the first vestry of Hamilton Parish, 1748/9, (although there is no primary evidence to support all the names listed).[ See Genealogy for more names in the 1751 Prince William Co. Tithable List]

  • John Bell
  • William Blackwell
  • Benjamin Bullitt
  • John Copedge
  • John Crump
  • William Ellzey
  • William Eustace
  • John Frogg
  • Joseph Hudnall
  • William Rousau
  • Timothy Thornton
  • John Wright

Others mentioned in the Prince William County Court Records:

  • Bradford
  • Churchill
  • Darnall
  • Eldridge
  • George
  • Gilson
  • Lewis
  • Young

The list of vestrymen for Hamilton Parish in 1757 consisted of the following:

  • Joseph Blackwell
  • Elias Edmonds
  • George Nevill
  • William Blackwell
  • Richard Hampton
  • Wharton Randsdell
  • Benjamin Bullitt
  • Joseph Hudnall
  • William Rousau
  • George Crump
  • John James
  • John Wright

Co-existing in Hamilton Parish along with the Elk Run Church was St. Mary’s Church (better known as the Turkey Run Church) located about 1.25 miles south of what was to become Warrenton in 1816. This church was built in the 1750s (abandoned about 1816) to accommodate the growing crossroads settlement and the ministers of Hamilton Parish were obliged to serve both churches. Old documentation discovered during the 20th century has revealed 81 known burials in the Turkey Run church cemetery. Many of the communicants from Elk Run Church had moved North by that time and they and their future generations are likely to have been buried at Turkey Run instead of Elk Run.

Are you descended from any of the gentlemen on the lists, or any other individuals known to have lived and died in Hamilton Parish, 1745-1816 or earlier?

Do you know whether they were buried either at Elk Run or at Turkey Run?

Do you possess records, Bibles, letters, deeds or genealogies that could furnish even a hint about their final resting-places?

We want to hear from you!

Please contact Mrs. Jackie Lee, Committee Historian at (540) 347-5525.