Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Original Homestead

My mom was born and raised in northern Virginia. She moved to Indiana in the early '70's when she was married. I spent summers there on my grandparents farm. We still have family there and our roots run deep.  

Growing up I had heard my mom mention a family cemetery.  It was rumored to be on the property across the street from where she grew up.  She had never seen it.  For one she was a kid and by the 1950's the property was no longer in the family.  

Fast forward and the land is now in the hands of a developer.  The cemetery was discovered but no one knew who was buried there.  A public meeting was held and I guess it became a little heated.  Some digging was done after the meeting and one day my mom received a call asking if she was familiar with this cemetery.  

After tons of research and phone calls it was determined that it was in fact the Donohoe family cemetery.  On our way back from the beach the developer meet us at the property and we were able to explore.
When we pulled up we saw this house.  Here is the history of original property owner.  His name was Cornelius Donohoe and he immigrated from Ireland in 1745.  He is my 9th great grandfather.  He ended up in what is now Virginia and purchased 61 acres from Lord Fairfax in 1757.  He live here with his wife, Maggie, and their children. 

The original part of the house was built of stone and was added on to in the 1800's.  Considering the age of house and the fact that no one has lived here since the 1960's the house in remarkable shape.  We were able to go inside.  The view below is a peek into the original house.   
After peeking inside we walked around to the back and that is where we saw the original stone house. The first floor was dug down several feet and then there was a second story.  The wood section above the stone is not part of the original house. 
I was fascinated by this window and door way.  I can imagine my grandparents going in and out of the door and looking out the window to view the falling rain or snow. It's surreal to walk the same ground as my first ancestors in America and touch the door way that I know they used. 
The views were incredible.  Can you imagine looking out the window and seeing this every morning?  Beautiful! 
Not far from the door way was the spring house.  The sight of this thrilled me!
I am an avid reader of historical fiction.  One thing mentioned in almost every book is the spring house. Not only did I get to see a spring house, but the one Maggie would have used to store things from her family. Wow!!
Several barns were still on property.  Chuck was able to salvage some wood to bring home. 
After we explored the homestead we headed over to the cemetery.  I'm super grateful that it was discovered.  It would be easy for it to be missed.  Especially if the developer had come through with large equipment to clear the land.  
An archaeology firm has been out and confirmed there are nine graves.  The one below is the headstone of my 9th great grandfather, Cornelius Donohoe. 
We drove in late morning and were back on the road by late afternoon.  On the way out of town we made a stop to visit my grandparents. 
Right next to them is my great grandparents and great aunt.  
I can't even put into words how incredible it was to be able to walk the land of my family and see where they were buried.  To know exactly where your family settled and be able to walk on that land is something most people will never get to experience.  I love family history and being able to make this trip and see where it all began is life changing.  I'm grateful I was able to do this.  

As a family we have decided to ask for the cemetery to be moved.  I know that this is something that makes people uncomfortable.  It is something that hasn't been taken lightly.  At first we all said it should stay.  We have thought about it, prayed about it and talked and talked about this decision.  We knew that big changes were coming to the land and my thought was that we didn't want this area to be the only green space in a concrete jungle.  We all have seen those.  People zoom by and pay no respect and many times they are only the green space in an area and it becomes the area to hang out and smoke.  That is not respectful to my late family.  

The court will make the final decision and if granted we are asking the developer to move our family to same cemetery where my grandparents, great grandparents and many other Donohoe family members are buried.  A final resting place that we know will not be sold for development and there will never again be the question what to do with their final resting place.  

After visiting the site and seeing how the area is growing I feel peace with this decision.  Thanks for sharing this incredible journey with me. 

May your day be filled with joy in the journey!


  1. Amazing story about your family. I love reading about family history. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. I love this!! I want to go inside every old abandoned house that I see. Those were incredible homes, I love the stonework. I'm happy for you to get to tour and walk the land of your family's history. I think moving the cemetery will be prove to be the right thing, too. Treasure your photo's and history!

  3. This is amazing and what a beautiful place! I loved reading about it. My dad has been telling me about where my Grandma was born and raised and where many of the ancestors are buried. I now want to make a trip to Oklahoma and Kansas.

  4. Amazing story. So glad you got to go before it all changes.

  5. Great story who owns the land now?

    1. A developer. Looks like it might be the new home of office buildings.

  6. That is amazing! Such wonderful history to be able to pass down.

  7. Wow! What an incredible story, to be able to walk in your ancestor's footsteps and see the home they lived in!! Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

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