Walking Tour: Daughters of Zion Cemetery

    Stop 1: Hattie and Annie Buckner (gravestone #168)

    The stone reads: "Children of E.T. and L.E. Buckner" / Annie, Born Dec 1, 1867 / Died Apr. 3, 1873 / Hattie, Born Aug. 4, 1879 / Died July 25, 1881

    Although the stone does not explicitly list the age at death, the two girls died at age 6 and 2, respectively. Annie's date of death is the earliest in the cemetery, suggesting that this is the earliest stone. The other, more likely, possibility is that the stone was not erected until Hattie died in 1881 (it would have been difficult to carve the additional lines if the stone was already set in place). If this hypothesis is true, it would no longer be the first stone, but it is still one of the earliest stones erected in the cemetery. Today it is precariously placed at the edge of the cemetery, just before the ground slopes down to Oak street. Other Buckner family members are buried alongside these two girls.


    Stop 2: Coles Family Plot and the William Coles Stones (Gravestone #169-173)

    William Coles Gravestone

    1) "COLES / William A. Coles / SON OF / Addie Golden Coles / Feb 12, 1891 / Oct 5, 1947 / Erected by Ella Smith"

    William Coles Gravestone

    2) "William A. Coles / Died / October 6, 1947 / [Erected by] Friend Bea. Gaines"

    Both stones are made of marble, but one stands vertically and the other is flush with the ground. Stone 173 lies opposite and to the east of stone 170.

    It is possible that the two women mentioned on the markers (Ella Smith and Bea. Gaines) split the cost of the head and the footstone, with stone 173 representing the latter. Conversely, each woman wanted to show their respects separately. It is interesting that William is listed as the son of Addie Golden Coles but no father is listed. Moreover, it would appear as if William, who died at age 56, was not married, raising questions as to who the two women were who paid for separate monuments.

    Coles/Golden Plot

    Coles/Golden Plot to the West (William's second stone is on the left, flat on the ground)

    Coles/Golden Plot to the East

    Coles/Golden Plot to the East

    Addie Golden Coles and daughter gravestone

    Matriarch Addie Golden Coles & her Daughter, Hattie L. Montague

    Other Stones in the Coles/Golden Plot

    This plot is also interesting because it is dominated by relations among women. On either side of William are his mother (Addie, stone #172) and his aunt (Lula Jean, stone #169). Neither woman lists a husband (Lula was probably single at her death because she retains her maiden name, Golden). It is somewhat unusual for an adult male (William) to be listed as the "son of" his mother (especially leaving out the father's name). Similarly, although it appears that Addie's daughter, Hattie, was married (to Mr. Montague), the husband's name is not listed for either woman. Moreover, both of the people who erected monuments to William were women. And finally, the stone between William and Addie & Hattie (stone #171) commemorates another woman, Jenetta Dabney (died 1891). At present the relationship between Ms. Dabney and the Golden/Coles family is unclear.


    Stop 3: Delia and Phillip J. Johnston (gravestone # 162 and 163)

    Delia Johnston headstone

    Delia Johnston (1785-1895) Delia's stone reads: "Delia Johnston / wife of / Phillip Johnston / Born / Jun. 15, 1795 / Died / Nov. 23, 1895

    Phillip Johnston headstone

    Phillip Johnston (1813-1878) Phillip's stone reads: "Phillip Johnston / Died / May 7, 1868 / Aged 65 years

    Johnston gravestones

    The Johnston's graves are set apart from nearby stones and suggest that none of their kinfolk are buried here.

    In contrast to the blocky granite and marble markers seen at the last stop (stop 2), these tablet-style, marble markers represent an earlier tradition. Phillip's stone is one of the earliest in the cemetery. These two, roughly identical, markers represent a classic 19th Century pattern: tabular, curved markers with few or no symbols and husbands and wives buried alongside each other, very often with the woman listed as the "wife of." Note, Delia was a centenarian and was born in the 18th Century. Delia was 18 years older than Phillip, raising the possibility that this was her second husband (possibly she outlived the first, as well as the second one). It does not appear that any of their offspring (if there were any) or other kinfolk were buried in this cemetery. This raises an interesting question as to where their families were buried or, conversely, why they choose to be buried here.


    Stop 4: Coles Family Plot (gravestones # 142-144)

    Jane Coles headstone

    Stone 142 reads: "Jane Coles / Born / Mar. ... 1845 / Died Feb. .... 1887 / In Memory of a faithful.... "

    Jesse Coles headstone

    Stone 143 (accompanied by the sunken footstone, 144) reads: "Jesse Coles / Died ...1881 / Aged 60 years"

    Overview of Coles plot

    Overview of the Plot. The markers are arranged around the base of the tree.

    This plot, containing only two visible (or preserved) gravestones, is one of the more elaborate in the cemetery. The plot is raised above ground level and surrounded by a low, concrete wall. In addition, it is centrally positioned as one of the first plots if you enter the cemetery via the original entrance (referred to as the "alley" in historic documents). Although the kinship relationship between Jane and Jesse is, at present, uncertain, we do know that Jesse was born in 1821 while Jane was born in 1845 (suggesting that they were father/daughter). Jesse Coles was one of the original trustees of the cemetery. He is listed in several land deeds concerning the founding of the cemetery in 1873. This is, perhaps, the reason why he was able to select such an advantageous location within the cemetery.


    Stop 5: Allen Family Plot (gravestone #146-160)

    "A" marker for family plot

    As you visit this stop, notice the "A" set in a small square in the SW corner. This is not a gravestone, but rather a place marker for the family plot. Presumably there were once three additional markers in the other corners. This plots contains a range of gravestone styles, from blocky marble ones, to upright, blocky granite ones, to low-lying granite markers. The latter are a more recent marker style designed, in part, to create cemetery landscapes that resemble parks with less visually intrusive reminders of death.

    Fifteen individuals are buried within this plot (stone 160 is the footstone that accompanies stone 159, while stone 154 commemorates two people).

    Eva Allen marker

    The first burial was in 1902, for Eva Allen who died at age 2. Her young age at death explains the small size of her marker. A flower vase lies in front of her marker.

    Clarence E. Allen marker

    The marker next to Eva commemorates Clarence E. Allen who died in 1930. Clarence served in World War I as a Private, 1st class, in the 510 Virginia Engineers.The cross above his name is a popular symbol on vetran's graves (perhaps influenced by the practice at Arlington National Cemetery).

    John and Anna Allen gravestone

    In contrast to the above, individualized marble markers, John and Anna's gravestone is made of granite and two people share one stone. In an oft repeated style, the husband is listed first, followed by the wife, with an explicit reference to her social role as "his wife." In a 20thC modification of the "footstone" the initials of each person are listed on lower edge of the monument, suggesting that John lies to the left, while Anna ("A.S.A.") lies to the right. The disadvantage (especially for genealogists) to this type of commemoration is that it only lists the date of death, making it impossible to reconstruct the age or birth date of the deceased. Note that Anna outlived her husband by 23 years, an unfortunate, but fairly common occurrence in the first part of the 20th Century. The container in front of the grave is for flowers.

    Style of horizontal granite marker

    In contrast to the three upright markers discussed above, the rest of the stones in this plot are horizontal, granite markers. This is a popular 20thC style (discussed above).

    12 stones wiht floral motif

    All 12 of these stones are similar in shape and size and several contain a floral motif.

    Removable flower urn

    Most of the stones include a removeable urn for flowers. These urns can be unscrewed and turned upside down when not in use (and for ease of mowing).


    Stop 6: Unmarked Crypt

    Crypt on the right hand side of the alley

    Crypt in the distance on the right-hand side of the "alley."

    Crypt in situ

    The crypt, on the left, in situ - note its location along the edge of the "alley."

    Brick barrel vault marker

    This marker is a brick barrel vault, covered with plaster. Unfortunately, the name of the deceased(s) is not visible on the outside of the marker. Originally a separate marker may have identified the deceased.

    Bricks underlying arch

    The underyling bricks that provide the arch that was then plastered.


    Stop 7: An interestingly carved stone (gravestone #92)

    Stones, including those of Louie Whitlock and Genevieve B. Henderson

    Stone #92 is in the foreground, the two readable stones in the background belong to Louie L. Whitlock (on right) and Genevieve B. Hendersen (on the left). At present the relationship between those two individuals is unclear. This may be a lot set aside for single burials (as opposed to larger, family plots).

    Stone with a hole.

    This stone has no legible inscription (although there are faintly carved letters on one side). Instead, there is a hole in the upper portion of the stone. This is either deliberate, or this stone was less expensive because it contained a defect.


    Stop 8: Goodloe and Wayland Family Plot (gravestone #70-85)

    Goodloe plot, facing west

    Goodloe plot (facing to the west). Originally, the fence would have stood on the left-hand side,with a gate (see below) in the middle.

    Plot fence

    Original plot fence, currently leaning against a corner of the plot.

    The Goodloe Family purchased four plots to make for a total of approximately 1600 square feet. The entire plot is surrounded by an iron fence (falling down in parts, but, originally, the gate would have linked the two front pieces). In a different pattern than most other plots in the cemetery, the Goodloe's choose squat, rectangular markers for each individual (similar in form to a footstone, but in this case, they serve as headstones). The standing granite marker reads "Goodloe" but does not list an individual. It would appear as if the upright marker commemorates the Family, while smaller stones commemorate each individual. Because these smaller stones do not contain biographical information (or last names) it is not possible to establish conclusively the relations among the deceased.

    Goodloe plot schematic

    Schematic of the Goodloe Family plot.


    Gravestones (from left to right): 83, 82, 81, and 80 (presumably Goodloes)

    Willie E. Goodloe's wife, J.F. Burley

    Stone 84, accompanied by footstone #85. Willie E. Goodloe married J. F. Burley and was given a different marker than her kinfolk. Her inscription reads "She was true to herself."

    Charles and Virginia stones

    Gravestone 79 and 69. "Charles" was placed facing the opposite direction (west) from everyone else in the plot. It is unclear whether this was placed intentionally by the family or if it was subsequently disturbed and replaced, mistakenly, upside-down.

    Gravestone, probably misplaced

    Gravestones (from left to right): 72, 73, 74, and 75 (Waylands).

    Gravestone, likely misplaced

    A gravestone, lying in the SE corner of the Goodloe plot but almost certainly misplaced.


    Gravestones (from left to right): 70, 71, 76, 77, and 78 (presumably Goodloes)


    Stop 9: Edmond Dyer (gravestone #50)

    Edmond Dyer

    Edmond Dyer (died 1885 at the age of 21). His inscription reads "Christ is my hope." It is would be interesting to know why he is buried by himself (there are no other Dyer's buried in this cemetery) and somewhat distant from other stones.

    Setting for Edmond Dyer stone

    The photograph illustrates the beautiful, arboral setting for this stone.


    Stop 10: Dr. Robert Leo Whittaker Stone (gravestone #56)

    Robert Leo Whittaker headstone.

    Robert Leo Whittaker was a medical doctor who died in 1918 at the age of 82. In other words, he was born three decades before emancipation but was able to earn an M.D. sometime in his 30s or 40s. His wife, Bettie James, erected the monument. His inscription is lengthy but illegible.


    Stop 11: Ragland, Walker, and Clayton Plots (gravestones #51-54, 58-60)

    Array of gravestones

    Gravestones (from L to R): 51, 52, 53, 54 [in two pieces], & 55 (in the back)

    Obelisk of G. Henry Ragland

    The fallen obelisk belongs to G. Henry Ragland (his first wife, Julia Flanagan, is buried two stones to his left). Mr. Ragland died in 1905 at the age of 57.

    Rosa Walker and J.H. Walker

    Rosa Walker (died 1918 at age 62) and (R) her husband, J.H. Walker (died 1891 at age 27). Rosa lived as a widow for 27 years. Rosa's marker was erected by Rosa E. Fagans (possibly a married daughter), while Mr. Walker's stone states that is was erected by "his wife." Rosa Walker's inscription reads "A tender mother and a faithful friend."


    Although the names of married daughters makes it somewhat confusing to, most of the stones in this area are relatives of G. Henry Ragland.


    Stop 12: Burkley and Mary Bullock (gravestones #44-47)

    Burkley and Mary Bullock's stones

    Looking west at Burkley and Mary Bullock's stones (and one fallen stone). Each headstone includes a related footstone (to the east of the headstones). One footstone contains the initials "I.B." but no stsanding headstone. This may be the grave of Israel Bullock (the son of Mary and Burkley).

    Burkley Bullock stone

    Burkley Bullock (1830-1908, age 78).

    Mary Bullock stone

    Mary A. Bullock (1838-1897, age 52).

    Both Burkley and his wife, Mary, were born into slavery. There gravestones are both carved from marble in a tabular form. Burkley's stone lacks any motif but Mary's contain a blooming flower (perhaps a rose). In the 19th C, flowers and buds are occasionally used to commemorate women or children.


    Stop 13: Tonsler Family Plot (gravestones #28-36)

    Tonsler plot

    Overview of the Tonsler Plot.

    Benjamin Tonsler stone

    Benjamin Tonsler (1854-1917) was the principal of Jefferson School from 1895 until his death in 1917. Tonsler was a graduate of the Hampton Institute and friend of Booker T. Washington. Nearby, Tonsler Park is named in his honor.

    Fannie Gildersleeve stone

    Benjamin Tonsler's wife, Fannie Gildersleeve, is buried under an adjacent stone. Her son, Compton E. Tonsler, is memorialized on the same stone. Compton's wife, Emma Heiskell, is buried under a stone to the north (see below).

    Plot organized around brothers Benjamin, Jerry and Horace

    The plot appears to be organized around three brothers: Benjamin, Jerry (see below), and Horace see below left).


    Here, husband and wife share a headstone. Only one footstone remains, for Pochaontas, simply labeled "mother."

    Emma Tonsler stone

    Emma Tonsler (1924-1947).

    Jerry Tonsler

    Jerry Tonsler (1855-1924).


    Stop 14: Geneva Tonsler (gravestone #14)

    Geneva Tonsler stone

    Geneva Tonsler (1886-1918) is not buried in the Tonsler Plot (see Tour 13) , but rather in the Buckner Plot (her husband's family). She was only 32 years old when she died. Her stone includes an interesting motif, a series of wings and a scroll. Also of interest is a second stone, lying underneath the marble marker. It is tempting to suggest that this lower stone was used as a place holder for the grave until (or possible before) the completion of the carved marker. There are several other examples of this practice in the cemetery.


    Stop 15: Coles / Lewis / Jones Family Plot (gravestones #116-122)

    Plot, mostly footstones

    All but two of the stones in this plot (121 and 122) are footstones indicating the placement of the individuals who are memorialized on the standing obelisk. Six people are identified on the obelisk. All but two have separate footstones with their initials. The two individuals who lack footstones (but who are commem- orated on the obelisk) are "the children of C.E. Coles," Maggie M. (1886-1888) and Maud D. (1892-1902). It is not clear where "C.E. Coles" is buried or who his wife was. In addition to members of the Coles and Lewis family, two members of the Jones' Family are buried here. Presumably Rosa's maiden name was Coles.

    Stone Footstone Inscription / Individual Buried (Date birth - Date death)
    116 "R.C." — Rebekah Coles (1875 - 1876)
    117 "J.C." — John L. Coles (1837-1905)
    118 "P.C." — Perciller Coles (1844-1912)
    120 "F.L." — Fountain Lewis (1818 - 1898)
    121 William H. Jones (1860-1917)
    122 Rosa Jones ( ? - 1929)
    Coles Obelisk

    The Coles Obelisk, commemorating Rebekah, John, Perciller, Fountain, Magie, and Maud.


    Stop 16: M.T. Lewis Plot (gravestone #139)

    M.T. Lewis stone

    M.T. Lewis was a very well known pastor at the Delevan Baptist Church. He died of "consumption" at the age of 40 in 1883. His marker is one of the most ornate in the cemetery and includes a variety of symbols.

    Four posts around grave

    The grave is surrounded by 4 posts, topped by urns

    Masonic symbol on back of  stone

    On the back of the stone is the masonic symbol, indicating Rev. Lewis' membership in the fraternal society.

    Cushion carved on top of marker

    The top of the marker is carved into the form of a cushion.


    Stop 17: Unpreserved Gravestones.

    View of location

    View of the location suggestion by the deed.

    In the background are two family plots, the one in the rear is the Coles/Lewis/Jones Plot, featured in Tour 15.

    Map of Plot This plot no longer contains any visible gravestones, but an early deed suggests that Tamar Wright and her heirs once owned the lot.

    In the Zion Cemetery Deed Book #10 the Clerk (S.J. Ferguson) recorded the purchase of a lot by Tamar Wright for $1.25 in 1899. The deed describes the lot as "a certain half section, on the south side of the Charlottesvilles Section in Church Hill Cemetery of the Daughters of Zion of said city, fronting 9 feet and running back 18 feet." The map pictured below demonstrates a hypothetical reconstruction of the division of plots based on this description and, presuming, that "whole" sections were roughly 18 x 20 feet (this is based on a second deed) and that when individuals were buried singlely, they were still placed within existing (albeit imaginary) boundaries.

    The estimated location of Tamar Wright's plot is indicated by the number "17."

    The lack of standing gravestones in this area may be due to several reasons: no markers were ever placed, the markers were made of wood or a similar material that did not preserve, or the markers have sunken into the ground and are just below the surface.


    Stop 18: Reverend Herndon and his infant daughter (gravestone # 105 and 106)

    Rev. Herndon stone

    The Reverend Herndon (1850-1889) was married to "C. Herndon" and died young, at age 39. In keeping with his profession, the reverend's stone contains a religious symbol: a hand holding a book (almost certainly meant to symbolize a bible).

    Hattie Herndon stone

    In contrast, his infant daughter's stone (Hattie, 1877-1878) is plain, with no symbol, and approximately half the size of her fathers. It is not clear where his wife (C. Herndon) is buried. Perhaps she remarried and is buried in another family's plot.


    Stop 19: Nancy and Artie Ward (gravestone # 109)

    Artie Ward monument

    Granite monument, Artie Ward (1875-1966) and Nancy Smith (1890-1946).

    This monument has a husband and wife, sharing a headstone. The floral motifs suggest a garden and/or the regeneration of life. The marker itself is also "naturalized" with a deliberately "hewn" look added to the otherwise smooth granite.

    Back of Artie Ward monument

    The back of the monument emphasizes a "natural" look as if this were a boulder.


    Stop 20: Duvall Plot (gravestones # 100 and 102)

    Emma Duvall stone

    Emma Duvall (1853-1904)

    Granville Duvall stone

    Granville Duvall (1850-1922)

    Granville was Emma's father. The fact that Emma is buried next to her father and there is no mention of a spouse, suggests that Emma died unmarried at age 50. Both of these markers are very blocky and, especially in the case of Emma, are designed to resemble "houses of thea dead." The association of graves with houses (or, often, beds) connotes eternal rest.


    Stop 21: Poison Ivy

    Poison Ivy tree


    Poison Ivy leaves

    The classic, three-pointed, waxy leaf.