Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Watts Graveyard at Oaklands, part 3 (conclusion)

            My two previous posts explain the history of the Oaklands cemetery, and describe the grave markers for the male line of the Watts family who lived at Oaklands and were buried on the estate. This final installment describes the graves of the families of Edward Watts’s daughters Letitia (Watts) Sorrel and Emma (Watts) Carr, and the graves of those who were not members of the immediate family.
            Both husbands of Letitia Watts were buried at Oaklands. Both were surgeons who served with the Confederate army. Landon Cabell Rives was born in 1827 and came from Cincinnati, Ohio, where his father was also a doctor. He died early in the Civil War. Francis Sorrel, of French descent, was born in Savannah, Georgia, and led an adventurous life; he went to California in the Gold Rush, but returned to the East when the Civil War broke out.

In memory of Landon Rives Jr. / Surgeon C.S.A. / Died / in Richmond. Va. / March 18, 1862 / Aged / 35 years (no photo available)

Francis Sorrel, M. D. / July 27, 1827 / June 30, 1916 [This stone replaced a table monument, which bore the following inscription.] Sacred / to the memory of / Francis Sorrel, A.M., M.D. / (formerly of Savannah, Ga.) / Graduate of Princeton Univ. / Class 1846 / of the Md. Dept. Univ. Penn. 1848  / Asst. Surg. U. S. Army 49 / Member California Legislature / 60 - 61 / and Surg. C. S. A. and Medical / Director at Richmond, Va. General / Hospital East of the Mississippi / 61 - 65 / Born July 27, 1827 - Died June 30, 1916.

            Emma (Watts) Carr’s husband, George Watson Carr, remarried after his first wife’s death to a woman the Watts family disapproved of, but he continued to live in Roanoke, and he was buried with Emma at Oaklands. Four of his children with Emma were also buried there: Ann Holcombe Carr, Alice Robertson Carr, Maria Dabney Carr, and William Watts Carr. William Watts Carr’s widow, Madge (MacDougall) Carr, was cremated and her ashes interred beside her husband’s grave. She was the last person whose remains were buried at Oaklands.

Col. George Watson / Carr / June 7, 1822 / Apr. 19, 1899

Anne Holcombe Carr / Daughter of / George & Emma / Watts Carr / Born / Mar. 20, 1870 / Died / Jan. 7, 1873

Alice Robertson / daughter of / George W. & Emma / Watts Carr / Born / Feb. 20. 1866 / Died / Jan. 29, 1883

Maria Dabney / Carr / Beloved wife of / J.H. Skinker / Born / Sept. 21, 1861 / Died / Mar. 23, 1887 / So He giveth His beloved sleep

William Watts / Carr / Dec. 11, 1867 / Oct. 22, 1930

Madge MacDougall / Carr / Jan. 25, 1870 / July 9, 1963 / Beloved wife of William Watts Carr

            Finally, there were three burials at the Oaklands cemetery of people who were not family members. Only the name is known of Katherine Turpin, who was a governess at Oaklands. Her grave was originally marked by a boxwood, but a marker was carved for her in 1977. Clement Read was a neighbor and friend; his grave was marked by fieldstones with no inscription. His family bought Monterey and established their own cemetery on that estate, so no new stone was made for him. Jean Gamble Robertson was distantly kin to the Wattses, but the families were closer than the kinship would suggest. Jean’s father, William Gordon Robertson, was a stepson of Alice (Watts) Robertson, as a son of William Joseph Robertson by his first marriage to Hannah Gordon. William Gordon became a good friend and law partner of his step-cousin, J. Allen Watts; he lived in Roanoke, and married Anne Anthony "Nannie" Breckinridge, who was a second cousin of J. Allen Watts. Their little girl, Jean, died in a tragic accident, when her clothing caught fire on her father's 39th birthday.

Katherine Turpin / governess at Oaklands / died ca. 1847

Jean Gamble / daughter of / W.G. & Nannie B. / Robertson / Born / Jan. 23, 1891 / Died / Feb. 12, 1895

            My mother became so interested in preserving old cemeteries while working on the transfer of the Oaklands graves, that she helped produce a book, Roanoke County Graveyards Through 1920. It can still be bought from the Historical Society of Western Virginia. As the Watts graveyard illustrates, economic progress and human change are not the only enemies of old cemeteries; weather, weeds, the passing of caretakers, and the general ravages of time all take a toll. The old itself once replaced the even older. Even though the land may be doomed to redevelopment, much of the history can be saved if the sites are photographed and the inscriptions recorded. It’s a rewarding way to do family history, and better for the heart and lungs than sitting in front of the computer. I will discuss some other cemeteries in later posts.

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