1309 S. Monroe St.
Historic Designation: Local Historic District, Feb. 10, 1990
Current Use of Property: Graveyard
The Travers Family Graveyard is part of Arlington’s early history and is associated with one of its pioneer families. It’s a 25-by-45 foot historic burial ground, with the oldest grave marker dating to 1830. The Travers family and their heirs occupied various portions of this 30-acre property for nearly a century.
Family graveyards date back to the earliest settlements in the New World, when towns were widely dispersed and family homesteads were located great distances from churches. They were the primary burial practice in rural Virginia until the late 19th century. However, few of these graveyards survived urban development. The Travers cemetery plot was used for about 100 years, surviving from the 1830s throughout Arlington’s history and urbanization.
In 1975, the Travers Family Graveyard was identified as one of 18 burial grounds in the county by the Arlington Historical Commission. Others included: Walker Chapel/Cemetery, Ball-Carlin Cemetery and Lomax AME Zion Church Cemetery.
A total of 28 stone grave markers have been identified in the Travers Family Graveyard, as the head and footstones marking 17 graves. The markers include professionally cut marble gravestones as well as folk product stones and fieldstones. Some contain religious or biblical inscriptions. It’s likely that more than 17 burials took place here as traditions in family burial grounds often involved placement of wooden grave markers, which were easily dislodged or deteriorated over time. Sometimes graves were left unmarked due to the cost of permanent stone markers.
Arlington was dramatically affected by the Civil War, as property and possessions were confiscated from residents throughout the area. Although the nearby property belonging to Sewell Corbett was seized to build Fort Berry in 1863, there’s no indication that Civil War soldiers were buried in the Travers Family Graveyard. The only known use of the cemetery during the war was as a food preparation area. It is believed to have been adjacent to the fort’s mess tent.
The earliest graves in the cemetery are for “M.E.T” (1830) and “W.T” (1832), presumably children of John and Elizabeth. Descendants of the Travers family believed to be buried in the graveyard include John and Elizabeth Travers, their children Henry, Rebecca, John W., grandson John L., and great-grandchildren Pearl, Mary, James, Anna and Adie Louise.
John and Elizabeth Travers settled in the area as early as 1832, the year that John paid $200 for a 30-acre parcel of land at the intersection of what would become Columbia Pike and Glebe Street. Travers may have been attracted to the area by the communication opportunities offered by the Columbia Turnpike, which was completed in 1812. They had five children: Eliza Ann, John L., Rebecca, Henry W. and Mary Ann. The Travers family of five was counted among Arlington’s sparse rural population of 1,332 persons in the 1840 Census.
In 1837, John Travers died at the age of 34, and was buried in the cemetery. Within a year, Elizabeth married 26-year-old William P. Taylor (1813-1866), a farmer who was nine years her junior.
In 1851, the property was subdivided into six lots for Elizabeth and her children. The lot containing the cemetery was allotted to the youngest, Mary Ann Travers. Six years later, after she married John W. Clement, Mary Ann sold the four-and-one-half-acre property to her brother Henry W. Travers. According to Census records, Henry was a laborer by profession and his wife Anna’s occupation was “keeping house.” In 1870, Henry’s real estate was appraised at $2,000, a substantial sum at the time.
Henry died at the age of 51 and was buried in the cemetery. He bequeathed his entire estate to Anna. By 1900, the property containing the cemetery was conveyed to the Seymour H. Henson family. Seymour Henson and his siblings subdivided the property into eight lots. In 1924, they sold the cemetery lot to Herbert A. Cleveland in 1924, who in turn sold it to Harry C. Morgan, who sold it to William J. and Carrie M. Stuart in 1945.