“Gone But Not Forgotten”

My visit to Fannie's grave came nearly 88 years after her death.  Fannie died at the age of 87.

My visit to Fannie’s grave came nearly 88 years after her death. Fannie died at the age of 87.

Dear Ancestor

“Your tombstone stands among the rest

Neglected and alone.

The name and date are chiseled out

On Polished marble stone.

It reaches out to all who care

It is too late to morn.

You did not know I exist

You died and I was born.

Yet each of us are cells of you

In flesh and blood and bone.

Our blood contracts and beats a pulse

Entirely not our own.

Dear Ancestor, the place you filled

One hundred years ago.

Spreads out among the ones you left

Who would have loved you so.

I wonder how you lived and loved

I wonder if you knew.

That someday I would find this spot

And come to visit you.”

by  Walter Butler Palmer


Back in the early 1990s, Anthony M. (Tony) Lowe, a cousin of mine, had been working on our family history for about a decade.  As a result of this research, he put together a Jones Family reunion for the descendants of the five sons of Wilson and Margaret Elizabeth Delk Jones:  Abraham, Issac Newton, Jacob, Junius Wilson, and Josiah Benjamin.  During the reunion we were introduced to many facts about our family; some of which I knew and many I did not.  Around 1995 Tony documented the findings of his research in a book titled, Three Hundred Years in Eastern Virginia:  DESCENDANTS OF ARTHUR JONES (1630 – 1692).

I am a descendant of Abraham Jones, the eldest of the five brothers.  His wife was Fannie Elizabeth Hunnicutt.  As I sat in the fellowship hall of Smithfield Baptist during the evening dinner, I was amazed as I looked around the room and saw people that I had gone to school with or seen many times in Smithfield that I was not aware of our kinship.  It was also amazing to look at their faces and see the resemblance that many had with one another.  During the reunion, we visited family home places, graves, etc., and given some history about our family.  A ceremony, with a Confederate Honor Guard, held at the grave of Abraham Jones marked his grave as a Confederate Veteran.

A few years before the reunion I had found and visited Abraham’s grave.  There were other graves there marked, but I did not find the grave of his wife, Fannie Elizabeth.  In Tony’s book it stated that she was buried in Surry County Virginia in the Hunnicutt Family Cemetery located on the PG West farm on Route 10.

After years of wanting to find and visit my great-great-grandmother’s grave, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. G. P. West and ask about the graveyard.  He said he knew about the graveyard and would be glad to show it to me, but asked to wait until it got cooler and snakes would not be an issue. Finally, the day arrived!  Last Saturday, February 27, I received a call from Mr. West asking me if I would like to visit the grave.  I contacted my brother, C. David Jones, told him to get ready and I would take him with me. 

Saturday was one of those I can’t believe it’s a “February day!”  It was a sunny day with a very light breeze when we got there.  After some introductions and reminiscing we loaded into Mr. West’s new toy, what looked like a “souped-up” golf cart, and headed around the edge of the fields to the very back.  Adding to the delight of the day, we came across a large flock of wild turkeys.  I’m not sure who was the most surprised!  Finally, we stopped and made our way into the woods.  After stepping over an old rusty wire fence, we crossed what appeared to be an old road or path.

This is the old road that runs along side the cemetery.

This is the old road that runs alongside the cemetery.

Just along the path on the opposite side, we came upon the graveyard.  It sits on a high spot in the woods that gently slopes down to a stream.  Leaves, limbs, and some overgrowth from years of neglect cover the many sunken gravesites.  Located next to a tree with an orange plastic marker attached, we found the grave of Fannie E. Jones.


C. David Jones and Mr. P. G. West (with rake in hand) viewing Fannie E Jones's grave site. Mr. West had wisely marked the tree beside the grave with an orange marker.

C. David Jones and Mr. P. G. West (with rake in hand) viewing Fannie E Jones’s gravesite. Mr. West had wisely marked the tree beside the grave with an orange marker.

Fortunately for us, her grave had a headstone and a footstone.  There was evidence by the sunken earth of as many as a dozen or more graves there, but only Fannie’s had a marker.  I’m not saying other graves were not marked, but without disturbing the graves covered with leaves and dead limbs, it was not evident.  It was a very solemn moment as I stood there for the first time.  My mind was reminiscent of the poem “Dear Ancestor” that I read last June at a family reunion.  How appropriate were the words as I stood there looking over her grave.

This is how we found Fannie's grave when we arrived.

This is how we found Fannie’s grave when we arrived.

Fannie's Footstone

My visit to Fannie’s grave came nearly 88 years after her death. Fannie died at the age of 87.

It’s ironic, there is a familiar quote at the bottom of the stone that reads “Gone but not forgotten”.  There are many graveyards that once were in plain view of their loved ones left behind to remember them, but over time, families have moved away, woods have taken over, and they become lost treasures.  Fortunately through the efforts of those keeping family history alive we can truly say; they are “Gone but not forgotten”!


About Skeletons in the Closet

I'm the youngest of six with a boat load of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and two great-grandchildren. My love for family and friends, that have become like family, has inspired me start this blog. I'm a novice researcher of family history and my research has revealed some jewels of information as well as raised lots of unanswered question. I hope to share my journey into my family’s past, revealing the joys and frustrations that come with the process. I will also share my childhood memories of my family and growing up in my beloved hometown of Smithfield, Virginia.. Hopefully this will inspire you to take time to talk with older family members and learn from them what you can about your family.
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15 Responses to “Gone But Not Forgotten”

  1. Dianna says:

    Another great blog post, Donnie! So glad that Mr. West called you and was able to show you your great great grandmother’s resting place. You had the perfect day for the adventure. That poem is perfect.


    • Skeletons in the Closet says:

      Thanks Dianna! I read that poem during the memorial part of our last family reunion along with another one about identifying people in pictures. I really like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anne Harvey says:

    Good job Donnie. I appreciate the research that you are doing and enjoy hearing and reading about your findings.


  3. Shirley Matthews Dunn says:

    What a wonderful find for me, Donnie! I did not know you were doing a blog.. I enjoyed this one very much and look forward to following you blog. Keep up the good work.


    • Skeletons in the Closet says:

      Thanks Shirley. This is new for me, something I’ve been wanting to try. Glad you liked it. My first blog was last week titled, “Starting the Journey”


  4. Shirley Matthews Dunn says:

    What a nice surprise to find your blog, Donnie! Looking forward to following you. Keep up the good work.


  5. Shirley Matthews Dunn says:

    Sorry Donnie for two, I forgot how the blog comments work. I know now! Hope you are having a good day.


  6. Pingback: Random Five Friday | these days of mine

  7. Barb says:

    Very interesting post. I am Dianne’s youngest niece. I was wondering if we are distantly related through marriage and kinship through my Great-Aunt Doris. I believe she was a Hunnicutt. Dianne would know better than I.


  8. Judy Byrd says:

    Hey, that’s my great grandmother, Fannie Elizabeth Amna Hunnicutt Jones. I share that name that’s usually left out of her name. My grandmother was Margaret Elizabeth Amna Jones West.


  9. Judy Byrd says:

    Hey, this is my great grandmother, Fannie Elizabeth Amna Hunnicutt Jones. I’m named after that part of her name that’s usually left out. My grandmother was Margaret Elizabeth Amna Jones West, Aunt Lizzie. They called Fannie ‘Aunt Puss’. I know not why.


    • Skeletons in the Closet says:

      Hey Judy, my name is Donnie Jones. If you are who I think you are, we used to see each other at the old ball field at Smithfield High School in the summer time at softball games. You had a brother named Joe. I lived on Cary street, behind the school. I also worked with your husband Joe at the naval shipyard.

      Thanks for reading my post, I’m looking forward to working on this project. Now was Fannie your great grand-mother or great, great-grandmother? She,s my great-great grandmother.

      Again thanks for reading!


      • Judy Byrd says:

        She was our great grandmother. Grandma West was an old maid who didn’t marry until her forties so all of our relatives on both sides are a generation ahead of us. As for the ball games, you are probably thinking of my sister, Susan, but I am the one who’s married to the Joe Byrd that you worked with in the Navy yard.


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