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Surry in Surry County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

A Final Resting Place for Six Unknown Colonists

 
 
A Final Resting Place for Six Unknown Colonists Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, August 28, 2022
1. A Final Resting Place for Six Unknown Colonists Marker
Inscription.  Between 2016 and 2018, archaeol ogists of the James River Institute for Archaeology, Inc. (JRIA) conducted archaeological investigations at a nearby property on behalf of Dominion Energy Virginia. One of the archaeological sites (designated 44SY0274) which was excavated represented the remains of a small farmstead occupied roughly between 1680 and 1720. At that time, the property was owned by London merchant John Bland and his wife, Sarah, who leased it to tenant tobacco planters.

The site included the remains of a small post-in-ground (or “earthfast”) dwelling—the type of modest house most colonial Virginians called home—surrounded by a handful of refuse pits. Nearby, JRIA archaeologists also uncovered six graves.The shafts were aligned in the traditional Christian east-west orientation and were situated close to one another within an area about 20 feet square. The individuals were buried in related pairs, spaced only 2-3 feet apart. Based on the size of the grave features, they appeared to include four adults, one younger child, and one infant.

After obtaining the necessary permit from the Department of Historic Resources,
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JRIA archaeologists excavated the graves and recovered the surviving remains for reburial. All of the individuals had been buried in wooded coffins.

Unfortunately, the skeletal remains were in poor condition, and in most cases were so decomposed that it was necessary to collect them along with the surrounding soils.

The surviving remains were examined by Dr. Douglas Owsley, Curator and Division Head for Physical Anthropology at the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution. While the bone was too deteriorated to reveal much information, analysis of the teeth found in two of the graves suggested that both individuals were of European ancestry and born in the Chesapeake region. One was about 4-6 years old, while the other (possibly female) was between 15 and 20. The child’s teeth showed evidence of either illness or malnutrition. Most likely, the graves belonged to members of one of the tenant families living on the Blands’ Lawnes’ Creek plantation. Sadly, their names will never be known.

On Monday, September 30, 2019, the remains of the six unknown colonists were reinterred here in the cemetery with the assistance of the Bacon’s Castle Memorial Association. R.W. Baker & Company, Wakefield Chapel, facilitated the reburial; A graveside service was performed by Rev. Garry Livermon of the Virginia United Methodist Church, and
A Final Resting Place for Six Unknown Colonists Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, August 28, 2022
2. A Final Resting Place for Six Unknown Colonists Marker
was attended by representatives and guests of Bacon’s Castle Memorial Association, Dominion Energy Virginia, the Department of Historic Resources, Preservation Virginia, Schnabel Engineering, and JRIA.

(Captions)
Coffin nails recovered during excavation.
Scale drawing by JRIA archaeologists recording the placement of the six graves within the burial ground.
JRIA archaeologist Tamara Eichelberger point-mapping coffin nails.
Photograph of burial showing the bone fragments and soil staining which shows the shadows of legs.
Overview (looking east) of the small post-in-ground dwelling associated with the burial ground.
Hexagonal-shaped gray soil staining left by the wooden coffin of a burial.
Iron coffin strap recovered from Feature 33.
An assortment of iron coffin nails recovered from the burials.
JRIA Laboratory staff prepare human remains and grave soil for reburial.
Photograph showing several burials before excavation.
Drawing showing the human bone and coffin staining uncovered in excavation.

 
Erected by Department of Historic Resources.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Anthropology & ArchaeologyCemeteries & Burial SitesColonial EraSettlements & Settlers.
 
Location.
Six Unknown Colonists head stone image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brandon D Cross, August 28, 2022
3. Six Unknown Colonists head stone
37° 6.529′ N, 76° 44.169′ W. Marker is in Surry, Virginia, in Surry County. Marker can be reached from Colonial Trail East (Virginia Route 10) 0.4 miles west of Bacons Castle Trail (Virginia Route 617), on the right when traveling east. Marker located adjacent to the Old Brick Church Cemetery. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 6425 Colonial Trail E, Surry VA 23883, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Lower Surry Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Hog Island (approx. 0.4 miles away); Bacon’s Castle (approx. half a mile away); Quiyoughcohannock Indians (approx. half a mile away); Lawne’s Creek Church (approx. 1.3 miles away); Poole’s Funeral Home (approx. 2.3 miles away); Working the Land (approx. 2.6 miles away); Captain John Smith’s Adventures on the James (approx. 2.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Surry.
 
Also see . . .  Six gravesites found near Bacon’s Castle. (Submitted on September 16, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 18, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 16, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. This page has been viewed 227 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 16, 2022, by Brandon D Cross of Flagler Beach, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 24, 2024