News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Possible Reston Development Site Possibly Home to Possible Slave Cemetery

Remember how the Fairfax Hunt Club issued a request to rezone its property at the edge of Reston for residential development as part of Phase 2 of the Reston Master Plan? Yeah, that was awesome. Turns out the property is already home to some residents who have been there for quite some time. Give us some good blockquote, Fairfax Times "news paper":

Some members of Reston’s Hunt Club cluster are concerned for the future of what might potentially be a cemetery containing the graves of five former slaves who lived in Fairfax County prior to the Civil War.

The small family cemetery is located on the Fairfax County Hunt Club property.
Apparently the property contains "one field stone and five plus grave depressions under an oak tree about three feet in diameter.” Research done by a resident of the adjoining Hunt Club cluster, Heather Greenfield, suggests that the property once belonged to a woman named Mildred Johnson, "who also had a school house on her property."
According to Fairfax County tax records and Post-Civil War Southern Claims application submissions, Mildred H. Johnson owned property listed as “100 acres 3 miles SE of Dranesville” and that property was listed as containing a schoolhouse. “I’ve been able to look up burial records for Mildred Johnson and her children, and they were buried mostly in Browns Chapel. Johnson had five slaves according to the 1860 slave census, and there are five graves there,” said Greenfield, who formerly was a reporter with the Associated Press.
State law allows gravesites to be moved, and language in the master plan request suggests that the nearby clubhouse, with its 200-year-old log cabin, would be preserved in the event of development. Greenfield points out that leaves open the question of what might happen to the cemetery if and when the property is redeveloped:
“When I ask that, I am told that there would be multiple steps to try save the cemetery later, such as hearings,” Greenfield said. “I get that. But one thing I learned from covering this sort of thing as a reporter is that you get less conflict later, when people already know what to expect. If it’s up front that the cabin and cemetery would be preserved, a potential housing developer would already know what he’s buying. It would be frustrating for him and for us as neighbors, if it’s left vague, and we have to battle over it later.”
Homeowners battling to preserve open space because of what's included in a land use document? That doesn't sound like anything that's happened 'round these here parts, the end.


  1. Cue theme music from "The Shining." What ghosts would haunt a particleboard McMansion?

  2. If only we could find an Indian burial ground under Reston National Golf Course...

  3. Where exactly is this piece of property? I thought Reston was built out already.

    1. It's along Hunter Mill Rd near the southeast side of Lake Fairfax Park. It's not really in Reston and certainly not part of RA-land, but it uses the address.

    2. Seems like the only property owners in all of Virginia who can't keep their property are, well, deceased slaves.

    3. The Times article says the cemetery is "in a stand of trees about 200 yards north of the log clubhouse." According to my Google Earth measurements, that puts it north of the lake and very close to Hunt Club Rd/Knights Bridge CT and in Restonia.

  4. Definitely within Reston along a rock bed culvert between the Hunt Club property and Reston's Hunt Club cluster off of Hunt Club Road / Ring Road. You will not find tombstones protected by iron fencing if you attempt to find them. It's basically just a few residents grasping for straws with a minor NIMBY issue to resist change.

  5. I'd say the effort is by Reston residents who care about respect for the land, for the people who used to live and labor under bondage there, and for the value of open space to everybody. We have no backyards in most of Reston. We have more houses and a few trees.


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