A Few Steps Closer to a Death Date and a Burial Place — 52 Ancestors: #6 Elizabeth Jane Wallace

There are a lot of things I know about Elizabeth.  Her parents.  Her husband. Her children. But I didn’t know when she died or where her final resting place was.  And it bothered me.

Donald Plot at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia

Donald Plot at Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia4

Her husband, James Calvin Donald,1 her son John Charlton2 and John’s wife Elizabeth3 and their two sons are buried in at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.  All in the same plot. You can see James Calvin Donald in the back with the Southern Cross.  John C Donald Sr and Elizabeth J Donald in the front, and to the right out of the picture are John and Elizabeth’s two sons.  Where is Elizabeth Wallace, wife of James? Mother of John?

There are four posts about six inches high around the plot.  I took this short video to document the size of the plot and then empty spaces.

I headed over to the cemetery office to ask him about the plot and to see if there was any information we could find. The very helpful office worker, I wish I could remember his name, looked up James in the index and then helped us find the correct card in his book.  Two columns.  On the left, John C Donald  (Dec 27/1827 March 6/ 1748), Elizabeth J Donald (1895-1973), John C Donald (1921-1976), and William Lewis Donald (6-28-1927 – 5-16-05)5

page from donald burial records at stonewall jackson cemetery

Page from burial records taken in office of Stonewall Jackson Cemetery6

And in the right column? James C. Donald (1836 -1899).  And three graves.  We asked the caretaker and he said that those were unmarked graves.  He also told us that the information came from the church when they transferred the cemetery to the city.    Notice the information on the right was typed.  The information on the left was written, no doubt when the person was buried.

Now let’s say one of them was Elizabeth Jane Wallace, wife of James.  Who are the other two? According to a rather lengthy family history of the Lyle family in Rockbridge County, James and Elizabeth had two children that died young: William D and Andrew M.7

snippet from lyle book

Are the three unmarked graves, Elizabeth, William and James?  I asked about the question mark on that page and it is a possible grave.

We do know that Elizabeth’s will was written in 1901 and she left everything to her son John C Donald, who is buried in the plot with unmarked graves.8  He also declares himself the executor of her estate on October 1st, 1918.9  It is loose circumstantial evidence that he would have buried his mother in that same plot that he later was buried in and his father was buried in.

I also know that Elizabeth is in the 1910 census, living with her son, John C, and her mother.10 So she died sometime between 1910 and 1918, most likely in 1918.  And I think there is a strong possibility that she is one of the unmarked graves in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.  Still more work needs to be done.  But I’m closer!

1 Find A Grave, digital images, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 5 Feb 2014), memorial page for Pvt James C. Donald,  Find A Grave Memorial no. 34346979, citing Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.
2 Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery (Main Street, Lexington, Virginia), John C Donald marker, upper portion of cemetery, personally read, 2013.
3 Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery (Main Street, Lexington, Virginia), Elizabeth J Donald marker, upper portion of cemetery, personally read, 2013.
4 Mitchell, Anne Gillespie, Photo of Donald Plot, Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia. Copy help by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], California, 2013
5 Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery (Lexington, Virginia), Donald Plot burial records, Lewis section, (viewed by author, 2013).
6 Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Donald Plot.
7 Oscar K. Lyle, Lyle family: The Ancestry and Posterity of Matthew John, Daniel and Samuel Lyle, Pioneer Settlers in Virginia, (New York, New York: Lecouver Press Company, 1912), 169; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 Feb 2014)
8 Rockbridge, Virginia, Will Book 39:373, E J Donald, widow of James C Donald, Will, written 2 Jan 1901; Clerk of County Court, Lexington.
9 Rockbridge, Virginia, Will Book 39:413-414, Exec.’s bond for E J Donald, John C Donald, Exec., filed 1 Oct 1918; Clerk of County Court, Lexington.
10. 1910 US Federal Census, Rockbridge county, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington Magisterial District, [unnumbered], ED  109, sheet 13-B, dwelling 186, family 186, Elizabeth Donald household; database and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jan 2010); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1647.

9 thoughts on “A Few Steps Closer to a Death Date and a Burial Place — 52 Ancestors: #6 Elizabeth Jane Wallace

      1. misha00lowther

        it is SOO much more…and not many recognize that…so…though it is small and from a total stranger, congrats on a great job 😀 and I hope you will continue to enjoy every minute of it 😀

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  2. Richard Tallent

    How interesting!

    I suppose this is an obvious place to look, but have you looked for an obit for her in local papers?

    I wonder what standard of proof the cemetery would need to add a marker?

  3. Mary P.

    I have been looking for my GGF’s grave for a number of years. According to family stories he died in Baltimore City during the Great Pandemic of 1918-1919. I searched death records at the archives to no avail. I read an article at: http://www.flu.gov/pandemic/history/1918/your_state/northeast/maryland/ which mentions that “Deaths went unrecorded as the city workers who processed death certificates were out sick. Funeral homes overflowed and bodies began to be stacked up outside these buildings.” This article certainly put a damper on my hope of finding my GGF’s grave!

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