No one knows where Joseph R. Holmes is buried. It stands to reason, though, that it might be here.
I owe this entire post to the inestimable Kathy Liston, a Charlotte County archaeologist who has immersed herself in the history of the area’s African-American families. She tracked down the location of Joseph’s small acreage near Antioch Church on Old Kings Highway near Keysville, Charlotte County,Virginia. And there, at edge of a clearing, now completely overgrown, is a small cemetery. Only four stones stand, but a number of unmarked or fieldstone-marked graves are visible:
Rev. Whitfield Clarke / Born July 15, 1840 / Died Aug. 21, 1916
In Memory of Our Beloved Son / Thomas C.C. Clark/ Born Sept 2, 1882 / Died Aug 27, 1907
William Jasper Almond / Virginia / Mess Attendant / 3 Class / USNRF / A[illegible] 2, 1934
Mary J. Barrett / May 16, 1903 / May 2, 1942 / Her Memory is Blessed
These folks are not Joseph’s family, per se. They are his wife’s and are evidence of the life she built after his assassination.
Joseph Holmes married Mary Clark toward the end of the Civil War. Their four children were Payton (1865), Louisa (1866), William (1867) and Joseph (1868). Mary was the daughter of Simon and Jina Clark, and Whitfield Clark was her brother. As detailed here, Joseph R. Holmes was shot down in front of the Charlotte County Courthouse on 3 May 1869.
When the censustaker arrived the following spring, Joseph and Mary’s children were listed in the household of a couple I believe to have been Joseph’s mother and stepfather: Wat Carter, 70, wife Nancy, 70, and children Mary, 23, Liza, 17, and Wat, 16; plus Payton, 4, Louisa, 3, and Joseph Homes, 2, and Fannie Clark, 60. (That Mary is possibly Mary Clark Holmes, but may also have been Mary Carter.)
On 3 January 1872, 24 year-old widow Mary Holmes married John Almond, a 35 year-old widower. In the 1880 census of Walton, Charlotte County, carpenter John Almond’s household includes wife Mary, 31, and children Payton, 14, Wirt H., 12, Ella M., 10, and Lemon Almond, 8. Payton, it appears, was in fact Joseph’s son Payton Holmes; Wirt and Ella were John’s children by his first wife; and Lemon was John and Mary’s son together. The family remained on the land that had been Joseph Holmes’.
The oldest marked grave in the little cemetery dates to 1907. It stands to reason, though, that Mary Holmes would have had her husband buried here, where she could watch over his grave and perhaps protect it from any who sought to punish him further. Who were the four whose stones still reveal their resting places? Thomas C.C. Clark was the son of Whitfield Clark and his second wife, Amanda. He appears in the 1900 census as a student at Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia. I’ve written a bit about Reverend Whitfield Clark here. William Jasper Almond (known as Jasper, which is interesting because that was the name of Joseph Holmes’ brother, my great-great-grandfather), born in 1896, was the son of Lemon Almond and his first wife, Rosa W. Fowlkes. Mary J. Almond Barrett was Jasper’s half-sister, daughter of Lemon and Mary B. Scott Almond.
Joseph R. Holmes’ land, near Keysville, Charlotte County, Virginia.
Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2012.