On another pilgrimage in search of ancestors, we took a drive last week to look for Mare’s Run, west of Jackson’s Mill, where Joseph and Tacy (Ball) Ball, my great-grandmother Elizabeth Ann (Stalnaker) Hersman’s great-grandparents, reportedly lived. I haven’t found much about them. Their fathers were brothers, and they came to Hacker’s Creek from Fauquier Co., Virginia around 1807, and then moved west onto Mare’s Run. I had always wondered about her name, which was common along Hacker’s Creek. A death record for one of their children showed me that it was a nickname for Theis. Many of the old Virginia English families used fancy names; their sons include Augustine, Fauntleroy (really – known as “Fant”) and Wright Alpheus. My Hodges include a Theophilus.
The drive was meant to be a relaxing reconnoiter, poking around to get the lay of the land, since it was an area we had never visited. Mare’s Run itself turned out to be narrow gravel, something we don’t do on wet days when we don’t know the road. The cemeteries, however, proved irresistible, even though I had no idea that anyone I knew was in them. We ended up visiting four, all of them high on hills. Old churches and cemeteries in West Virginia inevitably are on a hill, to avoid using up good bottom land, fertile and convenient for crops. Then there was the hill behind the Valley Chapel church, which had a road that certainly looked like a cemetery road, but ended up with just old gas wells. While I was climbing and Robert was parking the car, a man came along on an ATV, looking for a lost cow, who told him, too late, that there was no cemetery. There was a lovely dogwood along the road, though.
At Freemansburg there are two churches, a Baptist and a Methodist whose stained glass over the door says Brethren, each with a cemetery separated by a deep ravine, so that, although they are next to each other, the hill must be climbed twice. Coming down, Robert spotted the loveliest surprise of the day in the ravine, a fox den with two kits, who barked at us but continued to watch us curiously.
On the way home, we stopped at a Snyder cemetery; they turned out to be not close kin, although I am sure distant cousins, but the view was wonderful. We missed the turn to Big Isaac at Avon, and ended up at the edge of West Union, which made a long drive home.