ARCHELAUS HUGHES CEMETERY
Patrick County, Virginia
By Becky M and Larry D. Christiansen
The cemetery is located in southeastern Patrick County just north of Road #631 and 4.6 miles east of the Moorefield Store area and 1.1 miles west of the Henry County line. There is on the north side of the road a narrow lane that leads to the cemetery, but recently a new owner of the land installed a locked gate at the entrance to this lane. A short distance up this lane is the burial site situated to the left (west) where the walled cemetery can be seen from the lane. The cemetery cannot be seen from Road #631, but the nearby road can be viewed from the cemetery which is on an elevated knoll overlooking the road. The cemetery is less than three-quarters of a mile, as the crow flies, from the old Hughesville home in a west-southwest direction, which is reached on another lane east of the cemetery. Hughesville is on private property and permission of the owner is necessary for access.
The burial area is enclosed by a stone wall two feet wide and averaging between three and one-half to four feet in height. The walled rectangle is thirty-eight feet long on its north and south sides and forty-eight and one-half feet on the east and west sides. Entrance is via the eastern side where large flat rock steps allow entry going up over the wall with similar type steps going down into the cemetery.
Old map of southeast corner of Patrick Co., VA. The marked “x” along the Hughesville Rd. (VA. Rd.
#631 today) marks the site of the Hughes Cemetery, just to the west of Hughesville.
Burials marked by headstones with inscriptions: [Supplemental data in brackets and/or in italics]
1). Archelaus Hughes – 1747 to December 25, 1796 - [Son of Leander and Nancy
“Died at his residence in Patrick County
Col. Archelaus Hughes
On the 25th day of December 1796
In the 53rd year of his age
He rendered efficient service as an
Officer in the Revolutionary War and
Participated in the beneficent result
As an excellent citizen”
2). Mary Dalton Hughes – 1754 to December 28, 1841 - [Daughter of Samuel
Dalton and Anne Dandridge Redd Dalton]
“Sacred to the memory of
Mary Hughes the widow of
Col. Archelaus Hughes
Born in the year of our Lord 1754
Died the 28th day of December 1841
In her we saw the varied virtues blend of
Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend”
3). Samuel Hughes – born abt. 1783 to March 4, 1850 - [son of Archelaus and
“Died at his residence In Patrick County
Col. Samuel Hughes
On the 4th day of March 1850
In the 67th year of his age
By him was realized the plan
Of God's noblest working an
4). Nancy Hughes Stovall – June 30, 1773 to June 2, 1845 – [daughter of
Archelaus and Mary Hughes]
“Sacred to the memory of
Mrs. Nancy Stovall
Born: June 30, 1773
Died: June 2, 1845"
Her original headstone was found buried and broken in the
1980s and was replaced by a new headstone with the same
inscription. The original broken headstone is now in the
Patrick County Museum in Stuart, VA.
5). Brett Stovall - October 14, 1766 to 1859 – [son of George Stovall and Mary
“Major Brett Stovall
Born Oct. 14, 1766
War of 1812”
NOTE: Many question that this marks an actual burial,
believing that he was buried elsewhere, and that Mrs. Hattie
Stovall Spencer just placed a matching headstone for him
beside his wife’s grave.
6). Samuel Hughes McCabe -April 9, 1848 to January 1, 1863 – [son of Thomas
and Mary McCabe]
“Here lie the remains of
Samuel Hughes McCabe
Son of Thomas & Mary Martin McCabe
Born April 9, 1848 Died January 1, 1863
Noble, brave and generous son and
brother, sweetly sleep the soul in his God
Shed not for him the bitter tears Nor
give the heart to vain regrets
Tis but the casket that lies here The
gem that filled it sparkles yet”
Probable Burials – some of these graves are marked with primitive stones with no inscriptions:
1). Leander Hughes - (abt. 1770 to 1867) - probably the oldest child of Archelaus and Mary
Dalton Hughes. He was born in his parents’ first home and after the erection of
Hughesville it became his home. Upon the death of his mother and later his brother Samuel,
he continued to live at Hughesville until he passed away at the age of 97. He is found on the
1850 and 1860 Patrick Co. Census South District, but he is not found on the 1870 Mayo
District. On the 1850 census Thomas McCabe and his wife Mary Martin McCabe, plus
children from Mary's two marriages, were living at Hughesville with their Uncle Leander.
In 1860 Mary and three children from the Staples marriage and three from the McCabe
marriage were living at Hughesville. On this census Leander was listed as a “gentlemen”
at age 92, while his niece Mary Martin McCabe not only heads the list of family members
but shows an income of $8,000, an extremely high figure for Patrick County where the next
highest figures were $7,000, $6,100, $5,880, $5,700 and $4,500. As he never married, at his
death Hughesville passed solely to his niece (his sister's daughter), Mary Martin McCabe.
After spending his whole life living there and possibly the last 15 plus years managing
some of the Hughes property, it is almost inconceivable that he would have been buried
anywhere but in the family burial grounds.
2). Gabriel Hughes - the son of Archelaus and Mary Hughes who died in an accident as a
youth. The number of known children of Archelaus and Mary Hughes varies from nine, ten
or eleven in most stories of the family with only a few of the children with reliable birth
dates. Family accounts have many discrepancies with much omitted and numerous
From a second great-granddaughter, Hallie McCabe Price (Mrs. Robert B. Price),
comes the story of a son in the Archelaus Hughes family who died young in an accident.
She submitted papers to the National Society of the DAR as a descendant of Archelaus
Hughes. These papers included Mrs. Price’s lineage as follows:
“. . . Col. Archelaus Hughes and wife Mary Dalton. Their daughter, Sallie,
married Col. Joseph Martin. Their daughter, Mary Martin, married Col.
Thomas McCabe. Their son, Thomas F., married Rachel Tatum. Their
daughter, Hallie McCabe, married Robert B. Price.”
Mrs. Price belonged to the DAR ( Serial # 416710). Her verbatim account included this
Col. Hughes had a son who was thrown from a horse and his neck
was broken. The slaves claimed that in late evening after sunset they
would see a man sitting by the road side about where young Hughes
met his death and he had no head, but would be crying.
None of the known sons can be connected to this story. Confirmation of this son with a
name plus an additional family member comes from an even closer source. Archways M.
Hughes III (1800-1838), son of Archways Hughes, Jr., and grandson of Archelaus Hughes,
in an account he wrote in 1827 from Weakly County in Tennessee cited several of the
brothers and sister of his father Archelaus Hughes, Jr. [or II]. He made two additions to
his grandparents’ children in this fashion:
“Gabriel Hughes, the other brother, and Mary Hughes, the other sister,
died when quite young.”
The “other” brother and sister that died while very young are not listed by most
researchers and family historians, but they are believed by us to be buried in this cemetery.
3). Mary Hughes - the young daughter of Archelaus and Mary Hughes, who died while “quite
young” as cited above. This makes the number of children in the Hughes family at thirteen.
4). William Martin - (1742-1809) -
He was the son of Joseph Martin and his wife Susanna Chiles born in Albemarle County,
Virginia and died in Stokes County, N.C. He married Rachel Dalton, the sister of Mary
Dalton Hughes, in 1798. Additional connections to the Hughes family came when a
daughter, Nancy, married Archelaus Hughes, Jr., and when another daughter, Sally, married
Capt. John Hughes in February of 1798. William Martin served in the Revolutionary War
first as a county lieutenant and later as a captain. As part of his war service he received a
grant of land from North Carolina in the area that became Tennessee. He moved to N.C.
upon inheriting land to be near his brother Col. Jack Martin. He and his wife had nine
Lucy Henderson Horton in her Family History, printed in 1922, on page 153 wrote:
“Captain Martin is buried at ‘Hughesville’ in the old family burying grounds in Patrick
County, Virginia.” No further information on this possible burial has been found.
Physical assessments of the graves within the Archelaus Hughes Cemetery:
1984 -- Mr. O. E. Pilson’s work Tombstone Inscriptions of the Cemeteries of Patrick County, Virginia was
published and on page two and his seventh cemetery listed, Mr. Pilson wrote the following:
COL. ARCHELAUS HUGHES CEMETERY, Located on the north
side of Road # 631, about 1.1 mile west of Henry County line, near
Buddy Hylton home. Cemetery is enclosed by stone wall. It was
unattended for many years, and was in bad condition, but has been
restored recently, and is now in good condition.
After listing the tombstone inscriptions for six graves he concluded: “There are 4 graves marked
with field stones with no inscriptions.”
NOTE: The cemetery restoration mentioned by Mr. Pilson was done in 1981,
spearheaded by Hattie Stovall Spencer.
History of the cemetery:
The first two burials were probably the children who died young—Gabriel and Mary—followed by their father Archelaus Hughes in 1796. The last burial in this family burial ground was oldest son Leander in 1867. The stone wall that completely surrounds the cemetery was constructed about 1850. In the settlement of Samuel Hughes’ estate, the account current of Administrator Joseph Martin included the notation dated October 3, 1850 - (paid to) “Geo. Gatewood balance due him for building wall around grave yard 15.46”
In 1850 or shortly before, a major improvement of the cemetery took place with the erection of the stone wall and inscribed marble headstones for some of the previous burials. Prior to the death of Mary Dalton Hughes in December of 1841, this burial ground contained only four graves—the young Hughes son and daughter who died as children, the father Archelaus who passed away in 1796 and possibly Captain William Martin who died in 1809. None of these graves were marked with inscribed headstones. Then beginning with Mary Dalton Hughes' death the next nine years saw a daughter Nancy and a son Samuel buried in the cemetery. When Nancy Stovall died in June of 1845, her grave was marked with an inscribed headstone. Then in the period between Mary Hughes' death in 1841 and the burial of Samuel Hughes in 1850 the family burial ground was improved with the stone wall and permanent marble headstones for three of the Hugheses. Although we do not know the exact dates, we can make inferences from the fact that the inscribed headstones of Archelaus Hughes, Mary Hughes and Samuel Hughes were identical in style and material. Apparently the three were erected at the same time or within a short time of each other, and not the five decades and four years between their death dates (1796 to 1850).
With the death of Mary Hughes in 1841, she passed “the tract of land and premise” on which she resided to her son Samuel. He now had the Hughesville home and adjacent land plus acreage of his own that included 300 acres surrounding the cemetery. In January of 1850 Samuel, a bachelor, passed this 300
acres by the burial grounds down to a nephew with the following stipulation in the deed: “Samuel Hughes for and in consideration of the natural love and affection to his nephew the said Joseph Martin, Jr. and being desirous that the burying place of his ancestors should be in the possession of a relative in whom he has confidence and for the further consideration of one dollar . . . .” Possibly the stone wall around the cemetery was a factor in this gift by Samuel to his nephew. However, in 1878 the Martins sold the land to people not related to the family buried in the cemetery. The only burials in the cemetery after the land was given to Joseph Martin were Samuel Hughes in March of 1850, Samuel McCabe in January of 1863 and Leander Hughes in 1867. Two months after Mary Martin Staples McCabe buried her son Samuel Hughes McCabe in January of 1863 in this cemetery, she started a burial ground adjacent to the home place of Hughesville. The new burial site was closer to the Hughesville home and on land directly controlled by the family. Here she and two of her Staples children and three of her McCabe children were buried between March of 1863 and 1923.
With most of Archelaus’ family moving to Tennessee and those in Patrick County, Virginia, dying and with the land on which the cemetery was located passing outside the family, this burial ground apparently received little or no care, and perhaps little notice except an occasional visit by descendants. Therefore it is hard to relate the history except for a few old pictures with big gaps in the story.
The Cemetery from Photographs
Becky Christiansen, a fourth great granddaughter of Archelaus and Mary Hughes ,and her husband, Larry, found the location of this cemetery in 1999. Besides the extensive cleanup, they researched the land and other records, sought old pictures and tried to piece together some of the past of this historic cemetery. The oldest pictures they found were taken by Gus and Anne Johnston Ford in April of 1935. One of their
is shown at the left.
Pictures is shown at the left.
This view of the Archelaus Hughes headstone on the left and his wife Mary on the right is in the southwest corner of the cemetery looking westward at the stone wall.
Behind each headstone on the left can be seen the trunk of a large tree with the larger one behind Archelaus’, but both trees were as wide as or wider than the headstones.
Newspaper picture of “The Old Hughes Cemetery” with an article on Hughesville and the cemetery from the Bull Mountain Bugle, Stuart, VA of April 24, 1974. From a descendant, Judge Samuel Hairston, an identical photograph was obtained with the date of September of 1974.
Pictures taken after 1999:
picture above shows the eastern wall after Descendant
Roy Via standing on the western wall
The picture above shows the eastern wall after Descendant Roy Via standing on the western wall
the vegetation and small trees had been cut down or back wall of the cemetery during the summer
sufficiently to see the rock wall and access to the of 2000. The wall at this point was nearly four
stone steps. feet in height. The Via family helped in the
The view to the left is of the interior of the cemetery taken from the eastern wall after the vegetation had been cut from outside that wall and some of the tallest vegetation had been cut from the SE corner of the cemetery’s interior. The round stone in the lower center was a puzzle to us until the entire cemetery was cleared. It proved to be the footstone for Nancy Stovall’s grave.
When the Christiansens first saw the cemetery in 1999, the growth of small trees and other vegetation resembled a jungle both inside and outside the rock walls, thick enough that even the rock wall could not be seen until approached within a few feet. They began the cleanup by clearing the tall vegetation outside the eastern wall and using the stone steps moved inside the walls and cleared a small area in the southeastern corner by two inscribed headstones and some graves marked by primitive field stones. Because they were involved in restoring another old family burial ground in northern Patrick County and due to the great
amount of work involved in cleaning up this thicket at the Hughes Cemetery, they knew they needed help to do the task. They contacted the Boy Scouts in 2000 and it became an Eagle Project involving scouts from Stuart and Mt. Airy. The scouts were to clean up the area and run the cut vegetation through a chipper. They waited until the ground cover of poison oak had died and snakes were less likely to be encountered. In the meantime the Via family, who became acquainted with the Christiansens in their restoration of the cemetery in the north, came to their Hughes ancestors burial grounds, and cut much of the vegetation and piled it outside the walls. Through the winter and spring of 2001 the scouts came in and finished the cleanup with other finishing touches.
Picture of the Boy Scouts and their leaders who helped cleanup the cemetery. The view shows the graves from the bottom left in a clockwise direction – Samuel McCabe, Samuel Hughes, Archelaus and Mary Hughes (beside the
scouts), and then Nancy Stovall and Brett Stovall.
After the trees and brush were cut down and chipped into small pieces, then came the battle with the vast growth of vines which formed a literal mat two to three inches thick in places. A prime example was at the Samuel McCabe grave (shown in the above picture bottom left) just inside the cemetery next to the stone steps. We were totally unaware that a marble slab covered the entire grave until the final stages of cleanup when the thick growth of vines was cleared. In the above picture the mat of vines had just been removed, unveiling the marble covering.
A front view of the Archealus (left) and Mary (right) Hughes headstones with the large tree stumps behind them and adjacent to the stone wall on the west side of the cemetery.
Between the two headstones a root had a large exposed knurl or knot on it, and both decayed stumps were unsightly eyesores. The stump behind Archelaus Hughes' grave was the largest and measured 26 inches at its narrowest point and 33 inches at the widest diameter at the cutoff point. The stump behind Mary Hughes' grave was smaller but still measured 20 inches at the narrowest point and 23 inches at the widest diameter at the cutoff point. A professor of Tree Physiology and Silviculture at the Department of Forestry at Virginia Tech was contacted and given the measurements cited above. He stated there was no reliable way of determining the age of these trees when cut off since the inner two-thirds had decayed away. However, he noted that the Eastern Red Cedars were slow growing and that trees of the size we gave stump diameters for were “likely several hundred years old at least.” Thus, making it feasible that the large cedar trees behind Archelaus and Mary Hughes’ headstone could have dated from or near the time of Archelaus’ interment in 1796, or even that this burial location was chosen because there were two Eastern Red Cedars growing there close together. Perhaps this is a reason for the cemetery being so far from Hughesville.
The restored cemetery as it looked in the spring of 2001. View of the cemetery showing the six known graves with inscribed headstones plus some graves with field stone markers.
The stone steps up over the wall and down into the cemetery on the right side.
The two Stovall headstones with Nancy’s footstone at the far right are pictured.
June 16. 2001 Sons of American Revolution Commemorative Service at the Archelaus Hughes Cemetery. SAR soldier and Boy Scouts participating in the service at which 33 descendants, friends and interested
At the conclusion of these services the newly installed SAR bronze grave marker was unveiled as shown in the picture to the left. Robert L. Hughes of Tennessee, a fourth great grandson of Archelaus Hughes and SAR official in Tennessee, donated the grave marker and dedicated it.
The picture below shows the main burial area of the cemetery taken in the early spring of 2007.
Early spring of 2008 showing the condition of the cemetery which remains well kept in memory of those buried there.