CORN-STOVALL CEMETERY

Located in Patrick County, VA.

By Becky and Larry Christiansen

Location

This family burial place is in northwestern Patrick County in the drainage area of Goblintown Creek. It is most easily accessed from the closest main road VA. Hwy. 57 that runs from its junction with VA. Hwy 8 north of Stuart and goes to Bassett by way of Fairy Stone Park. Within three or four miles of this park, VA. Rd. 635 (Goblintown Road) crosses VA. Hwy 57. Turn north on this road, passing a brick church on the left and a white framed Goblintown Primitive Baptist Church also on the left. One-half mile on the right is Pine Lane which leads into a small mobile home park, take Pine Lane and stay on the upper level continuing straight toward a mobile home where a left hand turn goes down a tree lined lane to a metal pasture gate; the entrance to the cemetery is beside the pasture gate.

Figure 1 -Patrick Co. along Va. Hwy 57 with the small inked in “X” indicating the cemetery.

Burials:

The family burial ground contains the following known graves with inscriptions:

1). Jesse Corn, Sr., b. Oct. 31, 1753; d. March 9, 1809. [His wife and all of his children, except one, were

buried in Tennessee.]

2). Elizabeth T. Burnett Corn, b. May 12, 1792; d. March 29, 1869. [Wife of Jesse, Jr.]

3). Jesse Corn, Jr., b. March 11, 1787; d.. Feb. 12, 1886.

4). Judeth V. Corn Ross, b. Dec. 19, 1828; d. July 15, 1880.[ Daughter of Elizabeth & Jesse, Jr.]

5). Mary P. F. Via (Dau. of J.R.& M. L. Via), b. Oct. 29, 1875; d. July 31, 1897. [Great granddaughter of

Jesse Corn, Jr.]

Probable burials in the graves marked with field stones:

1). George Corn, b. Sept 30, 1799; d. prior to his father Jesse Corn, Sr.’s death in March of 1809.

2). Joseph Peter Stovall, b. abt. 1856; d. Jan. 19, 1860 [Son of Permelia and Joseph Madison Stovall.]

3). Jesse Brett Stovall, b. 1849; d. Jan. 29, 1860. [Son of Permelia and Joseph Madison Stovall.]

4). Mary S. Stovall, b. early 1843; d. early 1860s. [Daughter of Permelia and Joseph Madison Stovall.]

5). Beulah Delay Via, b. Oct. 15, 1883; d. Oct. 23, 1883. [Infant daughter of John Rufus and Martha

Lucretia Stovall Via.]

6). Sarah “Salley” Stovall, b. abt. 1810; d. Feb. 15, 1886. [Daughter of Brett and Nancy Stovall, and

spinster sister of Joseph Madison Stovall.]

7). Martha “Patsy” Stovall, b. abt. 1818; d. Feb. 15, 1886 [Daughter of Brett and Nancy Stovall, and

spinster sister of Joseph Madison Stovall.]

NOTE: The 1880 census shows the unmarried sisters, Sarah and Martha, were living with

their brother and his family at the Stovall home place just a few hundred yards from

this cemetery, and brother Joseph reported their deaths.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Brief history with pictures.

Established :

Extensive research of the Patrick County records, particularly the land records, established the ownership of this area from Jesse Corn, Sr’s. initial purchase of one hundred acres in 1794 and subsequent additions and making his residence on this land.

Jesse Corn, Sr., a Revolutionary War soldier and owner of the land surrounding this cemetery, started this family burial ground sometime in the first decade of 1800, when he buried his young son George (born 1799 and died before his father). The second burial came in 1809 when Jesse, Sr. passed away and was buried near his son. Then for just over half a century there were no burials in this family burial ground. Then in the 1860s there were four burials, one in the 1870s, four in the 1880s and the last one in 1897. This was primarily because after the death of Jesse, Sr. his wife and all the children except Jesse, Jr. relocated to Tennessee.

Ownership of the property passed from Jesse Corn, Sr. to his son Jesse Corn, Jr. and then to the latter’s son-in-law, Joseph Madison Stovall, with the condition that the land pass jointly to Jesse Jr.’s two grandsons, George W. and John T. Stovall, with the stipulation that if one of the grandsons died without heirs, the other would inherit the entire home place, including the burial site. There were no difficulties with the joint ownership until an epidemic of smallpox took both the parents (Permelia and Joseph Madison Stovall) plus son George W. Stovall and his wife in 1902. This left several young orphaned heirs and eventually the court decided there was no way the property could be fairly divided and ordered one-half

of the estate (much of which had been passed down from Jesse, Sr. to Jesse, Jr. to Joseph Madison Stovall and to his two sons) sold at auction in 1903 to satisfy the young orphaned heirs. The property sold contained the burial ground which the court formally decreed that an area of seventy-five feet square be reserved as a burial ground for the Corns and Stovalls.

In the meantime the Stovalls had donated land to establish the Goblintown Primitive Baptist Church nearby, and in 1896 a family member was buried on Stovall property adjacent to the church, starting in time what became the Goblintown Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery where Joseph Madison Stovall and his wife Permelia were buried in 1902, and where other family members would be buried thereafter. John T. Stovall and his family continued to live on the unsold half of the Corn-Stovall home place, remaining very close to the family burial ground, and in 1917 he purchased the sold portion and reunited the old home place of his parents and grandfather Jesse Corn, Jr. Then came the depression and John T. lost possession of half of the property in 1935 and the other half in 1936. In all the land transactions there was the legal requirement that one-eighth acre was reserved for a graveyard until a transfer in 1972 which for the first time did not mention the reservation. John T. Stovall died in 1939 and was buried in the Goblintown Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery.

There has been found no direct references to whom and what care this burial ground received after 1939, some four decades after the last burial in this cemetery. Therefore this place probably soon fell into disrepair with few visits by descendants and possibly little care and upkeep.


Earliest Known Pictures

The three pictures of the original inscribed headstones were taken by Paul S. Corn at an unknown date, and he gave copies to his sister Edyth Corn Waterman. In 1999 she sent copies to us.

The pictures below clearly show that Elizabeth’s headstone was the roughest in design and inscription. We do not know if it was placed shortly after her death or sometime later. It appears to have been made by hand and not by an experienced stonecutter. All the letters were in capitals with no spacing between first, initial and surname, and the last letter of “CORN” was made backwards. The headstone on the right was for Jesse Corn, Jr., and it was placed much later than his 1876 death. There were primitive rock headstone and footstone at this grave, and when the inscribed headstone and a footstone of the same composition were put into place, the primitive grave markers were left intact and they are still there.



The inscription on Jesse Jr.’s headstone was done by a professional with mechanical assistance. Elizabeth’s full inscription reads:

SACRED TO. THE SOUL OF OUR SISTER IS GONE

ELIZABETH.T.CORN TO HEIGHTEN THE TRIUMPH ABOVE

WHO DIED. 29.TH EXALTED TO JESUS THRONE

MARCH 1869. AND CLASPED IN THE ARMS OF HIS LOVE.

AGED 75 y. 10

Mo. 17 D S.

Judeth V. Ross's headstone inscription, as shown at the left, was much better than her mother’s and showed better workmanship than her father’s and gives the correct spelling of her given name. When we found the cemetery in 1999 neither Elizabeth’s or Judeth’s headstone inscription could be read. Jesse, Jr.’s could still be read but was beginning to fade.

As a side note, while working in restoring this place Mr. Howard Pilson came and helped us several times. In time he revealed that he was related to Judeth’s husband, who was buried in a Ross family cemetery not far away while the wife

was buried beside her parents.











Three Significant Visits to the Cemetery:

An 1981 visit to the cemetery came in September when Richard and Jack Corn, brothers from Tennessee and descendants of Jesse Corn, Sr., came to Patrick County seeking information on their ancestors. At the court house they were told about Mr. O. E. Pilson, who was very knowledgeable about local history and places. They met and secured Mr. Pilson’s assistance and were taken to the Goblintown Creek area and shown where Jesse, Sr. lived and where he operated a store with a post office and then taken to the family burial grounds where Mr. Pilson thought Jesse Corn, Sr. was buried although no inscribed marker could be found. To reach the buried grounds they had to walk across a clearing (where once was an old dirt race track for cars) and ascend a small knoll with many trees and other vegetation. Many years later, Jack recalled the burial area “was a jungle” from which “We chased cows out and it was so over grown it was hard to tell what was what.” The following pictures were taken on this trip.

The small knoll with the burial area. One headstone shown at bottom left corner.


At the left, Richard Corn looking at a head- stone with Mr. O. E. Pilson in the Corn family burial grounds in September of 1981. The picture was taken by Jack Corn, a professional photographer.

This view shows the condition of the area and grave at this point in time with some of the headstones erect and others tipped over. Probably the graves marked with primitive stones could only be found with much searching and some clearing away of the debris and vegetation.

To the left Mr. O. E. Pilson inspecting the headstone of Jesse Corn, Jr., which had been found lying flat on the ground. It was leaned against the primitive stone marker which was initially placed at the grave. To help read the inscription on the headstone, a white powder or chalk was used, hoping the inscription would show up on photographs.

Because this headstone for Jesse Corn, Jr. could be read, Mr. Pilson thereafter referred to the cemetery by that name; still, he told the two Corn brothers he thought Jesse Corn, Sr. was buried at this place.

Mr. Pilson did not record the inscription on these headstone at this time, but he came back to record them a year and a half later as part of a general work covering Patrick County.

At the left Mr. O. E. Pilson at the Corn Cemetery in 1981 placing a white powder or chalk of the headstone inscription

Mr. Pilson was a native of Patrick County with strong family ties to the county, an educator by profession, a historian, genealogist, and a man who spent much time in finding and searching through old cemeteries, discovering that sometimes the old inscribed headstones were the only place where dates of birth and death could be found. Mr. Pilson was “credited with the majority of effort” in getting the History of Patrick County, Virginia a reality rather than a hope. The history was published in 1999, the same year Mr. Pilson died.


Another vist in 1983:

On March 3, 1983, Mr. O. E. Pilson returned to this cemetery and recorded the inscriptions on the headstones which would be included in his planned book subsequently published in 1984 entitled Tombstone Inscriptions of the Cemeteries of Patrick County, Virginia. In his book which included over 900 Patrick County cemeteries, this burial grounds was number #347, and the following is from page 174 of his book:


JESSE CORN, JR. CEMETERY, located on a knoll, above old race track, on the East side

ff Road #635 about ½ mile east of Goblintown Church.

March 3, 1983 [date of his visit]

Jesse Corn, b. 11 Mar. 1787; d. 12 Feb. 1876, age 88 yrs, 11 mo. 1 day

Elizabeth Corn, b. 12 May 1893; d. 29 Mar. 1869, 75 yrs, 10 mo. 17 days

Judith V. Ross, b. 19 Dec. 1828; d. 15 July 1880.

Mary P. F. Via, Dau. of J. R. & M. L. Via, b. 29 Oct. 1875; d. 31 July 1897.

At least 6 graves with crude stones, no inscriptions.


The third significant visit in 1999:

In the fall of 1998 while in the High Point, N.C. Library. Becky Martin Christiansen, the 4th great granddaughter of Jesse Corn, Sr. and 3rd great granddaughter of Elizabeth and Jesse Corn, Jr., found a copy of Mr. Pilson’s book on Patrick County cemeteries and read the information on page 174. She asked a cousin to help locate the place, and finally in February of 1999 her husband with the directions from Mr. Pilson’s book went in search of the precise location. After some futile searching for a knoll by an old race track, the place was finally found by the assistance of Mr. Howard Royal, who lived on Goblintown Road just north of the cemetery. With his personal guidance, the cemetery was located and an introduction to the property owner was made on the same day. Following the owner’s directions we circled around and approached the burial area from behind. We were able to drive down a narrow lane than had been bulldozed through a stand of trees and stopped by a closed metal pasture gate. Entering the pasture we discovered the burial area was some distance from the gate and in among the trees on the knoll. There was much evidence that the cattle spend much time in the shade in and around the graves.

Below are some pictures taken during this February 1999 visit showing the condition at that time.

The first picture shows were the white vehicle stopped at the metal pasture gate with the cleared narrow lane behind. After entering the pasture Mr. Royal can be see searching among the trees and vegetation for graves. The cleared area on the right was bulldozed to facilitate the passage of a mobile home for storage of cattle feed, which went around the edge of the knoll and was parked on the far side of the burial area. Because the cattle in the pasture grazed, wandered and lay down among the graves, the vegetation was cropped close, the mat of leaves compacted in places and reduced along their trails.

This view shows the trees of various sizes with numerous small one. The cattle feed storage mobile home

is shown on the left with Mr. Royal looking at the largest and most recent burial with the headstone laying flat on the ground. Just to the left of center was the only standing headstone remaining at this time.

The two pictures above—the one on the left shows Jesse Corn, Jr.’s headstones, the field stone marker and the later inscribed headstone. On the right is Jesse, Jr.’s headstone beside its broken concrete base.

Restoration of the old cemetery

After locating the old cemetery in February of 1999, we decided we should clean up and restore the cemetery, and contacted the owner of the property, Mr. E. B. Turner, regarding our desire to fence the cemetery to keep out the cattle which roamed among the headstones. After protracted negotiations over eight months, we finally reached an agreement. During this interim much attention was focused on research of the land records and locating other descendants.

In early November of 1999 the owner, Mr. E. B. Turner, informed us that he would have a fence built to prevent his cattle from getting into the burial area. By Thanksgiving the fence was up and covered an area much larger than the court specified area and provided access to the area without entering the fenced pasture, a major concern for the land owner.

The net wire fence can be seen in the picture to the left. The graves are to the right of the fence. The cleared strip to the left of the fence was bulldozed free of trees by the property owner.

By the time the immediate burial area was cleared and the fallen headstones set back up, we decided that we had more than a cleanup and restoration project on our hands. Our research had convinced us without question that Jesse Corn, Sr. and his young son George were also buried in this cemetery, and at minimum an appropriate marker should be erected for the Revolutionary War soldier. In addition we believed that because the old headstones for Elizabeth Corn and her daughter Judeth V. Ross could no longer be read, that supplemental grave markers should be placed on their graves. A short time later three photographs of these headstones came from a descendant, Mrs. Edyth Waterman from Roanoke, VA, and solved the question of correctly identifying the graves. From Tennessee came our first contact with the Corn brothers from the relocated Corn family, and there were three of them—Jack, Richard and William—and they shared their information with us. We learned of their trip in 1981 and received much genealogical and historical data they had researched.

The picture above shows the burial area after the debris had been removed and headstones put in place. On the far left near the largest tree is Judeth Ross’s grave, to the right is Elizabeth Corn’s headstone in front of a small tree, and farther to the right are the headstones and foot stone of Jesse Corn, Jr. In the foreground with the mixed shadows (difficult to make out) are some the graves marked with primitive stones. The Mary Via headstone is just out of view on the lower right side of the picture. There are two distinct sections to the burials, the Corns were grouped in the eastern side with the Stovalls on the western side.

The project became multi-faceted, involving the physical work of the cleanup and restoring the graves, spreading the word about the project, raising money for it, research on cleaning headstones, research to possibly identify the unmarked graves, ordering a government marker for the Revolutionary veteran, ordering granite markers for two other graves, placing an informative article in the Stuart newspaper, and etc.

Then came the last addition at the request of the Corn brothers from Tennessee-- a commemoration of the grave of Jesse Corn, Sr. and dedication in a memorial service that was held on June 10, 2000, at the cemetery under the direction the Sons of the American Revolution with a program and the placement of a SAR emblem on his headstone.

The large picture below is of family members and friends at the commemorative service held in the cemetery on June 10, 2000.

Picture above on the left – Jesse Corn, Sr.’s

new marble headstone furnished by the US Government due to his military service in the Revolutionary War.


Picture above on the right – Elizabeth T. Corn’s old inscribed headstone with the new granite marker


The picture to the left shows the old headstone and the new granite marker for Judeth V. Ross.






What followed the Cleanup, Restoration and Improvement to the Cemetery:

The less glamorous or celebratory work of caring for the cemetery each year is vitally important. Each year the leaves are removed along with fallen branches, twigs, etc. Since the dedication four trees have been blown down which impacted the cemetery, two hitting the fence. A serious effort has been made to reduce the numerous small trees that could create a thicket, a two large trees which were too close to headstone were also removed. Plus a third granite marker was place at the grave of Jesse Corn, Jr.

Below are some views taken in early March of 2008 before the spring cleanup which show some of the effects of this effort.

This spring of 2008 picture shows Mary Via’s headstone in the right foreground, to the left a series of

field stone markers for burials, and in the background the Corn family burials—from left to right,

Judeth, Elizabeth and Jesse Corn, Jr. Jesse, Sr.’s marker is hidden from view by the largest tree.


This view in the picture below is of the eastern side of the burial area. It was taken directly in front of Mary Via’s grave and shows the eastern side where the Corns were buried. Judeth Ross’ grave is on far left and Elizabeth Corn’s is in the middle. To the right and in front are Jesse Corn, Jr.’s headstones which consist of the original primitive field stone, then the upright inscribed headstone, and the flat granite marker. His footstone is several feet east of his headstone. The large white marble headstone is Jesse Corn, Sr,’s.


Jesse Corn, Sr’s marble marker showing the SAR emblem for his service in the Revolutionary War.

Immediately behind this headstone is a partial view of some of Jesse Corn, Jr.’s markers-- the new flat granite marker with the old headstones. At the right, partially hidden by the green holly bush, is the white granite marker for Elizabeth Corn’s grave.