By the year 1846, William A. Jones Sr. had acquired around 2400 acres of land in the area that would become Holliday Lake State Park. His farm was along Holliday Creek and Saunders Creek. A family cemetery is still visible behind our modern-day Concession Stand. There are interpretive signs that tell some of the Jones family story.
Behind the Concession Stand
William and his wife, Caroline, had eleven children. Some of the children didn’t live to adulthood, and some seem to have gotten “lost” in the shuffle of census, birth, marriage, and death records. The oldest and youngest children were boys and we can follow them through most of their lives. Of the nine daughters, some seem to disappear as they grew up, presumably because they married, changed their names and moved away from the area with their husbands. Here are just a few things we know:
The oldest, Margaret married J. T. Saunders and had two daughters. She died in 1848 and is buried in the cemetery at Holliday Lake State Park.
Crawford, the oldest son, was a lawyer and Commonwealth Attorney for Appomattox County. At just twenty-five years old, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1855. Crawford was killed in 1863, by Samuel Forbes, his overseer. Forbeswas arrested and tried for the murder butwas acquitted. Apparently,some kind of disagreement involving Mrs. Forbes led to the murder. While he never served in the Civil War, he was very vocal about his support of secession from the Union.
Henrietta married Samuel B. Hairston, a wealthy land owner from Henry County. They had seven sons and one daughter. Henrietta died at age 34, leaving behind her sons andbaby daughter.
Henrietta’s sister, Lucy married Samuel’s brother, Peter Hairston. When Henrietta died, Lucy and Peter raised Henrietta’s daughter, Caroline. Lucy had no children of her own.
Three daughters died within two weeks of each other in December 1852. Lavinia, Victoria, and Caroline (Lucy's twin) are all buried in the cemetery in Holliday Lake State Park. Only Victoria’s and Caroline’s graves are marked with names and dates, but it is recorded that Lavinia is there too. There are several areas where soil indentations represent unmarked graves. What happened to these young girls? There was an epidemic of yellow fever that year, but it could also have been typhus or any number of contagious diseases. We can only guess.
Jones Family Cemetery
The youngest William A. Jones Jr. was listed on the 1870 census as an invalid. We don’t know exactly what his ailments were, but he was in and out of state hospitals for a few years, and finally admitted for good to the Southwestern State Hospital in Marion, Virginia sometime before 1900. He is buried in Marion.
The family must have been successful. Census records show their home was worth considerably more than their neighbors: $14,000 for real estate in the year 1860, with a $50,000 value listed for their “personal estate.” They were farmers, but also had some gold on the property.
Mr. Jones died in 1855 and Mrs. Jones lived on until 1885, in her later years with her granddaughter, Laura Walker (Margaret’s daughter). After Mrs. Jones’ death, William Jr.’s creditors sued to have the property sold to pay his debts, including his hospital care. That began a legal battle that ended in 1900 when the estate was sold.
I’ve been fascinated by the Jones family for many years. My own family has lived in the area since the early 1800s and it is certain they knew the Joneses. Just recently while looking over the 1870 census data, I found the name of my great-grandmother (just 12 years old) on the same page as Caroline Jones and Laura Walker. So my family lived just a few houses away from the Jones family.
Jones Family Cemetery
If you visit Holliday Lake State Park, take a moment to visit with the Jones girls who keep watch over the lake, behind the concession stand. It’s only fitting that we pay our respects to those who have gone before us. We can imagine them playing along Holliday Creek and helping with the farm chores.
Read more about Holliday Lake State Park's history here.
Drive Time: Northern Virginia, three and a half hours; Richmond, two hours; Tidewater/Norfolk/Virginia Beach, four hours; Roanoke, two hours. Click here for a map.