New proof added to Eakle genealogy tradition…

The Augusta County Virginia Heritage Book landed on the new book shelf of the Family History Library, Salt Lake City UT, this week.  And since our Eakle family residedin Augusta County Virginia before they left for Utah in the 1880’s, I made a beeline for the volume.  Yup!  I knew it all along!

When Alma and I went to Virginia for the first time, we interviewed relatives still living in the local community where his family came from.  We were told that the Johnson/Johnston grandfather had been buried under the corner of the Laurel Hill Church.  We visited the church and the attached graveyard without finding a stone or any evidence that the tradition was correct, except…

We learned that the side of the church had been expanded and a parking lot had been added, which took up part of the old graveyard.  So the tradition could be true.  John Johnson, father of Mary Jane Johnson, could be buried under the corner of the addition on the church. 

In the Augusta CountyVirginia Heritage Book, was this magical paragraph:

It remained a mystery as to why Margaret “Peggy” was not buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery.  The land had been given 7 years before the church and the deed was not recorded until 9 July 1854 at a cost of $1.25.  Unless, it was because the Eagles Meeting House and school were a branch of Friedens Church in Rockingham County.  Being a reformed denomination.  The following clears up the mystery.

On doing more research into the Laurel Hill Church the first time a cemetery is mentioned was Aug. 9 1879.  It dates back to 1872 when 1/2 acre was given by Henry K. and Mary Jane Johnson Eakle on 27 Feb 1872 for the purpose of a cemetery.  It was not until 1889 that the lots were laid out.

It had been said that Margaret “Peggy” Leedy had been buried in the corner of a corn field.  This saying would be correct, but there had been the Eagle Church and school here, in years past.  There was a road that went by this church and an old fence that intersected this road which made the church sit in a corner of the field.  This is proven with the plot according to the Barnhart Family History.  Also the Augusta County Court records.  This church and cemetery are no longer and the cattle have just ruined it and no stone could be found.

These lines are found on page 183, in the Leedy Family Sketch, Part 1.

The Eagle Church and Cemetery wereoriginally located on the John Baker Eakle land, which bordered the Laurel Hill Church property.  We were told the Church had been dedicated to the Church of the Brethren.  On page 45 of the Heritage Book, the Eagle Church is described as being owned jointly by the Reformed and Lutherans and that it was associated with Friedens Church.  It was created to shorten the distancemembers had to travel to attend church services.

The cemetery originally held over 45 graves and although the church was called the Eggel Church, it was a community place of worship.  And persons within the community were also buried there.

When Alma and I visited, we found parts of 8 tombstones.  Some were whole, others were broken and had to be pieced together.  For the cattle roamed through the property without restriction. We photographed these stone remnants.

When my son, John was 12 years old, I took him to Virginia to discover his Eakle ancestry.  And we visited that little cemetery again. Only one stone remained intact–that of Catherine Eakle, second wife of John Baker Eakle and mother of Henry Kennedy Eakle.  She died 14 March 1834, age 46 years and three months.  So the births and deaths in the Heritage Book are about all that now survives. 

It was raining.  The soft dirt around the stones where the cattle had churned it up over and over again sucked our boots deep into the mire.  I got a tire iron from the car boot to see if John and I could move the stone out of harm’s way.  Although it was a small stone, it was too heavy for us both.  We had to leave it there for the cattle to trod on.

Henry Kennedy Eakle was Alma’s great grandfather.  He emigrated to Utah with his family in the 1880’s on the overland train.  Several years later, he returned to Virginia to collect his genealogy.  He spent four years gathering names and dates of his relatives.  He also became very ill and died in Virginia.  He was laid to rest in a small graveyard near Grottoes.  And the rest of his family are buried in Utah. 

Until today, we did not know that the land where Laurel Hill graveyard lies was Eakle land.  What a magical thing to learn.  And to be able to document the burial place of Mary Jane Johnson’s father John on the same land.  Very cool!

The Eggel Church (Eakle Church) was also called Round Hill Meeting House.  In the Diary of Lee Johnson, a descendant of John Johnson in Murtaugh Idaho, Lee described the location of the Middle River in relationship to Laurel Hill Church and to the Round Hill Meetinghouse.  When it rained the river rose. They could not attend church at either place–these churches were on the opposite side of the river from the house.           

Your favorite Virginia genealogist, Arlene Eakle

PS  I have a new computer and a new phone system.  My email can receive, I just can’t send anything out–yet.   Unknowingly, I wrote over 30 emails before I left for the Family History Expo in Houston TX in early April.  And I won’t be home until tomorrow night.  We’ll repair the problem on Monday and I should be able to send the emails out.  I just can’t access them yet.  Will I ever learn the tech?



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