Historic Lexington Foundation is spearheading a community project focused on maintaining, researching, and disseminating information about cemeteries in the Lexington and Rockbridge County areas. Our first initiative involves removing vegetation and documenting headstones at the historic McDowell Cemetery on Route 11 near Fairfield. Stones in the cemetery mark the resting places of early, prominent historic settlers including Captain John McDowell who died during a conflict with Iroquois traveling through the area in 1742. Volunteers from HLF, Washington and Lee University, Virginia Military Institute, the Garden Club of Virginia, and the Colonial Dames have contributed funds, time, and effort to the McDowell Cemetery project. First steps involved removing small trees, onions, thistles, briars and other weeds that had taken hold in the cemetery. We plan next to undertake a census of stones that survive, as over the years root mat and sediment have buried many, and to involve W&L Geology to use remote sensing technologies such as ground-penetrating radar to document the location of gravestones no longer visible on the land surface. The McDowell Cemetery is on private property; permission from the landowner is required to visit.
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