What was once a lovely white framed farmhouse sitting on a sloping hillside nestled in the back country of Carroll County, Va., is now showing the ravages of time. One cannot see more than 10 feet into the darkness of the pines now encroaching the front porch. The then-groomed rose bush drive leading up to the farmhouse now encases the visitor in a tunnel.
This was our greeting as we approached the once lovely home of Ilas and Ida Nichols.
My great-uncle Clarence I. Montgomery, now in his 80s, had guided us here where he had spent many a summer as a boy with his uncle and aunt. Uncle Clarence remembered that a small gate near the back of the home and a path had led to a small, well-kept cemetery on the hill.
My husband, Vaughn, and I had a personal quest to identify the burial sites of my family. In the spring of 1999, Uncle Clarence had traveled with us to this old farm and indicated the direction behind the home where the cemetery was located. My husband and I returned a week later. The overgrowth on the steep slope was tremendous. When Vaughn turned to go in another direction, I noticed his back was covered with wood ticks. We spent the next two hours de-ticking ourselves and left very disappointed.
The following November we returned, this time with Uncle Clarence, who agreed to walk with us. He was our only hope of finding what we so desperately desired. The slope was steep for him, but some of the growth had diminished in the late fall, making the trek for each of us a little easier.
I noticed an old wire fence lying on the ground in the bushes. I called out to Uncle Clarence. He appeared quickly, and Vaughn came rushing over. Both had been quietly praying we would find the graves.
We stepped inside the crumpled fence line. There they were: old tombstones protruding slightly through the layers of debris, fallen trees and thick vines. What joy filled my heart to be standing at the burial ground of my ancestors! Tombstones were uncovered, documented and photographed.
Our desire now is to see to it that the cemetery is cleaned, fenced and maintained. We will also see that the Genealogical Club and Society in Carroll County is notified of the cemetery's existence. How blessed we were to receive answers to prayers that cool, fall day in Virginia. Jeanie Hansen, Cottonwood 12th Ward, Murray Utah Little Cottonwood Stake
Another in a series of "Family History Moments."
Illustration by John Clark