Alexandria Cemeteries Photos

Explore captivating photos from our Alexandria, Virginia, cemetery tours, focusing on the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex. Our collection highlights historical tours, memorable talks, and ceremonial events like Wreaths Across America and Flag-In Day. Join one of our guided tours for an immersive experience that brings to life Alexandria’s rich history and its ancestors’ stories.


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2024

Gravestone Stories Owner Leads Alexandria Archaeology Commission on Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex Tour

On Wednesday, June 12, 2024, David Heiby, owner of Gravestone Stories, had the privilege of leading the Alexandria Archaeology Commission (AAC) on a “walkabout” of the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex. The purpose of the tour was to gather information as the commission explores the possibility of obtaining state and federal historical registration for the entire complex.

Gravestone Stories owner David Heiby stands with members of the Alexandria Archaeology Commission in the historic Douglas Cemetery on Wednesday, June 12, 2024, before beginning their “walkabout” of the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex. The purpose of the tour was to gather information as the commission explores the possibility of obtaining state and federal historical registration for the entire complex.

During the walkabout, the group also visited the historic Meigs Lodge located within the Alexandria National Cemetery. VFW Post 609 Commander Jerry Krueger graciously opened the lodge for the tour.

Gravestone Stories owner David Heiby shows members of the Alexandria Archaeology Commission (AAC) the graves of four civilian Quartermaster Department employees buried in the Alexandria National Cemetery. These men lost their lives on the night of April 24, 1865, during the pursuit of John Wilkes Booth and David Herold, two members of the Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy. A total of 87 men drowned that fateful night, but only four bodies were recovered and laid to rest in this cemetery—photo by Jerry Krueger.

Registering the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex as either a state or federal historic district could provide opportunities for obtaining grants and other funding. These resources would be used to enhance the visitor experience by placing informative signage throughout the complex and making other improvements.

Gravestone Stories owner David Heiby points out the grave of Fields Cook, a notable Baptist minister, Republican Party leader, educator, and advocate for the rights of African Americans during the 19th century, to members of the Alexandria Archaeology Commission (AAC) during their tour of the Bethel Cemetery within the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex.
As a minister and political organizer, Cook actively fought for the rights of freedpeople. He represented Richmond City at the Convention of the Colored People of Virginia in 1865, where he stood firm against racist threats. Cook’s unwavering commitment to equality and his leadership in the African American community made him a prominent figure in the struggle for civil rights during the Reconstruction era—photo by Dr. Eleanor Breen.

Mr. Heiby was honored to have the opportunity to lead this fact-finding tour for the Alexandria Archaeology Commission.


Former President Barack Obama Joins Alexandria Community for Moving “Flags-in-Ground” Ceremony at Alexandria National Cemetery

The 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, silently pays his respects to a soldier buried in the Alexandria National Cemetery.

On Saturday, May 25th, 2024, the Alexandria National Cemetery was the site of a moving community event called “Flags-in-Ground,” where small American flags and flowers were placed at each of the 4,300 graves to honor the fallen heroes who served our nation. The flowers were generously donated by The National Memorial Day Flowers Foundation, adding a touch of beauty and solemnity to the occasion.

In this image, a portion of the beautiful flowers donated by The National Memorial Day Flowers Foundation can seen before being placed on graves in the Alexandria National Cemetery. As part of the “Flags-in-Ground” ceremony, these flowers were placed on each of the 4,300 graves, creating a stunning display of color and a touching tribute to the fallen heroes. The National Memorial Day Flowers Foundation’s generous contribution beautified the cemetery and served as a poignant reminder of the brave men and women who made sacrifices there.
In addition to donating to Alexandria National Cemetery, The National Memorial Day Flowers Foundation also provides flowers for the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, extending its mission to honor and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. This gesture of respect and gratitude ensures that the memory of our fallen soldiers is kept alive and that their service is never forgotten.

This year’s event was made even more special by the presence of a distinguished guest, former President of the United States, Obama. President Obama joined volunteers and community members in paying tribute to the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. He spent an hour at the cemetery, placing flags and flowers at over 200 graves, demonstrating his deep respect for those who have served.

In this poignant image, former President Barack Obama solemnly places an American flag at the gravestone of a fallen American soldier during the “Flags-in-Ground” ceremony at Alexandria National Cemetery on Saturday, May 25, 2024. President Obama, demonstrating his deep respect for those who have served and sacrificed for our nation, personally placed more than 200 flags throughout the cemetery, joining volunteers and community members in honoring the brave men and women laid to rest there. His presence and participation in this moving tribute were a powerful reminder of the immeasurable debt we owe to those who have given their lives in service to the United States.

David Heiby, the owner and operator of Gravestone Stories, was on hand to support VFW Post 609, the event coordinator and sponsor. The Zebra, a local news organization, and ABC News later featured stories about President Obama’s attendance, highlighting the significance of his presence and the importance of the event. Click here to read The Zebra’s article.

In this heartwarming image, local scouts participate in the “Flags-in-Ground” ceremony at Alexandria National Cemetery, surrounded by the beautiful flowers donated by The National Memorial Day Flowers Foundation. The scouts’ presence demonstrates the community’s commitment to honoring the nation’s fallen heroes and ensuring their legacy is passed down to future generations.
Among the crowd on the right-hand side of the image stands former President Barack Obama, who joined the scouts and other volunteers in placing flags and flowers at the graves of the brave men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. President Obama’s participation in this moving tribute underscores the importance of remembering and honoring those who have served, and his presence adds to the gravity and significance of the occasion. The image captures a powerful moment of unity, respect, and gratitude as the Alexandria community comes together to pay homage to the fallen and celebrate the enduring spirit of American heroism.

The “Flags-in-Ground” event at Alexandria National Cemetery served as a powerful reminder of the sacrifices made by our nation’s heroes and the enduring commitment of the Alexandria community to honor their memory. The presence of President Obama added to the gravity and significance of the occasion, making it a truly unforgettable experience for all those who participated.

In this moving image, American flags and flowers grace the graves of Union soldiers in Alexandria National Cemetery following the “Flags-in-Ground” ceremony on Saturday, May 25, 2024. The section captured in the photograph is dedicated to soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in 1863 during the height of the American Civil War. The neat rows of flags and the delicate beauty of the flowers create a powerful visual testament to the bravery and dedication of these fallen heroes, who gave their lives to preserve the Union and end slavery. More than 150 years after their passing, the Alexandria community continues to honor their memory and ensure their service and sacrifice are never forgotten. The annual “Flags-in-Ground” event serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring impact of the Civil War and the debt of gratitude we owe to those who fought and died for the cause of freedom.

In a short speech, President Obama emphasized the importance of remembering and honoring those who gave their lives for the United States. His words resonated with all those in attendance, reinforcing the sense of gratitude and respect that permeated the ceremony.

President Barack Obama at the microphone on Saturday, May 25, 2024 addressing the crowd at Alexandria National Cemetery before he helped place flags and flowers on soldiers graves.

We are grateful to VFW Post 609, The National Memorial Day Flowers Foundation, and all the volunteers who made this event possible, and we are honored to have played a role in supporting this meaningful tribute. As we reflect on the lives of those laid to rest in Alexandria National Cemetery, we are reminded of the immeasurable debt we owe to those who have served and sacrificed for our nation.

Donna Harrison, VFW Post 609 Commander Jerry Krueger, Gravestone Stories owner and Alexandria historian David Heiby, and his wife Christine pose together at the moving “Flags-in-Ground” ceremony held at Alexandria National Cemetery on Saturday, May 25, 2024. The event, which honored the nation’s fallen heroes, brought together members of the Alexandria community to place American flags and flowers at each of the 4,300 graves, creating a powerful display of gratitude and remembrance.

National Funeral Directors Association Wreath Laying Ceremony in the Alexandria National Cemetery

The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) placed the wreath during a ceremony at Alexandria National Cemetery on March 22, 2024.

On March 22, 2024, a private wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Alexandria National Cemetery to commemorate and honor all buried within. The event was hosted by the owner of Gravestone Stories, the Superintendent of The Presbyterian Cemetery, with assistance from VFW Lodge 609 members who meet in the historic Meigs Lodge in ANC. Catherine Weinraub, historian for Ivy Hill (located on upper King Street) and Home of Peace Cemetery, also contributed to the event.

NFDA President Dutch Nie, who also serves as the Commander of VFW Post 423 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, delivers his Words of Tribute during the Wreath Laying Ceremony held on March 22, 2024, at The Alexandria National Cemetery.

The ceremony was attended by NFDA Advocacy Summit attendees who had just concluded two days of meetings with their elected representatives on Capitol Hill. President Dutch Nie stated in his Words of Tribute and Remembrance, “We are here this morning to remember those who served so that we might always appreciate the price that is paid for the freedoms we enjoy.”

Photograph of Lori Crandall, an accomplished bugler, who played Taps during the National Funeral Directors Association wreath-laying ceremony at The Alexandria National Cemetery on March 22, 2024. Crandall is pictured wearing a meticulously hand-crafted WWII-era WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) uniform, paying homage to the women who served in the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II. As a member of Taps for Veterans, Crandall has played Taps at various prominent events, including Honor Flight Chicago at the WWII Memorial and the daily sounding of Taps at the National WWI Memorial for the Doughboy Foundation.

A wonderful highlight of the ceremony was when Alexandrian Lori Crandall played Taps after the wreath was presented, with the sound echoing through the historic national cemetery. Following the ceremony’s conclusion, historians Heiby and Weinraub led NFDA members on a walking tour of the Wilkes Street Complex.

Taps being played after the laying of the wreath at the NFDA event in the Alexandria National Cemetery, Alexandria, VA


Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution Honor Revolutionary War Patriots at The Presbyterian Cemetery & Columbarium

On March 16, 2024, the Sons of the American Revolution Fairfax Resolves and George Washington chapters participated in a Grave Marking Ceremony at The Presbyterian Cemetery & Columbarium in The Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex. During the service, markers were dedicated and unveiled at the family plots of Robert Adam (1731-1789), who signed the Fairfax Resolves 250 years ago on July 18, 1774; David Black (1762-1831) was a drummer boy in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th New York Regiments, and John Dundas (1759-1813) served as an officer in Philadelpis’s City Militia 1st Battalion, then 3rd Company, 2nd Battalion and finally as a Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion.

Color Guard opening the Grave Marking Ceremony.

Watch the Color Guard present colors from the D.A.R., S.A.R., and other organizations at the beginning of the March 16, 2024 Grave Marking Ceremony. This video showcases the event’s respectful and traditional opening, highlighting these groups’ commitment to honoring history and values. The ceremony connected the past and present by unveiling a plaque commemorating historical individuals.

The photograph showcases a tasteful and understated plaque dedicated to John Dundas, a patriot who served in various capacities during the Revolutionary War. The plaque, situated within the serene grounds of The Presbyterian Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia’s Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, pays tribute to Dundas’s contributions to the fight for American independence. The simple yet elegant design of the marker reflects the humble nature of the men and women who sacrificed so much for their country, reminding visitors of the enduring legacy of those who fought for freedom. Dundas is SAR Patriot # P-151153 in the SAR database.

The ceremony was attended by numerous other S.A.R. Chapters, including Colonel William Grayson and the Culpeper Minutemen Chapters, as well as Daughters of the American Revolution Chapters such as Ann Maria Fitzhugh, Dr. Elisha Cullen Dick, Fairfax County, George Mason, Henry Clay, John Alexander, Kate Waller Barrett, Lane’s Mill, Nelly Custis, and the Prince William Resolves Chapters. The William Byrd Society of the Children of the American Revolution and members of the Virginia Chapter of the Descendants of Valley Forge were also present.

The photograph captures a newly unveiled plaque in the Adam family plot, honoring Robert Adam, a signatory of the Fairfax Resolves 250 years ago on July 18, 1774. The plaque’s engraved words pay tribute to Adam’s courageous act, which laid the groundwork for American independence. Set within the family plot, the image invites reflection on the sacrifices made by those who fought for the nation’s founding principles. Adam is SAR Patriot #: P-347048 in the SAR database. 

Attendees included members of the Board Directors of The Presbyterian Cemetery and Columbarium, cemetery volunteers, and the cemetery Superintendent and Gravestone Stories owner, David Heiby.

In this photograph, David Heiby, the Presbyterian Cemetery Superintendent and owner of Gravestone Stories, addresses the audience during the Grave Marking Ceremony for Revolutionary War patriots Robert Adam, David Black, and John Dundas. He takes a moment to acknowledge and express gratitude to the volunteers whose dedication and efforts were instrumental in making the event successful. The image captures the spirit of community and the shared commitment to honoring and preserving the memory of these historical figures.

The weather was spectacular, and many of the historic cemetery’s trees were in full bloom, including its Virginia State Champion Tulip Magnolia, which is said to be over 150 years old.

Captured by Superintendent Heiby, this stunning image showcases the majestic Tulip Magnolia, recognized as Virginia’s State Champion Tree, proudly standing within the Presbyterian Cemetery of the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex.

The mission of the S.A.R., founded in 1889, and the D.A.R., founded one year later in 1890, is to promote patriotism, serve communities, and educate and inspire future generations about the founding principles of our Country. The Presbyterian Cemetery and Columbarium in The Wilkes Street Complex is the final resting place of more patriots of the war than any other cemetery in Virginia.

This stone marks the final resting place of Captain David Black, a young patriot who served as a drummer boy in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th New York Regiments during the Revolutionary War. Despite the passage of time, the headstone is a silent testament to Captain Black’s bravery and sacrifice, reminding visitors of the vital role that even the youngest individuals played in securing America’s independence. The simple yet poignant marker invites reflection on the enduring legacy of those who fought for the nation’s founding principles. Black is SAR Patriot #P-115401 in the SAR database. 

As the ceremony concluded, several volunteers who made the event possible were given recognition awards, including Olivia Michener, representing The Presbyterian Cemetery and Columbarium; David Heiby, Gravestone Stories owner and Presbyterian Cemetery Superintendent; Mark Ludlow, who contributed his services and expertise by conducting Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) on the three family plots of those honored (read this interesting article for more information); Sue Ellen Morgan for her assistance during the GPR; and Maria and Jonathan Davis for their support during the GPR and also for spending hours cleaning the gravestones with D/2 before the ceremony along with adding patriotic bunting.


Honoring Revolutionary War Patriots on President’s Day 2024 in Alexandria

On President’s Day 2024, a commemorative event was held to pay tribute to the brave American patriots of the Revolutionary War. This solemn occasion featured a wreath-laying ceremony at the tomb of an Unknown Soldier from the Revolutionary War, situated in the historical 18th-century cemetery of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Old Town Alexandria, VA. The ceremony was followed by insightful tours led by David Heiby, the proprietor of Gravestone Stories. Heiby, also a member of the Meeting House and responsible for the stewardship of its historic cemetery within the [Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex], is widely regarded as an authority on Alexandria’s burial sites. During the tours, Heiby shared fascinating narratives about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and notable figures such as Dr. James Craik, John Carlyle, Lewis Nicola, The Reverend Dr. James Muir, William Hunter, and Dr. Robert Creighton. Please visit [The Historic Presbyterian Burial Ground] for more detailed accounts of these historical figures. Click the button below to view a video about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolutionary War.


A Snowy Day Conversation: Dr. James Craik and George Washington’s Lifelong Friendship

On a snowy January day in Northern Virginia, David Heiby, the owner of Gravestone Stories and a Public Historian, shared an enlightening discussion with a local chapter of the Colonial Dames of America. The topic of conversation was Dr. James Craik, a lifelong friend and physician to George Washington, with their enduring friendship spanning 45 years. Dr. Craik rests in the Old Presbyterian Meeting House’s burial grounds, next to the historic 19th-century sanctuary.

For more insights into the life of Dr. Craik, click here.


2023

From Alexandria to Arlington: Tracing Civil War History in America’s National Cemeteries

The photograph captures a Gravestone Stories guided tour in the Alexandria National Cemetery, established in 1862. This cemetery is recognized as the second oldest National Cemetery in the United States. In May 1864, when it reached capacity, Federal authorities began interring war casualties at what is now known as Arlington National Cemetery, situated just a short distance north of the Alexandria National Cemetery.

Click here to learn more about The Alexandria National Cemetery


Wreaths Across Alexandria National Cemetery 2023

On a chilly winter Saturday, December 16th, 2023, nearly 2000 people gathered at the historic Alexandria National Cemetery for the annual Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremony. Volunteers of all ages, bundled up against the cold, carried evergreen wreaths and spread out across the cemetery’s 145-year-old grounds. With heartfelt reverence, they placed remembrance wreaths at the headstones of over 4200 service members buried there, paying tribute to their sacrifices.

While the cemetery’s primary residents are Union soldiers from the Civil War, hailing from loyal northern states, it has also become the final resting place for around 500 individuals, including veterans from later conflicts and their spouses, after the war ended.

This event continued Alexandria National Cemetery’s longstanding legacy. Since its establishment in 1862 as the nation’s second oldest national cemetery, it has served as a place for reflection, remembrance, and the honorable recognition of our military veterans and their service.


Unveiling History: David Heiby’s Presentation on The Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex to the Daughters of the American Revolution, September 2023

David Heiby, a Public Historian, presented to a local DAR chapter in September 2023 about Alexandria’s historic Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex – in active use since its 1796 founding.

The photo shows Heiby’s slide highlighting Sydney Smith Lee’s grave in Christ Church Cemetery, where Lee’s brother-in-law, James Murray Mason, is also buried. Smith Lee rests alongside his wife Nannie, James Murray Mason’s sister.

Read more about the origins of The Wilkes Street Complex


Honoring the Fallen on Flag In Day at Alexandria National Cemetery

On Flag In Day, May 27th, 2023, the Alexandria community honored those laid to rest at the historic Alexandria National Cemetery. Participants placed flowers at gravesites across the burial grounds, which serve as the final resting place for veterans spanning decades of service from the Civil War to the present day.

Established in 1862 as the second oldest federal military cemetery in the United States, Alexandria National Cemetery contains over 4,200 gravesites holding Union soldiers who perished during the Civil War’s Eastern campaigns. The cemetery conducts a solemn flag placement ceremony each Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day. Flag In Day offers members of the Alexandria community an opportunity to continue this powerful tribute in advance of Memorial Day, decorating headstones with bouquets as a token of remembrance and gratitude for the sacrifices made.


Connecting Past and Present: Gunston Hall Docents Uncover Mason Family History at Wilkes Street Complex

On May 11, 2023, George Mason’s Gunston Hall docents visited the Wilkes Street Complex. Their tour included a deep dive into the Christ Church Cemetery, where they learned about the final resting places of over two dozen Mason family members—a memorable moment occurred when Gravestone Stories owner David Heiby met his 11th-grade history teacher after 47 years. During the tour, Heiby shared the history of James Murray Mason, the grandson of George Mason. James was notably involved in drafting the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act and played a significant role in the Trent Affair of November 1861. This event nearly escalated into a war between Great Britain and the United States.

Learn more about James Murray Mason


Journey Through History: Arlington Neighborhood Village Explores the Wilkes Street Complex

Members and friends of the Arlington Neighborhood Village embarked on a tour of the Wilkes Street Complex to uncover the histories of those laid to rest there. The tour guide narrated the life of Thomas Tretcher, a capable seaman who took part in Captain Cook’s Third voyage, leading to the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands and the Bering Strait. In his later years, Tretcher commanded merchant ships based in Alexandria.

Explore the untold tale of Thomas Tretcher


2022

Honoring Alexandria National Cemetery Heroes: Wreaths Across America 2022

These photos capture scenes from the annual Wreaths Across America event held in December 2022 at the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex. Over 1500 attendees gathered on a chilly Saturday morning to pay respects and place ceremonial wreaths at the more than 4,200 grave sites in the Alexandria National Cemetery. Wreath sponsors and volunteers alike braved the cold as they solemnly adorned the headstones of veterans, honoring those who served our nation to protect our freedoms. The wreath-laying ceremony unites the community in remembering Alexandria’s military heroes throughout the ages who now lay at rest in this historic burial ground dating back to the Civil War.


September 2022: Uncovering History at Wilkes Street Cemetery – The Lee-Fendall House Story

Friends of the Lee-Fendall House Museum and Garden embarked on a tour of the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, exploring the resting places and uncovering the real-life stories of those connected to the historic house built in 1785 by Phillip Richard Fendall I. The tour highlighted individuals like Phillip Richard Fendall II, who grew up in the house; the family of Edmond Jennings Lee, residents of the 1840s; Louis and Harriot Cazenove, who renovated the house in 1850; and the Fleming and Downham families, who inhabited the house at different periods. Accompanying the narrative is an image of the Gravestone Stories guide at the John Fowle monument, marking the resting place of a Cazenove family member who perished in a devastating steamboat explosion on the Ohio River on April 25, 1838.

Delve into the fascinating history of Hariott and Louis Cazenove


A Walk Through History: Celebrating 250 Years of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House – June 25, 2022

Members and friends of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House commemorated the 250th anniversary of their congregation with a walking tour of The Presbyterian Cemetery. This event highlighted the final resting places of numerous notable individuals, including acquaintances of George Washington, heroes from the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, former pastors spanning two centuries, and other significant figures who had once frequented the historic sanctuary in Old Town.

Explore the stories of those mentioned during the tour


Rainy-Day Resilience: Exploring the Wilkes Street Complex in Challenging Weather

On May 1, 2022, despite the downpour, a tour of the Wilkes Street Complex took place. We try to conduct our tours even when the weather doesn’t cooperate. On this particular tour, over 15 attendees bravely endured the elements. During the tour, Gravestone Stories’ owner and tour guide, Public Historian David Heiby, shared the intriguing tale of the Female Stranger. Her grave is among the most visited in Alexandria.

Read more about the Female Stranger.


Exploring the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex: A Veterans Day 2019 Tour


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