Christ Church Cemetery

Dr. James Carson, a War of 1812 Veteran recently honored for his service!

Dr. James Carson, buried in Christ Church Cemetery (1773 – September 9, 1855), was a War of 1812 Veteran recently honored for his service by National Society United States Daughters of 1812 members.

During the War of 1812, he was a 1st Lieutenant in the Alexandria Artillery, commanded by Greenberry Griffith (May 20, 1787 – October 25, 1848). He fought at the Battle of the White House under the command of General Robert Young. Later he was a customs officer (appointed by President Andrew Jackson), a Magistrate for Alexandria County (appointed by President James Monroe), the Superintendent of Police, and an Inspector of the Harbor (appointed in 1829). Carson also commanded the civic escort at the opening of the Alexandria Canal. He was also the Mason Secretary and Worshipful Master of Brooke Lodge No. 47.

When Lafayette visited Alexandria on October 16, 1824, he led the civic escort – which included 17-year-old Robert E. Lee – for Lafayette when he visited Washington’s tomb (also see Anthony Charles Cazenove). Lafayette stays in Dr. Carson’s sister, Elizabeth Lawrason’s, home during the visit. The city council gave Mrs. Laweason a silver cup in recognition of her generous hospitality.

Inaccurate picture of Lafayette at Washington’s Tomb during his October 1824 visit. The painting by Nathaniel Currie, which dates to 1845, is of the new tomb where the remains of Washington and 19 other family members were moved in 1831.

Member and company commander of the Friendship Fire Company

According to Catherine Weinraub, Historian, Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association, he was also a member of the Friendship Fire Company from 1810 – 1845. Nineteen of those years, he was one of the company’s commanders. On November 17, 1857, Secretary John Muir said Carson “owned the fireman’s cape that so long graced our hall.” 1T. Michael Carter. Ph.D. Forming a More Perfect Community: An Early History of the Friendship Fire Company.Alexandria History Quarterly. Summer 2002. Published by the Office of Historic Alexandria. Pg. 4.

Friendship Fire House circa 1910. Image provided by Catherine Weinraub, Historian, Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association.

Officer in Alexandria’s Hibernian Society

He was also a member of Alexandria’s Hibernian Society and an officer in the fraternal society, created to support immigrants from Ireland, where Dr. Carson was born.

Announcement about the Hibernian Society meeting in the Alexandria Gazette March 19, 1840 edition, where Dr. James Carson was elected Vice President for the year.

Dr. Carson’s family

Carson married Usula Brown (1762 – June 2, 1835), also of Ireland, sometime before 1808. The Carsons had several children, including Ann Carson Green (May 4, 1808 – 1835), Jane Carson Gahan (March 9, 1810 – August 30, 1876), Samuel B. Carson ( February 4, 1812 – July 1840); Elizabeth Carson Roach (March 5, 1814 – February 21, 1853),  John Brown Carson ( May 21, 1816 – November 1, 1860), and Elenor Virginia Carson (April 14, 1819 – June 1820).

According to family historian and descendant Claire Bennett, Samuel and William Daingerfield, also of Alexandria, left Virginia and went to Texas, where he and William joined the Texas Republic Army. Unfortunately, Samuel died in a tragic accident in 1840.

Announcement of the death of Captain Samuel Carson in the September 8, 1840, Alexandria, Gazette. Note the words Alexandria, D.C., at the top of the announcement. Alexandria was a part of the District of Columbia (D.C.) from 1791 – 1847.

Daughter Ann married Edward Greene, a tax collector in the port of Alexandria, on December 20, 1827. One of their two children, J. Cason Greene, was killed in the November 17, 1855, Dowell China Shop fire at 203 King Street along with six other Alexandria Volunteer firefighters (see also George David AppichWilliam EvansJames W. Keene, and Robert I. Taylor, all buried in the Wilkes Street Complex). Losing her father and son within two months devastated Ann.

The tragic Dowell China Shop Fire

From the Alexandria Gazette
20 Nov 1855, Tue · Page 3. Notice the missing “e” at the end of the last name of Greene in the article. The Rev. Dr. Harrison, one of the pastors who led Green’s service, is buried in The Presbyterian Cemetery.

His name and six others are on the Firefighters Memorial in Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria, Virginia. Each October, during Fire Prevention Week, their names and other fallen firefighters are read aloud during a service at the monument. Green’s burial place in Christ Church Episcopal is unknown. He could be buried in the Friendship Fire House plot E:60 in the Methodist Protestant Cemetery. His brother, Louis Edward Greene (October 16, 1828 – June 23, 1871), is buried in Christ Church Cemetery, Lot 5:2.

Buried in Christ Church Cemetery

Dr. Carson, his wife, and several family members are buried along the cemetery border and Mandeville Lane, which separates the Christ Church Cemetery from nearby Trinty Methodist Cemetery.

Although not an Alexandria Masonic Lodge 22 member, Dr. Carson participated in many of their activities as a “visitor.” In recognition of such, Lodge 22, Washington’s lodge, performed Masonic ceremonies at his burial, just as they did at the funeral of General George Washington on December 18, 1799.

Honored by the National Society United States Daughters of 1812

On Saturday, June 3, 2023, Dr. James Carson was honored by National Society United States Daughters of 1812 members, Eliza Monroe Chapter 355, who laid wreaths and marked his grave with a War of 1812 medallion in grateful recognition of his sacrifice and service to the country.

Dr. James Carson’s gravestone on Saturday, June 3, 2023, following a Grave Marking and Wreath Laying Ceremony by the Eliza Monroe Chapter of the National Society United States Daughters of 1812. Image courtesy of family historian and descendant Claire Bennett
in memory of
a native of the county of Armagh, Ireland
who died September 9th, 1855
also his wife
a native of the county Armagh, 
who died June 3rd, 1835
in the 53d year of her age

Sources of Information

Moore, Gay Montague. Seaport in Virginia George Washington’s Alexandria. Richmond, Virginia. Garrett and Massie, Incorporated. 1949.

Pippenger, Wesley E. Tombstone Inscriptions of Alexandria, VA (Volume 3). Family Line Publications. Westminster, Maryland. 1992.

Powell, Mary Gregory. Index by Pippenger, Wesley E. The History of Old Alexandria, VA, from July 13, 1749 – May 24, 1861. Westminster, Maryland, Willow Bend Books. 2000.

Clark, Charles S. George Washington Parke Custis. A Rarefield Life in America’s First Family. McFarland & Company, Inc. Jefferson, North Carolina. 2021.

Bennett, Claire. Descendant of Dr. James Carson. Selected notes on the Carson family. 2023.

Wienraub, Catherine. Historian, Ivy Hill Historical Society, and The Friendship Fire House. Selected notes on The Dowell China Shop Fire, the Friendship Fire House, and Ivy Hill. 2023

  • 1
    T. Michael Carter. Ph.D. Forming a More Perfect Community: An Early History of the Friendship Fire Company.Alexandria History Quarterly. Summer 2002. Published by the Office of Historic Alexandria. Pg. 4.
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By David

Hello. With a passion for bringing history to life, I serve my community as a public historian and cemetery superintendent. My journey has led me to own businesses, conduct Civil War battlefield tours and research Alexandria’s cemeteries.

Since 2015, I have had the privilege of serving as Superintendent of the historic Presbyterian Cemetery and Columbarium, located within Alexandria's Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex. The Presbyterian Cemetery has close ties to the Old Presbyterian Meeting House, situated one mile east, where my family has worshipped for two generations. My parents are laid to rest in this cemetery, which holds a special place in my heart.

Most weekends, you can find me leading tours of the Wilkes Street Cemetery Complex, where thirteen cemeteries are located, with over 35,000 buried. Considered one of the most historic cluster of cemeteries in the United States, I weave my enthusiasm for teaching with the stories of those interred there. I also manage a blog focused on all the cemeteries in Alexandria where the many souls buried across the city are memorialized.

In addition, I'm an active Board Member of both the Alexandria Historical Society and Lee-Fendall House Museum. As part of the Northern Virginia Cemetery Consortium, I diligently preserve endangered burial sites throughout the region.

If Alexandria’s history captivates you, I invite you to join one of my cemetery tours, read my blog on memorializing souls buried across the city’s cemeteries, or connect with me on social media. I find joy and purpose in bringing Alexandria’s rich past to life and serving my community.

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