It was very cold and very windy on November 21, 2008, when my son Bobby and I went out to Pleasant Gap looking for a graveyard. We do our paperwork and have great success finding the old places we are looking for. This day was no exception.
Thomas Wingfield Walton (1806-1879), a grandson of Lt. Jesse Walton, sold a tract of 478 acres at Pleasant Gap in 1866. This gap is where the Franklin Turnpike (SR 41) cuts through the White Oak Mountain range. This is a Triassic age outcropping of mountains, which is said to be formed some 200 million years ago, give or take a million. There is scattered petrified wood along the southern slopes of the mountains. Most of my favorite places for finding the ancient wood, turned rock, now have houses fairly close together.
I found a deed about 15 years ago of this 1866 sale. I located a small map which showed the intersection of the Franklin Turnpike and the “Mountain Road” (SR 835), which runs northeast to Dry Fork and on to Chatham (Pittsylvania Courthouse). From this intersection to the summit where searched this day is 600 yards or about a third of a mile. In this short distance, the incline rises 200 feet to an elevation of 1,023 feet above sea level. One property line, of which I could determine the approximate location, mentioned a point near a summit, which was near the “burying ground.”
We drove up an old farm road towards the summit, which is due east of the gap where the Franklin Turnpike cuts through. We zigzagged through the woods for hundreds of feet up toward the top of the mountain. Before we reached the top, Bobby yelled out something like, “There they are!” There were a number of fieldstones, which were placed at the head, and foot of the graves.
Here is Bobby at one of the graves on top of a summit (1,023 feet above sea level) of the White Oak Mountain range. Note the sharp drop off in the back ground to the north east. In this short distance, we believe there was a small cabin where the family lived. Between US 29 and SR 41 north of SR 863 (R & L Smith Drive) there are four high points. The highest is 1,140 feet above sea level.
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These rocks between the graves and the drop off are about 16 feet apart and we believe might be part of the chimney and foundation stones of a cabin. A typical early pioneer cabin often used 16-foot logs.
Here is one of the stones with an inscription. Can you read it?
Another of inscribed stones. “..APRIL” ?
Here’s Danny with one of the marked stones. We cannot quite make out the inscription yet. There might be more under the dirt. We’ll check them out soon.
Lt. Jesse Walton (b 10 Jan. 1738/9 d 21 May 1821) who married Ann Pleasant (b 11 May 1749 d 3 May 1823) is said to have been a soldier during the Revolutionary War. If anyone has information about his military service, I would like to hear from you. Some believe that the gap was named for Ann Pleasant’s family. These graves are near the property line and it is not clear which side.
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