welcome to the churchyard
We invite you to enjoy the beauty of this historic place. The benches throughout the churchyard and Memorial Garden were gifts to the church for your comfort, relaxation, and reflection. This site has been sacred ground for centuries—the location chosen by generations as the final resting place for their loved ones. As you wander, consider the history of some of the gravesites highlighted in this slideshow.
A Tour of the Gravesites
The oldest identifiable grave in the church graveyard. Rounded indentations in the headstone likely resulted from musket balls fired by soldiers quartered here during the Civil War.
A Revolutionary War veteran and is the only known soldier from that conflict buried here. Sommers, his wife, and three other relatives were originally buried in a family plot on their property and were later reinterred here.
John Carolin (1764–1803)
Simon Sommers (1747 - 1836)
Henry Fairfax (1804 - 1847)
Financed the restoration of the church in the 1830s and 1840s. A graduate of West Point, he organized a volunteer regiment when the Mexican War broke out, and died in Saltillo, Mexico. The inscription on this marker is copied from the text of a lost plaque reported by a Civil War correspondent in Harper’s Weekly of August 31, 1861.
Artemesia Scott (1843 - 1908)
A Confederate spy.
The largest family plot in the graveyard. The Balls were relatives of George Washington’s mother, Mary Ball Washington. Of particular interest are the grave of Daniel Dulaney (1780–1848), whose barn may have been used during the War of 1812 to store gunpowder to prevent its capture by the British when they attacked Washington, D.C., and the grave of Mottrom Dulaney Ball (1835–1887), a Confederate soldier who later served as U.S. District Attorney in the Territory of Alaska.
6. The two markers on either side of the end of the pathway leading from Washington Street commemorate both Union and Confederate soldiers, known and unknown, buried on the grounds in unmarked graves during the Civil War. The remains of two Confederate soldiers were removed for reinternment in Richmond.
7.The Reverend Francis Wingate Hayes, Jr. (1914–1999) was the last person buried in the church graveyard. He was rector of The Falls Church Episcopal from 1945–1957.
8.The Mason family plot is the final resting place for several relatives of George Mason, who served on the Truro Parish Vestry, was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. His draft of the Virginia Declaration of Rights heavily inspired James Madison, the primary drafter of the Bill of Rights.
9. Anti-slavery activist John D. Read (1812–1864) was a lay minister of Columbia Baptist Church. Before and during the Civil War, Read and his daughter Betsy helped run a school for free and enslaved African Americans in Falls Church. He was a member of the interracial Falls Church Home Guard, a militia of Union loyalists organized to protect villagers during the Civil War. Accused of being a Union spy by “Mosby’s Raiders,” known also as "Mosby's Rangers", under Confederate Colonel John Singleton Mosby, Read and his black companion Jacob Jackson were kidnapped, shot execution style, and left for dead on October 24, 1864. Jackson survived but Read succumbed.
10. To the left of the path leading northwards from the portico, these four rough-hewn gravestones from the late 18th century predate any standing gravestones. The graves and stones were moved here in the mid-20th century to clear the site for George Mason High School, 1.7 miles northwest of here.
11. The George Ives family plot has a small obelisk. Brothers George and Ruben were members of the interracial Falls Church Home Guard, a militia of Union loyalists organized to protect villagers during the Civil War. Comprised of unenlisted men and boys, the Falls Church Home Guard included an equal number of blacks and whites who were issued weapons, kept watch, and alerted the town to approaching Confederate troops.
12. The Bailey family plot contains members of the Bailey family, who ran a circus that would ultimately become known as the Barnum and Bailey Circus. The headstone at George F. Bailey’s grave is the tallest monument in The Falls Church Cemetery.
13. The Memorial Chapel is connected to the Memorial Garden with a stone path. Names of the interred are listed in the nearby cloister.
History of the Churchyard
The earliest burials on this property occurred in the 18th century, and records show payments in 1778 to the church sexton for mending gravestones. While many early 18th century landowners had family graveyards near their homes, this churchyard was the only large burial ground in the village of Falls Church for most of the 18th and 19th centuries. Church vestry minutes note many unauthorized burials throughout this period. As the graveyard became more crowded, the vestry was forced to limit burials to Episcopalians who already had family plots in the churchyard. In the late 19th century, vestry members approached the town council to ask for the creation of a town cemetery. In 1885, members of the parish helped establish Oakwood Cemetery one mile east of here, which still functions as a public cemetery today.
Memorial Garden and Chapel
In 1976, a Memorial Garden was established at the east end of the north yard for the burial of cremated remains. The people whose remains are buried here are memorialized in a large frame with individual metal name plates in the nearby cloister. The plantings in the garden represent Virginia native trees and flowers in a 19th century tradition. The small, brick Memorial Chapel, redesigned in 2004, provides a space for small worship gatherings, Bible study, or private reflection.
The Oldest Tree
The oldest tree on the grounds is a huge white oak, located in the south yard. Other large trees include a tulip poplar, hickory, silver maple, and American holly. Major trees are marked with common and botanical names.