Site 8: Southern-Shreve Cemetery

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Southern-Shreve Cemetery with Historic Marker 1992.

Why is this old family burial ground part of Saint Ann’s history?  In 1941, the Diocese of Richmond purchased the land surrounding it for a future parish.  When Saint Ann Parish was founded in 1947, the descendants of the Southern Shreve family, who still own the cemetery and surrounding lawn area, agreed that the parish could use the lawn for parish and school purposes in exchange for its care of the cemetery.  That agreement still stands today.

The historical marker from Arlington County gives us the history of this cemetery and some of those who were buried here.  In the cemetery are 20 marked stones which today are still in fairly good condition. Five generations of Southern, Shreve, Donaldson and related families are buried here.

The first of these families lived here early in the 19th century.  Frances Redin married Richard Southern in the early 1800s.  They built their home on land received as a dowry from her brother, a prominent Georgetown attorney.  Frances also cared for her father, John Redin, a Revolutionary war veteran in their home which stood somewhere nearby.

John Redin’s gravestone marked with a 13-star flag placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

When John Redin died in 1832, he became the first adult buried in the garden of Frances and Richard’s home. Several infants were buried in the garden prior to Redin, but the smaller markers have only initials. Frances’ husband, Richard Southern, was a landscape architect and horticulturist who pioneered the eating of tomatoes. Previously, tomatoes were used for decorative purposes only, as they were thought to be poisonous.

The Southern’s garden became the family cemetery for generations of related Arlingtonians, including the Southern, Shreve, Birch and Ball families.  Richard and Frances Shreve, buried here, were both killed by lightning on June 25th, 1874, leaving three children. The last burial was that of Mary Southern Shreve, daughter of Frances and Richard Southern, and granddaughter of John Redin.  She died in 1904.

In 2006, José Cardenas, then a Saint Ann teen, cleaned the cemetery as his Eagle Scout project.  He removed all the dead wood and overgrowth on the gravestones.

In 2013, an additional historic marker was installed on the Custis Trail bike path to direct trail users up the steps to this site.

Historical Marker on Custis Trail.

For additional information about the cemetery, search: Southern Shreve Cemetery.