Original Information from Volume 5 of the Gravestone Books
Colchester Cemetery is located southeast of Old Colchester Road between Hyde Street and the Occoquan River. This was the church burial ground for the town of Colchester which was established along the banks of the Occoquan River in 1753, and is one of the earliest colonial cemeteries in Fairfax County.
Colchester flourished for several years as an important port at the confluence of the Occoquan and Potomac Rivers. In her publication Colchester: Colonial Port on the Potomac, Edith Sprouse quotes a letter from Joseph Adams to his cousin, written from “Colchester on Occoquan,” in May 1760. He describes the town as having “a very pleasant situation on a deep river. Its trade is increasing and houses are building. We see many Indians passing through, but they are friendly and going over the mountains. The wars are over and the plantations are peaceful and quiet. We have regular church service in the neighborhood. The people are very hospitable to all newcomers.”
An article in the 22 January 1925 issue of the Herndon News-Observer about the area describes a fire in 1830 which destroyed 60 houses on the south side of Main Street. The town, according to this account, was just “a skeleton of its former self” in 1925. The account mentions the cemetery, which was within the town limits, near the river, covering four acres. At that time there were “only a few chipped and broken gravestones . . . to mark the spot.”
The cemetery was surveyed in 1938 by Susan R. Morton for her report to the Works Progress Administration of Virginia, Historical Inventory. She described the site as “perhaps not half a mile from the site of Colchester,” on property “owned by the estate of a man named Shick” which was owned in the 1880s by Potter Trice. “Until a few years ago numerous stones were here,” Morton states, “but they have been removed. It was at one time known as the ‘Indian Graveyard.’” (See Unnamed Cemetery - Occoquan Regional Park; perhaps these two cemeteries were confused by Morton.) During her visit to the site, Morton recorded the following gravestone which she found leaning against a tree.
Here lyes the body of
Departed this life
Age 68 years
This gravestone disappeared from the Colchester site shortly after Morton’s report, according to James T. White in Points of Interest in the Pohick Cemetery and Churchyard. When the gravestone was rediscovered near the intersection of Old Colchester and Hassett Roads in 1985, it was brought to Pohick Church and placed in the church archives.
Fairfax County conducted an archaeological survey of the Colchester site in 1990. Researchers located foundations, headstones, depressions, roadbeds and collected pieces of glass, slipware, handmade bricks, oyster shells and fragments of mortar. When Brian Conley, Information Specialist in the Virginia Room of the Fairfax City Regional Library, visited the site in 1994, he found “no visible headstones” in the “very overgrown” cemetery.
Update/Corrections/Additions from Volume 6 of the Gravestone Books
COLCHESTER CEMETERY - UPDATE
Society member Jane Douma Pearson, liaison from the Fairfax Genealogical Society to the Fairfax History Commission, reports that at the May 1999 meeting of the Commission, county historian Edith M. Sprouse presented a rubbing of a “tombstone found near the Colchester Town cemetery.” The legible portion of the rubbing, which was done by Brian Conley, Information Specialist in the Virginia Room, Fairfax City Regional Library, reads:
Elizabeth [ ] Sep 1760
wife of [ ]