Searching for root of American family tree

Trip Start Mar 14, 2006
Trip End Mar 15, 2007

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

After that I started out for Wytheville, VA, a distance of about 172 miles - give or take a few for getting lost (I-40 to Greensboro and I-74 to Wytheville). My reason for doing this is to get a picture, if I can, of one of the Crease descendants who is buried there.

Passed through more lovely rolling hill country as yesterday. I am sort of doubling back or zig zagging to get there. Could, I suppose, have driven straight up from Asheville along the Blue Ridge Parkway but would have missed lovely Durham and the gardens if I had.

As I drove along, there was an amazing piece of rock jutting out of the landscape - looking like lava butte. A website tells me this is Pilot Mountain, NC. It is "a remnant of the ancient Sauratown Mountains. A quartzite monadnock, this rugged mountain rock has survived for millions of years while the elements have eroded surrounding peaks to a rolling plain. Pilot Mountain is capped by two prominent pinnacles. Big Pinnacle, with walls of bare rock and a rounded top covered by vegetation, rises 1,400 feet above the valley floor, the knob jutting skyward more than 200 feet from its base. Big Pinnacle is connected to Little Pinnacle by a narrow saddle. Visitors have easy access to the top of Little Pinnacle where the view encompasses hundreds of square miles of the Piedmont and the nearby mountains of North Carolina and Virginia". It is really quite spectacular.

I arrived in Wytheville (named after a Confederate General and I am not sure if it is "with"ville or "whythe"ville) about 4:30. It seems all the museums and genealogist folk who could help me locate the relative have all but gone home; however, someone directed me to the East End cemetery. There was no parking area so I drove right in to the cemetery. As I made my way slowly down the road and started a turn to the left, the name "Crease" leapt out at me and I had found her. It is a fairly weathered tombstone (after all, she did die in 1878) and it reads "Jane E. Nelson...daughter of John and Jane Crease of Alexandria, Virginia....Beloved wife of Rev. G.W. Nelson....and five years after, of Philip Nelson...of Hanover.....born Oct. 31, 1816.....died July 3, 1878.....O Christ when thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou dids't open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers." I was quite amazed that I had found her as if directed to the site. Once again, the Crease genes guide me, I think.

Also in that cemetery are monuments to: "Our Confederate dead", notable politicians and a memorial to Edith Bolling Wilson, wife of Woodrow Wilson who was born there. She got quite a nice memorial which is kept up to this day. I then did a bit of a drive around the town including to the church (St. John's) and rectory where Jane Crease's son, Reverend George Washington Nelson, Jr was rector at the time of his mother's death.

I could have followed some of the Virginia Civil War Trails. A group called the Civil War Traveler publishes booklets that one can follow various parts of the conflict from various perspectives. I think I would like to look into these more fully on another trip. In Wythe County I could have followed details of five sites (Into the Valley of Death, The First Skirmish before Wytheville, The Road to Mount Airy Depot, St. John's Church, The Battle in Wytheville) on this trail marking the route of "Toland's Raid." They indicated that "informational markers will enhance your understanding of Virginia's Civil War experience by interpreting and linking significant sites relating to the Civil War throughout the Commonwealth. Follow the Civil War Trails signs to these locations..."

On this occasion, as it was the first "good day" in a while, I opted to drive around the area. Over and around winding roads and "rounded trees", hills, little farmhouses, I got completely lost; however, found my way back to the main road before I ran out of gas and then back to town for dinner at Applebee's. Not a bad restaurant but they always feed me too much.
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Mary on

Wytheville was named for George Wythe a signer of the Declaration of independence and a law professor. He was not a Confederate general. Sorry, just couldn't stand it.

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