Geneology Road Trip to VA

A road trip to Virginia is always a good thing.  Within an hour, we can be driving on Virginia highways. The recent trip on 6/26-6/27/16 was extraordinary because Gary and I had our two kids with us, and together we discovered the tombstone of my 10x great grandfather Edward Digges (1621-1675).

First of all, I can take NO credit for the discovery that I even had a 10x great grandfather on my father’s side. The credit goes to my cousin Linda Hansen, who lives in Washington State. She has spent countless hours, months, and years on the (Halverson) genealogy. Linda’s mother, Yvonne, and my father, Ralph, were sister and brother. A few years back she sent me an email and told me about Edward Digges, our ancestor, who was buried in Yorktown, Virginia. I am terribly grateful for my cousin’s detailed work on our family history, and most appreciative of the snippet of news that she and her siblings, and my siblings and I (and other Halverson cousins) have such an accomplished ancestor!

I thought it would be fun to have one or both of the kids with us when we made that trip. Since Jordan was coming out for a visit from Phoenix and Hanna could take a day off, we decided the time was right to do some exploration. Jordan’s wife couldn’t make this trip because of work, and Hanna’s husband couldn’t take a day off from his work. So, our two kids and our dog piled in the family van and off we went.

Remy was ready once we started putting our bags by the door.
Hanna has a deluxe selfie stick, which was great for a trip like this.
We stayed in Williamsburg, so we took the opportunity to walk around the College of William & Mary on day 1. Hanna made the trip with us a few years back and we know Jordan would enjoy walking around the campus as well. I still marvel at sitting on the steps of the Wren Building on the campus – the same steps and building where Thomas Jefferson walked. The classrooms and building are still in use. Jefferson enrolled at the college at the age of 16 (in 1760) and graduated at 18. James Monroe and John Tyler were the other two presidents who attended the university.  [Cool Facts about the College of William & Mary.] The campus is beautiful with it’s centuries old buildings, and gorgeous gardens and grounds. Fortunately the weather was perfect for our weekend, in the mid 80’s. Downtown Williamsburg borders the College of William and Mary, and the grounds of Colonial Williamsburg, so it really is a rich place for tourists.

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Thirteen miles away was Yorktown, a scenic little town where you can tour battlefields and spread out a blanket and lay on the beach of the York River. Jordan and I stopped in at the Visitor’s Center and found a National Park Service employee, Mac, who was especially helpful once I told him we were looking for an ancestor’s grave at Bellfield Plantation. He knew exactly what I was referring to and marked a map for us. It would not be a parking lot where we’d take an easy walk to a cemetery, so I’m glad we talked with him. He explained that the grounds are no longer kept up, despite it being National Park Service property, but told us to keep walking once the trail ends and we’d end up seeing the big iron fence surrounding the Digges Family Plots. I’ll be sending Mac @ the Yorktown office of the NPS a thank you card.


Let me tell you a little about my 10x great grandfather Edward Digges. He was born at Chilham Castle in Kent, England (and the castle still exists). He was a barrister in England and decided to sail the seas to Colonial Virginia to start a new life. He purchased  over 1200 acres to start farming mulberry trees and tobacco. He was also a big promoter and marketer of silk. His tobacco was apparently quite popular for its time and was known as ED Tobacco. Edward Digges did well enough for himself as a farmer and entrepreneur, and a friend to the colonies, that he was appointed to the position of Colonial Governor of Virginia from 1655-1656.

The park ranger was correct – we ended up parking on the side of the road by the York River and walking across the highway. There we ducked under a gate and walked along a path and once the path ended, we kept walking and saw a couple of signs indicating there used to be houses, buildings, or family plots. It was obvious that there used to be a parking lot, and a park and/or picnic environment. The ranger said once 911 happened, with a Navy base nearby, things changed regarding anyone having 100% access to the old properties in that vicinity. Anyway, we kept walking and saw what we set out to find. Through a clearing we saw iron fences – so we knew we’d found the location. It was very overgrown with weeds, the fenced in tombstones, but some still had the inscriptions visible. It was amazing to see tombstones from the 1600’s, knowing the tools they had and did not have. Gary climbed up on the fence to get a better vantage point of a photo shot of the top of the tombstones. And once he told us to watch out for snakes, I was ready to walk the 300 yards back to the van.

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5 thoughts on “Geneology Road Trip to VA

  1. This is amazing, the fact that you could find this gravesite and tell us about it, certainly is a priceless piece of our family history. Thank you!

  2. Thanks to Edward’s being the third governor of Virginia, his ancestry has been documented back to the 500s on two different lines (Cuthwulf of Wessex and Carloman, father of Pepin of Laden). Grandma was a Kisinger and we have her nephew Dick Kleber to thank for sharing the whole thing with us.

    • I’m very appreciative for the info — it really was a great experience to find those historical tombstones – seemed like the middle of nowhere, while we were 300 yards from the highway.

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