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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This brochure is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-140
Date: August 2005


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This photograph includes the entire cemetery.  One large and two small gravestones are visible.  It is surrounded by a black iron fence, and there are several trees in the background.


This photograph is of an older gravestone.  The name Reid is all that is visible on the stone.

Located among pavement testing machinery, giant flumes, and a crash test site, the Reid Family Cemetery is both an anachronism and a historical point of interest on the grounds of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC). The cemetery was part of the Reid family farm, which dates back to the mid-1800s. The farm was a focal point in local history. The U.S. Government acquired the farm from a Reid descendent in 1940 for $24,954.83. Part of the agreement with the Reid family was that the Government would maintain the private cemetery and that family descendents would have the option to be buried there if they wished.

In 2002, a special effort was made to improve the cemetery grounds. Maintenance staff mowed, edged, and trimmed the area, and removed two of the trees on the site. In addition, a 1.2-meter- (4-foot)-high black iron fence was built around the cemetery, using the plot's four cornerstones as guidelines. Each side of the fence includes an opening for easy access by family members and visitors. Today, TFHRC staff continue to preserve, maintain, and improve the cemetery. An informational display will soon be placed nearby.


The Reids, who likely have a mostly Scottish heritage, have also been traced back to Ireland and England. They arrived in Virginia in the early 1600s, shortly after Captain John Smith founded the first British colony at Jamestown, VA. Most Reid family members were considered to be neutral or Unionist during the Civil War but some Reids reportedly fought for the South.

Indicative of the family's Unionist tendencies, the Union Army occupied Richard S. Reid's land during the Civil War, and both Richard and his son William voted against secession in 1861. Several of Richard's children followed in suit. Marietta (Reid) Smith's husband joined the Union Army. William, however, left home at age 19 to join the Confederate army. Mirroring the internal fractioning of the Reid family, onsite clashes during the war resulted in significant damage to their property.

Richard's son, James, ultimately filed a claim on his father's behalf for wartime damage to their farm. The claim was for $1,260.60 but $418.18 was allotted. In Richard S. Reid's will, he requested that his "dutiful and industrious" daughter, Martha, and his son, Charlie, stay with their mother on the farm until she passed away. Charlie, unfortunately, died about one year after his father passed away.


Robert S. Reid, father of Richard and the first Reid owner, purchased his land from Richard B. Lee in 1819 for a mere $47. He divided the land among his children, Richard S. Reid being one of them. Richard in turn, divided his land, known as Harmony Valley at the time, among his own descendants. James L. Reid, Richard's son, acquired the property on which TFHRC is now located. Through James' will, the property was left to his wife, Mary Alice Reid, who then passed on the land to her son, Lawrence M. Reid. He then sold the 235.3 hectares (581 acres) of property to the U.S. Government.


Family Tree:  Richard S. Reid (1801-1871) and Elizabeth (1819-1901) are the parents of Martha R. (1842-1902), James L. (1847-1921), Isaac S. (1852-1855), Lewis F. (1859-1865), and Charlie R. (1861-1872). James L. married Mary Alice (1851-1938).  They had one son, Lawrence M. (1887-1953). He married Ethel (1889-1964). Gladys Virginia Cornwall (1899-1900), a great-granddaughter of Richard and Elizabeth, is also shown linked to her great-grandparents.  It appears that her parents are unknown.

This portion of the family tree includes all verified members of the Reid family that are buried in the family's private cemetery. There is no record that states specifically if Lewis is the son of Richard and Elizabeth, but genealogists assume that he is because of his and year of birth.


Ethel Reid Wagner (1889-1964)

Lawrence Milton Reid (1887-1953)

Mary Alice Reid (1851-1938)

James L. Reid (1847-1921)

Gladys Virginia Cornwall (1899-1900)

Elizabeth Reid (1819-1901)

Martha R. Reid (1842-1902)

Charlie R. Reid (1861-1872) Died of consumption at age 10.

Richard S. Reid (1801-1871) Died from a fever at age 70.
Lewis F. Reid (1859-1865)

Isaac S. Reid (1852-1855)
Died from croup at age 3.
This photograph is a closeup of three very old gravestones near a tree in the cemetery. The words on the stones are illegible.


In addition to the known graves, five unmarked graves are represented by flat flush stones. Four small footstones-represented by unnumbered squares-and four rectangles represent where the cornerstones once stood. These stones, which likely once marked the border of the cemetery, have since fallen over.


  • "Rambler." Sunday Star, Washington, D.C. February 22, 1920. Extracted by M. L. Richardson, August 27, 1995.
  • Deed of James L. Reid. Fairfax County Courthouse, Fairfax, VA, Liber U-8, p.541.
  • Deed of Richard B. Lee. Fairfax County Courthouse, Fairfax, VA, Liber RR No.2, p.265.
  • Frain, Elizabeth, R. Fairfax County, Virginia Death Register 1853-1896. Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books, 2002.
  • Sprouse, Edith M. and Sprouse, Mitchell. Abstracts of Claims for Civil War Losses, Fairfax County, VA. Southern Claims Commission, #12013. Fairfax County Courthouse, Fairfax, VA.
  • Sprouse, Edith M. (ed.) Fairfax County in 1860: A Collective Biography Compiled by Edith M. Sprouse. Fairfax, VA: 1996.
  • TFHRC Property Deed with Lawrence M. Reid. Plat Book 3, p.399.
  • The Virginia Genealogies compiled by Stuart E. Brown et al, Virginia Book Company, 1967.
  • Will of Mary Alice Reid. Fairfax County Courthouse, Fairfax, VA. Will Book 18, p.264.
  • Will of Richard S. Reid. Fairfax County Courthouse, Fairfax, VA. Will Book B-2, p.209.
  • Will of Robert S. Reid. Fairfax County Courthouse, Fairfax, VA. Will Book U, p.33.


This fact sheet was researched and compiled by Cristina Martinez as part of the 2005 Department of Transportation Summer Transportation Internship Program for Diverse Groups.

The Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) has more than 24 laboratories for research in the following areas: safety; operations, including intelligent transportation systems; materials technology; pavements; structures; and human centered systems. The expertise of TFHRC scientists and engineers covers more than 20 transportation-related disciplines. These laboratories are a vital resource for advancing this body of knowledge created and nurtured by our researchers. The Federal Highway Administration's Office of Research, Development, and Technology operates and manages TFHRC to conduct innovative research to provide solutions to transportation problems both nationwide and internationally. TFHRC is located in McLean, VA. Information on TFHRC is available on the Web at www.fhwa.dot.gov/research/.

Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000
Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center | 6300 Georgetown Pike | McLean, VA | 22101