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Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-18-005    Date:  December 2017
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-18-005
Date: December 2017


Preservation of The Reid Family Cemetery

Evolution Of The Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center Property

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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 descendant 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 descendants 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, trimmed the area, and removed two 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’ heritage has been traced back to Scotland, 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.

During the Civil War, the Union Army occupied Richard S. Reid’s land. In 1861, Richard and his son William voted against secession. Several of Richard’s children followed 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 fraction- ing 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 only $418.18 was allotted.

Richard S. Reid’s will 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 1 year after his father passed away.

Photo. View of Reid Family Cemetery. This photo of the Reid Family Cemetery shows the rod-iron gate surrounding various headstones of the members of the Reid family. In the back-left corner of the lot is a tree that shades the nearby headstones. e. Photo. James L. Reid’s headstone. This is a photo of James L. Reid’s headstone, which is a tall, skinny, three-tiered headstone engraved with the following: “To My Beloved Husband, JAMES L. REID, Born July 17, 1817, Died June 6, 1921.” Top image on the right. Photo. Gladys Virginia Cornwall’s headstone. This is a photo of Gladys Virginia Cornwall’s headstone, which is a small curved rectangle that stands upright. It is engraved with the following: “GLADYS VIRGINIA CORNWALL, 1899–1900.”  Bottom image on the right. Photo. Lawrence Milton Reid’s headstone. This is a photo of Lawrence Milton Reid’s headstone, which is a rectangular shape that sits flat in the ground. It is engraved with the following: “FARMER AND SPORTSMAN, LAWRENCE MILTON REID, SEPT. 4, 1887, MARCH 28, 1953.”



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.

In turn, Richard 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’s will, the property was left to his wife, Mary Alice Reid, who then passed the land on to her son, Lawrence M. Reid. He then sold the 235.3 hectares (581 acres) of property to the U.S. Government.


Illustration. Reid Family Heritage Tree as described in the following text. Behind this illustration of the Reid family’s heritage tree is a very faint black and white image of the Reid Family Cemetery.

This 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 age 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.

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.



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