Marshall Family Cemetery
This tiny cemetery in a corner of the larger Colonel Silas Burke Park is the final resting place of only three people. John and Mary Marshall were prominent citizens of Burke in the nineteenth century, settling near this spot in 1852. John Marshall owned a general store and served as the town's postmaster, and the Marshalls donated land throughout their lives and in their wills. The Marshalls first buried in the cemetery an unknown soldier who died on their doorstep during the Civil War. Twentieth-century vandalism of the cemetery led to restoration efforts and the creation of the Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association.
Backstory and Context
John A. and Mary Jane Davis Marshall purchased fifty acres of land in 1852, located near the intersection of present-day Burke Lake Rd and Burke Rd, not far from the cemetery. The Marshalls donated land to churches and schools, and willed the rest to extended relatives in 24 parcels. They had no children. The Marshall house house was later moved and eventually destroyed by fire.
The Marshall General Store was about 100 feet west of where the Marshall Family Cemetery now stands. In addition to operating the store, Marshall served as the postmaster from 1852 and 1854 and worked in some capacity for the Burke family, for whom the community is named. Sources say both that he worked as a foreman for Silas Burke and that he managed the affairs of Burke's widow, Hannah. He also may have worked for the Burke Railroad Depot.
Long before the burial the Marshalls in their family cemetery was the cemetery's first burial, a dying soldier who collapsed in front of the Marshall home. He did not give his name, but carried a sword with the initials "J. L. B." It was unknown whether he was a Union or Confederate soldier. The Orange and Alexandria Railroad passed through their land, and the Marshalls would have seen military fighting during the Civil War.
John Marshall died in 1892 at age 71, predeceased by Mary, who died in 1887 at age 61. They share a 14-foot marker in the family cemetery. Originally there were three stones at the foot of the marker for each of the Marshalls and the unknown soldier. Vandalism in the late twentieth century degraded the site, and the carved urn at the top of the marker was broken off. In 1988, the cemetery was restored and gated through the efforts of resident Ann Brown, the Burke Historical Society, and the Burke Manor Civic Association. Further vandalism in 2008 led to the creation of the Fairfax County Cemetery Preservation Association. The cemetery borders on Colonel Silas Burke Park and continues to be the site of graffiti and vandalism.
--. Marshall Family Cemetery, Find A Grave. August 6th 2006. Accessed December 15th 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2184812/marshall-family-cemetery.
Burke Historical Society. Marshall Family Cemetery, Historical Sites around Burke. Accessed December 15th 2019. https://burkehistoricalsociety.org/history-of-burke-virginia/historical-sites-around-burke/#1469550183796-076f3145-5fe5.
eazyeschendor. Marshall Family Cemetery, Atlas Obscura. Accessed December 15th 2019. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/marshall-family-cemetery.
Cliff. J A Marshall, Find a Grave. August 6th 2006. Accessed December 15th 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/15164689/j-a-marshall.
Cliff. J L B, Find a Grave. August 6th 2006. Accessed December 15th 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/15164728/j-l-b