Thursday, April 23, 2009

Can't Visit His Burial Place - Nobody Can Tell Me Where It Is!

When I first began my research, my paternal Grandmother Edna Keener Malone had already passed away. She left very little in the way of clues for me, only what I came to term as "secrets". I had no idea who her father was, but I did know who her mother was. After floundering around for a bit, I finally tracked down another family member, wrote a letter and waited for a phone call. Uncle Marshall Kidwell, my great grandmother's brother, called me one afternoon and wanted to answer some of my questions. He had the answer I really wanted... who was Grandma Edna's father?

"Clarence Keener" was his answer.

May Kidwell and Clarence Keener were married in Fairfax County VA on April 18th 1923. Together they had three children Edna born Feb 11, 1924; Pauline born June 1, 1926 and Russell born October 1, 1927. I knew that May had another child with her second husband in May of 1929 so I began there and went backwards, looking for some clues as to what happened to Clarence. I found a death record for him in Fairfax County in January 1929 and ordered his death certificate.

Judging by the birth date of her next child, I naturally assumed that May and Clarence were no longer together at the time of his death. And judging by the 'clues' that I had hoped would be on his death certificate I was correct about that. Apparently she didn't provide any information and the response "Do Not Know" was listed for almost all of the areas on his death certificate. The only clue - he is listed as "Divorced" (which I still at this point don't believe to be correct but that's another story). I thought it was very sad that this man died, virtually unknown by the people who were around him, and I set out to find out where he was buried. The death certificate stated "Potters Field".

The folks at the Virginia Room in the Fairfax County Library attempted to help me but let me know that burials at that time were not put in a designated place in the county, nor were there many records. The potters field could have been in the backyard of the funeral home (which no longer existed), or it could be in an area that was now off limits because a bridge had been built and even another possibility was 'near' the parking area of the county school bus system. The records of these burials were simply not kept in one place, therefore making it very difficult to find them. I did find that later that year E. W. Groff charged the county $25 for the burial of Clarence, if only I knew where he put him!


  1. Wow Cindy, its so sad that you traced so much to find out about Clarence and then could not find any more. What a shame you can't find where Potters Field is .. that at least would have been something for you
    Hugs and hello's
    June xxx

  2. Hmm ... maybe I could put in an inquiry with the Fairfax Genealogical Society to see if they have any additional information on the various locations for potter's fields in the county.

  3. The uncle I blogged for Uncle Uncle is buried in a potter's field somewhere in Miami. I know in some counties the potter's field is also called the county cemetery, however there are few tombstones or markers of any kind. This almost constitutes a Monday Madness.

  4. Anonymous12/6/12

    I know there is a potters field in fairfax it is called "Fairfax County Cemetary" and I found my mothers uncle there through the help of the va library in fairfax. It is located on Jermantown road, inside the vehicle maintenance facility, in a white picket fence, and this is where he could be, however that potters field was not established until 1946! I will share with you the frustration of E.W.Groff being the undertaker of your Clarence! My Great Grandmother's undertaker was also E.W. Groff, and her death certificate had alot of unknown information as well and it also just said place of burial Fairfax Va..and did not say when or where she was laid to rest! She did have a will and it was place with the courts in 1934 she passed in 1936 we cannot find her anywhere...where did he put her?? Right now his name makes me furious!!! just like clarence, Groff took the money but yet neither bodies can be found!! Also I might mention The Fairfax City Cemetary searched all records for fairfax county cemetaries and was not found, I was told during digging in the cemetary they have dug into vaults that they were not aware they were there, so they have a few unknowns!! still how would we ever know if Groff didnt just bury these people just anywhere with out markings, we will never know who are in those vaults, and I have asked Everly Funeral Home if Groff the former owner left his files there and they said NO!! where do you go from here? If funeral homes are not required to keep burial records then, how would you ever find a loved one from the past? Groff on the other hand seems a little shady to me!! I sure would like to dive into this deeper and find out alot more about him and his business back then....if anyone can help I welcome the help and information..... Tina Hoffman of Virginia