By Carol Wood
great-granddaughter of George Sidney Ford and Amanda Wood Ford
may have helped to solve the mystery that has shrouded an apparent
19th-century grave shaft on the site of a planned U.Va. parking
Norris, 62, who lived on the property until she was a teenager,
came to Charlottesville last month to clear up the theories of
just who was buried in that family plot.
said that her great-grandmother, who with her husband owned a
farm near the corner of Emmet Street and Ivy Road, was buried
at the site in 1895. But, she said, her great-grandmother was
exhumed in the mid-1950s when Norris parents sold the property.
Not wanting to leave Amanda behind, Norris mother, Ruth
Ford Norris, had her moved to the cemetery at St. Pauls
Episcopal Church in Ivy where George Sidney had been buried in
June 22, Norris, armed with stacks of family documents, led several
University officials including Executive
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Leonard W. Sandridge
out to St. Pauls to show them the stone marker at
George Sidney Fords and Amanda Wood Fords final resting
this new information, U.Va. asked archaeologist Benjamin Ford
(no relation) to continue his excavation of the grave shaft, Sandridge
said. We are grateful to Mrs. Norris for the important information
she has provided, he said, but we want to be 100 percent
sure about this.
University hired archaeologist Ford in late May to begin exploration
of a 32-by-32-foot area designated as a cemetery on an 1895 deed.
After finding signs of a grave shaft, Ford and his colleagues
unearthed evidence of a coffin on June 14. They included five
nails, some with small wood fragments attached, and a U-shaped
piece of what appeared to be a coffin handle. He previously had
found one nail with wood fragments.
this week, Ford returned to the site to complete excavation of
the grave shaft and recovered four additional nails and pieces
of two ornamental fittings. On Wednesday, only one foot of soil
remained to be excavated.
about the same time Ben Ford was making his discoveries, Norris
received news clippings from a friend in Charlottesville relating
what she calls some inaccuracies about Norris
Ford ancestors. I didnt want my great-grandparents
names to be used to mislead anyone, she said.
believes there was a pragmatic reason that records from the 1954
sale say that no burials had taken place at the family cemetery,
although she acknowledges she doesnt know that as fact.
The realtor probably thought it was not a good idea to talk
about it, she said, as it could have hurt the sale.
would like to see a small remembrance garden, in honor of George
Sidney and Amanda, worked into the plans for the public space
in front of the parking garage.
big, she said, just a bit of a Victorian garden where
students and neighbors could sit and reflect. He had been a dedicated
employee of the University for 30 years, and Amanda loved her
gardens. I think they would have liked that.