We all know the name Wayland, which we encounter all over Crozet—from the Wayland’s Grant subdivision off Jarmans Gap Road, to the Wayland Park neighborhood near downtown, to the former Wayland’s Crossing Tavern in Old Trail. But how many of us are aware that the original Wayland ancestors are still buried in the family graveyard, hidden behind the new Pleasant Green subdivision?
The graveyard, which still holds the remains of Crozet’s founding fathers and mothers, is surrounded by looming, ivy-covered maple, oak, and honey locust trees, not far from Powell’s Creek. It measures about 20’ x 30’ and is surrounded by a moss-covered, 3-foot stone and mortar wall. The wall is solid all the way around, with no gate. “This is a closed graveyard,” explained Abram’s great-grandson David Wayland, a retired Episcopal priest still living in Charlottesville. “This usually means no one else should be buried there. The graveyard was probably established in 1857 when Jeremiah’s wife Mary died.” A visit to the Wayland burial ground will leave you with a feeling of peace, serenity, and a connection to Crozet’s earliest history.
Jeremiah Wayland purchased Pleasant Green in 1832 from Benjamin Franklin Ficklin (1827-1871), who is buried in Maplewood Cemetery in downtown Charlottesville. Ficklin—who is credited with co-founding the Pony Express—grew tobacco and Jeremiah, known as Jere, bred livestock. But it was Jeremiah’s son, Abram, who established some of the first apple and peach orchards in Albemarle County, launching a fruit production enterprise that grew to fuel the area’s prosperity for over half a century, joined by many other notable orcharding families. At one time, Abram owned 1,200 acres, extending from what is now Crozet Avenue west to Mint Springs. It was Abram Wayland who petitioned the C&O Railroad for a freight loading platform, then known as Wayland’s Crossing, to move his produce. The railroad finally agreed to build a depot in 1876 to deliver construction materials for the building of Miller School, but insisted that it be named for Claudius Crozet, engineer of the Blue Ridge Tunnel. The Wayland homeplace was expanded several times and at one time was known as Hotel Wayland, catering to tourists arriving by train (www.crozetgazette.com/2018/10/05/secrets-of-the-blue-ridge-pleasant-green-crozet-history-101).
The six “known burials” in the graveyard, lined along the back wall, include Jeremiah (1798-1887), his wife Mary Ramsey (1797-1857), their son Abram (1834-1906), Abram’s wife Martha Thomas Woodson (1837-1904), and their two children, who died young: Thomas (1872-1890) and Clara Belle (1870-1871), who lived only a year. Jeremiah did own slaves, who may be buried outside the walls—including Simon and Harriet Timberlake, who continued to live on the property after they were granted their freedom.
In 1986, David’s cousin Robert had the gravestones moved from the old burial ground to the larger, public Rockgate Cemetery on Crozet Ave. This location allowed room for additional descendants to join their ancestors; Rockgate now houses at least 18 additional Waylands, their spouses, and children. David’s grandfather, Charles Lee Wayland (1861-1953), son of Abram’s son Robert, was born at Pleasant Green, but built his own house off Crozet Ave. behind the old firehouse (and current rescue squad). Charles Lee sold that house, which later burned down, and built Maple Lawn, on the left side of the present Wayland Street (which was his driveway), with the surrounding property comprising his farm. Several large pine and deciduous trees on the left side of Wayland St. remain from Charles Lee’s property, whose gravestone at Rockgate reads, “Orchardist.” Jeremiah’s gravestone has been broken twice, but the family raised the funds needed to repair it.
The burial ground sits about 250 yards behind the original location of the homeplace—which was torn down in 2020 to make room for the new subdivision, which took its name, and is currently replaced by a huge mound of dirt—located at the end of the emergency access road across from the clubhouse. The cost of repairs to make the old house usable was just too high to save it. Parts of the house—such as the banister, mantelpiece, windowsills, and floorboards—were salvaged by family and friends; some were used by Stanley Martin in the renovation of the clubhouse.
Virginia law mandates that graveyards be protected and access to them maintained. Developer Stanley Martin “has told me that they will work with the family in the future with regards to trees, bushes, and other plantings around the cemetery,” said Jennie More, great-granddaughter of Abram’s daughter Helen Wayland. “I think they would prefer to do plantings around the cemetery that are similar to what will also be planted throughout the neighborhood. It is my understanding that the HOA will care for the area around the cemetery.” Stanley Martin has already cleared the area around the graveyard and taken down two trees, one inside the wall and another that had fallen into the cemetery. David’s cousin Glenn Wayland, who lives in Harrisonburg, has plans to plant a boxwood at each grave. “I do hope they will care for the cemetery,” Jennie continued. “I will be around to look out for it and my kids also know how important it is, so I hope that they will look after things when I am gone. Having the plaque there will help people remember that it is important and that there are people buried there. I hope that Stanley Martin will put up some other signage.”
The Wayland family provided much of the land that now comprises downtown Crozet, including donating land for the Crozet Methodist Church. In addition to Thomas and Clara Belle, who did not survive to adulthood, Abram and Martha had six children: Annie, Charles Lee (1861-1953), Betty (1864-1946), Mattie, Robert, and Helen (1878-1931)—who married Russell Bargamin (1876-1971). Betty never married and was probably the last Wayland to live at Pleasant Green. All of these are buried at Rockgate Cemetery.
J.T. O’Neill, longtime Crozet orchardist and merchant, bought Pleasant Green from Abram’s heirs in 1910.
After marrying in 1922, David’s father George Bourne (GB) Wayland (son of Charles Lee) built Apple Green, in Mint Springs Valley. David Wayland grew up there and returned in 1992, where he and his wife Ginny lived and ran the orchard, as well as a bed and breakfast, for 20 years. “I’m the last of four siblings,” he explained. “The original orchard was split among us. My piece was seven acres.” He was president of the Crozet Community Association (CCA), now headed by Tim Tolson. In 2013, he sold the farm to the Clay family and moved to Charlottesville. In the early 2000s, David led the process to create a bronze plaque listing all the known burials in this treasured, historic family burial ground. Paid for by a group of family members both local and distant, it was installed on the front face of the graveyard wall and dedicated March 15, 2011. “I plan to be buried in the Emmanuel Episcopal Church graveyard in Greenwood, where my parents are also buried,” he continued. “I will use paving stones salvaged from Pleasant Green as my gravestone.” David has one daughter and three sons; there are also many cousins and grandchildren still carrying on the family name.
Crozet would not be what it is today without the Wayland family, whose memory still lives at the family cemetery behind Pleasant Green. “I would like to see those gravestones put back,” confessed David, “but it would cost too much.”