Unique Cemetery Markers Honor Revolutionary, Civil War Soldiers

From The Star-Tribune, Chatham, Virginia. Used with permission.

Brightwood Memorial Park

Brightwood Memorial Park has gravestones for soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

Brightwood Memorial Park affords Pittsylvania County residents and visitors an opportunity to view a “cemetery” with no bodies.

Located on the front portion of the large lawn at “Brightwood,” the home of Harry and April Miller and Polly Wood on Marilla Lane, the memorial park has regulation government gravestones for Miller and Woods ancestors who fought in the American Revolutionary War and in the Civil War (or as the books in the courthouse label it — “The War in Defense of Virginia.”

A noted Pittsylvania County family researcher, April Miller, conceived the idea for the park after reading about regulations regarding the applications for government markers to put on graves of servicemen.

Noting that the regulations provide for memorial stones for veterans of all American wars even when the bodies are buried elsewhere, she began filling out the gravestone applications.

As a part of the requirements for the stones, she had to prove the military service for each individual to be honored. Local courthouse records and National Archives records aided her in this task.

On June 13, 1998, the Rawley Martin Chapter of United Daughters of the Confederacy hosted a dedication service for the monuments.

Members of the Miller family; Mrs. Hunt Meadows, then president of the Rawley Martin Chapter; Mrs. Melvin Vernon, musician; and four members of a CSA reenactment grouop from Danville took part in the program.

On that date, the site contained fifteen gravestones for CSA soldiers.

Since the dedication, Miller, with continued research, has added five Revolutionary War stones and four more CSA stones to Brightwood Memorial Park.

Since Miller authored Shelton County, A Genealogy of Pittsylvania County's Largest Family, one is not surprised to learn that the Shelton name adorns many of these gravestones.

Other family county names are also present, though. Walking along the rows, for example, one reads stones honoring soldiers from the families of Farmer, Forman, Shields, Miller, Grimes, Hoskins, Hayden, Waldron and others.

The Millers invite the public to visit Brightwood Memorial Park and honor the heroes of the past — for heroes they all are who serve to protect their country and their homes.

Visitors are welcome at the park from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. There is no admission charge, and parking is available on the lawn beside the park.

This website is sponsored by Mitchells Publications.