If you live near or have walked past the intersection of San Carlos and Byrd Drives, you might have noticed that there has been a significant change at the empty lot that’s there. Many residents of the Villa may not be aware that there is a cemetery located on the knoll. It belonged to the family that lived in the area in the mid 1700’s. James Halley (also known as Haley or Hawley or Holley) was granted the land from Lord Fairfax the 6th in 1742. There are varying accounts of the amount of land that he was given, but it is generally agreed that it was at least 690 acres and may have been over 1000 acres. James Halley was married to Elizabeth Simpson and they had 11 children. Of the 11 children, many moved to Kentucky. Only four remained in Fairfax. The land was sold to Newman Burke in 1845 and was sold several times until the Chasens purchased it and built what is now Fairfax Villa.
The cemetery has been in a state of neglect and has been overgrown for much of its recent history. Attempts to clear out the property have been hampered by the thick brush and the numerous dead and leaning trees that are hanging over the cemetery plot. Last fall, Bill Muras, an industrious and dedicated neighbor, began working on his own to clean out the plot. His efforts have spearheaded a campaign that has led to the work that has been accomplished. This spring, a group of volunteers from the Villa Aquatic Club spent a day cutting down the trees in the front of the lot. Another group of volunteers from the DAR spent several weekends working on the vines and weeds that were concealing the access to the cemetery.
There is not much to see at the cemetery, its basically bare ground. There are two partial headstones, but that is all that is remaining. We believe that at least 12 members of the Halley family are buried there. Research is ongoing to try to determine who might be interned at the plot.
If you walk up the knoll to look at the cemetery, please try to avoid entering the plot itself. The stonewalls are very fragile and in need of repair. Be respectful of the fact that it is a cemetery.
The goal of the initial clean-up efforts have been to gain access to the plot. In the future we hope to be able to deal with the trees on the property, the stonewall and clearing of the remaining debris on the lot. We will be organizing a workday to attempt to remove the stumps and the groundcover at the front of the lot in order to clear the area for future plantings.
We have been working with the Braddock District Supervisor’s office and have been featured as the Citizens of the Month in the May Beacon Newsletter, https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/braddock/sites/braddock/files/assets/may_beacon_final.pdf .
The project is in desperate need of funding to help with tree removal costs and future maintenance expenses. A GoFundMe page has been set up. Please help fund the efforts to preserve and restore the Halley Family Cemetery, https://www.gofundme.com/f/halley-cemetery-restoration-and-preservation?utm_campaign=p_cp_url&utm_medium=os&utm_source=customer .If you have any questions, contact firstname.lastname@example.org