Sunday, October 29, 2023

Old Town Alexandria, the Ghosts & Graveyard Tour, and the Tomb of the Unknown Solider of the American Revolution

Yesterday, I had a book signing at Old Town Books in Alexandria. It was their town's Family Trick or Treat Day and the streets were filled with kids and families in costumes. We've had such nice fall weather during the last month but yesterday I was reminded that I live in Virginia and the summer likes to have one final moment like the end of so many horror movies. The temperature was in the mid-80s and sunny! Many of the kids and family members in costumes looked like they were going to melt. One father was dressed in a polar bear costume and I hoped he had an icepack tucked in place somewhere. 

When I had scheduled the book signing event, I thought it would be fun fall day to bring my best friend Sandy aka “Babushka” to check out the Trick or Treaters; and after the book signing, we could walk around town and even go on the Alexandria’s Colonial Tours “Alexandria’s Original Ghost & Graveyard Tour. While we didn't have the fall weather, there were plenty of activities in Old Town. 

We had tickets at 7:30pm, which was the perfect amount of time between my book signing, some shopping, and a dinner at a local Mexican restaurant. They had pumpkin spice margaritas, but I opted for black cherry, which I’m pretty sure ended up being watermelon flavored. That was probably a better choice for such a warm day. 

Old Town Alexandria makes it easy for tourists to visit because there are so many parking deck options. We stashed our purchases in the car before joining the Ghosts & Graveyard tour. There were many tours happening around the same time, which may have been other tour companies. The streets were packed and tour guides were leading groups everywhere. 

We went through an alley and down some streets in the area to hear ghostly tales and some pretty good/bad Dad jokes. There was a bit of history, some questionable history when it came to a story about a burial (someone without a knowledge of cemetery history in the US might not think much about it but it wasn’t accurate) and the biggest disappointment was that on the Ghost and Graveyard tour, the tour didn’t include any graves or graveyards! 

Before I scream “False advertising,” there were several different routes and the weekend before Halloween isn’t the best time to take a tour. The tour guides are probably exhausted from packed schedules, and the streets are crowded with activity. 

Because “Graveyard” was in the title of the tour, I pulled out my Find A Grave app and found the nearest churchyard—Alexandria’s Historic Old Presbyterian Meeting House and Churchyard. We headed over and I realized that this was the churchyard where the Tomb of the Unknown Solider of the American Revolution is buried. I had checked my app earlier in the day and wanted to walk over to see the grave. 

Normally, I would not have entered a churchyard at night. I was hesitant about doing so last night until Babushka and I realized that the church was filled with a congregation watching a silent movie. The gates were open and the churchyard was well-light. Plus, there was a large sign reminding us that EVERYONE is welcome. 

The visitor’s guide brochure shares that the churchyard was active as a burial ground between 1760 to 1809 and includes over 300 people including “Andrew Wales, the first commercial brewer in the Washington area,” a confidant of George Washington, Dr. James Craik, Thomas Porter, “who participated in the Boston Tea Party” as well as an unidentified Revolutionary War soldier “whose remains were unearthed just to the north of its current tomb” and was reburied in this churchyard in 1826.

All adventures with Babushka are fun. We spent time together and in the end, I had a fun book signing event in the cutest book store, had a great dinner, saw some amazing home decorations, had great guests on our tour, and Babushka and I saw "ghosts"(ghostly decor) and found the graveyard where history is haunting! 

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Friday, October 27, 2023

Grave Inspiration- presentation for Sisters in Crime- Central Virginia, May 16

 Grave Inspiration
Join Sisters in Crime- Central Virginia for a virtual presentation with Dr. Sharon Pajka.

Cemeteries hold a wealth of stories. See how cemeteries and grave markers could liven up your writing.
Thursday, May 16, 7pm ET
Open to All SinC Members- Registration is Required

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Saturday, October 7, 2023