Upton Farm Family Cemetery

(located on All Saints’ Church property)

researched and written by Jay Rarick

This study of the Upton family of the Occoquan District of Prince William County, Virginia, came about because of the purchase of the former farm site by All Saints’ Church (Anglican) in 2001 to build their new Sanctuary and Campus.

The land contains an abandoned cemetery which belonged to the Upton family who farmed this land in the 19th and early 20th centuries. An archaeological study commissioned by All Saints’ Church established that there were at least five burials in the cemetery, oriented in a more North-South rather than East facing orientation. The burials were marked with plain field stones of various descriptions rather than carved grave markers.

Members of All Saints’ Church desired to know more about their "new neighbors" and to possibly accomplish a consecration [or re-consecration] of the cemetery and pay due respect to those buried there.

There were two families of Uptons in the Occoquan District (north-eastern quarter) of Prince William County in the 19th century. One includes a white family who eventually occupied the property along the historic alignment of Smoketown Road and another were a mulatto family who resided in the area closer to the Town of Occoquan. There is no indication of any family connection between these two groups and the present study focuses on the white family who eventually bought the property on Smoketown Road.

The first generation of record begins before the 1840 census with a William Upton (hereinafter referred to as William "Sr.") who was a boatman and later a farmer. William Sr. and his first wife had five children and William Sr. became a widower between 1840 and 1850. At around age 45 he married a 15-year-old girl named Susanna as his second wife. In the 1850 census Susanna (or Susan) is shown in the spouse’s position on the Census page with her eldest step-daughter being two years older than she. By the 1860 census William Sr. and Susan/Susanna were no longer living with the elder step-children.

It appears from the lack of records to the contrary, that none of the Upton men in Prince William of the period entered Confederate service during the Civil War. Being behind Union lines for much of the War, they were beyond reach of the Confederate conscription and none appear to have volunteered. It is also interesting to note that an examination of the 1840 Federal Census and 1850 & 1860 Federal Census Slave Schedules fail to list the Uptons as either owning or hiring the labor of any slaves.

According to County Records, William H. Upton (William "Jr.") and his brother John T. Upton in 1870 and 1883 purchased the first of the land along Smoketown Road which would become the Upton farm. Both of these brothers were from William Sr.’s first marriage.

The farm passed to William Jr. and his wife, Mary Jane Upton, and their children. William Jr. and Mary Jane had six children. The first appears to have died very young, and the next two, Sarah (died before 1860) and Walter (14 years old: died 10 Apr 1873) also died in their early years.

By 1880 there were William Jr. and his wife Mary Jane and their three remaining children, William H. (William III), Mary Catherine and John Thomas Upton, living on the farm. By 1890 William Jr. is paying real estate tax ($0.59) on 24 acres, which probably contained what is today the family cemetery. All of this family is shown living on the property in the 1900 census, but by 1910, William Jr has disappeared. While not documented, it is very reasonable to assume that William Jr. had passed away and was buried in the family cemetery. This is possibly the first burial in the family cemetery. Between 1900 and 1910, daughter Mary Catherine had married and then died without children, leaving her husband, William Henry as a widower. As we will see, this is the possibly the second burial.

Here James Hobson Upton appears on the farm in the 1910 census as a "Nephew" to William III who is now the head of the family on the farm. In fact Hobson (as he is called), while he is about 30 years the junior of William III and John T. Upton, is a half-cousin; the son of James Isaac Upton who is a son of William Sr and Susan/Susanna.

Between the 1910 and 1920 census the mother, Mary Jane Upton, dies while living on the farm with her sons. It is probable that she would be buried in the family cemetery. This is probably the third burial.

In 1916 William Henry, the widower of Mary Catherine Upton, died. He had remarried, yet the County death register indicates he is buried at "the Upton Farm." Thus he is the first documented burial in the farm cemetery which has survived. As he had remarried, the only reason he would be buried in the Uptons’ family cemetery is that he is buried next to his first wife, Mary Catherine Upton, who pre-deceased him. Thus we have a fourth likely burial. In April 1924, John Thomas Upton sells the property, stating that he is the sole remaining heir. As his older brother, William III, is alive in the Prince William County poll tax records in 1922, he must have died between 1922 and 1924, while living on the farm. This is our fifth likely burial.

The Washington Post obituary for John Thomas Upton states that when he died in August 1940, he was buried in the Upton family cemetery. This makes our sixth burial and our second and last documented burial.

Neither William III nor his brother John Thomas Upton ever married. In his will, John Thomas Upton left all his property, including presumably the right of ingress and use of the family cemetery, to his "Nephew" James Hobson Upton of Alexandria, VA. Hobson passed away in 1965 and is buried in the "Stonewall Memory Garden" at Manassas, VA.

When the Upton property was sold in 1924, the cemetery was reserved as a 1/4 acre parcel set aside "with right of ingress and egress." After several owners, the cemetery has passed, with the rest of the parcel, to the ownership and care of All Saints’ Church.