For more than six decades, the earthly remains of Jason Boone lay buried in a grave in Skeetertown Cemetery at the end of Pitt Road in Suffolk. His grave – for 63 years – was marked only by a cinderblock.
The remains of Anthony Boone, his brother, rested less than 100 yards away in the same cemetery. Until very recently, Anthony Boone’s grave was also marked only by a single cinderblock.
Today, thanks largely to the efforts of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the remains of these brothers-in-arms – and life – rest peacefully in graves clearly marked by headstones that bear testament to their service in the Confederate Army.
Both of these veterans were free-born black men of Nansemond County. Jason Boone enlisted in the 41st Virginia Volunteer Infantry and brother Anthony served with the Peninsula Light Artillery and later in the 1st Virginia Artillery.
In 1999, courtesy of the Veterans Administration, a headstone for Jason Boone was dedicated in a ceremony conducted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans.
On Nov. 12, a headstone provided for Anthony Boone by the Sons of Confederate veterans was dedicated during a similar ceremony.
Virginia Beach residents Frank and Billie Earnest have been involved in marking the graves of Confederate Veterans for 25 years.
Billie Earnest, historian of the Suffolk Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, conducts the required research to verify the deceased’s Confederate service.
She also gathers the critical information for each veteran’s headstone. She located copies of Anthony Boone’s death certificate, his marriage license and Virginia pension records. From Boone’s pension application, Billie Earnest was able to figure out that he served in the Peninsula Light Artillery/1st Virginia Artillery from 1862 until the end of the war.
“We were sort of surprised. We expected Anthony was in the infantry, but it turned out that he’d been with the Peninsula Light Artillery,” Frank Earnest said.
Katherine Boone Hamilton was among the host of Boone descendants who attended and participated in the recent headstone dedication ceremony at Skeetertown Cemetery. She is the great-niece of Anthony Boone and the great-granddaughter of his brother, Jason.
“When a stone was placed for Jason, it was suggested that we mark (the grave of) Anthony also, because we knew that he served as well. I agreed wholeheartedly,” Hamilton said. “There has been no negativity whatsoever. It was announced in Mount Ararat Church during Sunday service that it was happening.”
Members of Tom Smith Camp SCV provided and set the headstone and prepared the cemetery for the dedication. They cleared a fallen tree off the dirt road that leads to the burial ground, cut the grass and trimmed the weeds.
“They have been back multiple times to make sure the cemetery was in pristine condition,” Katherine Hamilton said. “I am very pleased. I knew every step of the way how things would be so there are no surprises. I’m very proud. I’m very thankful.”
Part of the 17-year gap in getting the second headstone, according to Lee Hart, former commander of the Tom Smith Camp, was due to uncertainty regarding the exact location of Anthony Boone’s grave. Many of the graves were marked with cinderblocks that bore no identifying features.
“We knew that his brother Anthony was buried here at this cemetery, but we didn’t know where,” Hart said. “It’s only been about a year and a half ago or so that his wife (Lucy Spencer Boone) was located with him beside her, and it was confirmed.”
Lucy Boone’s stone is plainly marked.
“She has a little stone that you will see beside his – to the right,” Hart said. “That was a godsend.”