A wreath-laying ceremony fit for the descendants of a ‘king’

Posted: September 30, 2013

The Winchester Star

Rand Carter (left) leads a wreath-laying ceremony at Edmund Randolph’s grave in Old Chapel Cemetery in Clarke County on Saturday. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

MILLWOOD — Members of the Carter Society honored patriot Edmund Randolph on Saturday by laying a wreath at his grave in Old Chapel Cemetery in Clarke County.

Randolph, who died 200 years ago, married into the Carter family and died at nearby Carter Hall in Millwood, according to Rand Carter, the society’s board chairman.

“It is important for those who are interested in the founding of our country and want to know more about who those men were,” the Middletown, N.J., resident explained.

Randolph died in September 1813 at the age of 60 after an eventful life.

Born in 1753 in Williamsburg, he was an aide-de-camp (chief of staff) to Gen. George Washington during the Revolutionary War, a member of the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention, governor of Virginia, the nation’s first attorney general, and the U.S. Secretary of State.

A majority of the 52 society members who attended the three-day reunion came to the graveside ceremony.

Members of the society, which is a nonprofit family genealogical association, must be descended from Robert “King” Carter, who was the richest man in colonial America in the late 17th century and who left his descendants thousands of acres of land, including grandson Nathaniel Burwell, who built Carter Hall.

During the ceremony, Rand Carter praised Randolph’s life and contributions to American history.

The Rev. Elijah B. White III, rector of the Church of Our Savior at Oatlands in Leesburg, offered a prayer in his honor. White, who is also a member of the society, said he was proud to be part of the ceremony.

“It is a great thing to be here to honor a man who served his commonwealth before it was a commonwealth and his country before it was a country,” he said.

Paul B. Carter of St. Augustine, Fla., didn’t know much about Randolph before this weekend but found it fascinating to learn about his life.

This is the third Carter Society reunion for Paul Carter. He said it was a wonderful trip, between learning more about the family history and the reception the society members received at the Project HOPE Conference Center, now located in the mansion that was Carter Hall.

Since its formal organization in 2002, the society has visited sites throughout Virginia with connections to the Carter family, said Martha Carter Kirby of Durham, N.C. By visiting places like Carter Hall and the Old Chapel Cemetery, she feels a greater connection to the past.

“It gives you more of a sense of who you are and where you come from,” she said.

Robert Lumsden of Heathsville found the wreath-laying ceremony a wonderful way to honor a man who made important contributions but hasn’t received the recognition he deserves.

“He was not emphasized like he should have been. This was a nice way to commemorate what he accomplished in his life,” Lumsden said.

He said he became involved with the society because he loves genealogy and history and the organization offers an opportunity to put them together.

After the ceremony, many of the society members wandered through the cemetery looking for headstones with family connections.

— Contact Laura McFarland at lmcfarland@winchesterstar.com