Beck Tract: Finding the Rev. James Beck Graveyard

Beck-TractI recently became obsessed with finding the graveyard where Rev. James Beck and his wife Lucy are buried. I was convinced that it was somewhere near Crane Rd. since I’d seen a reference to it being on Rt. 744. So I diligently searched the county GIS site for any tiny parcels that might be a cemetery and even made calls to landowners in that area…all to no avail.

Having found in an old article the name of the family who owned the property in the 1960’s, I went to Chatham thinking I could easily discover a deed that would tell me where that land was or possibly even a map with the graveyard indicated on it. I did not, however I did find a map from 1906 of the “Beck Tract” which I knew would be the right land. Now I had a map but no idea how to place this tract on the face of the earth, as there were no good landmarks or roads shown on it. Finally, after reading through several more old deeds, I ran across one that described the land as being about two miles southwest of Mt. Hermon Church. This didn’t align with where I was searching at all.

The graveyard is only about 100 feet from Ridgecrest Drive. You can see where the lines of the old "Beck Tract" match up almost perfectly with the modern day property lines.

I finally realized that there is another part of Rt. 744, present-day Ridgecrest Drive, and that is where I should have been looking all along. Once I looked there, I saw that the present-day land parcels line up near perfectly with the old map. The Beck Tract is outlined in red on the modern day GIS image, with the graveyard indicated by the white diamond. After all that digging, the graveyard was found only about 100 feet from Ridgecrest Drive. And it’s even indicated as a cemetery on the county GIS map, even though the parcel outline is off substantially.

Click here for a little history on some troubles between the church and the reverend.

Rev-James-BeckPictured here are the gravestones of Rev. James Beck and his wife Lucy and an overview image of the cemetery. He was an early preacher in the Strawberry Primitive Baptist Church. Lucy’s maiden name was Dickenson. They married in Pittsylvania County in 1817.Lucy-H-Beck