Holmberg: The adventure of the 156-year-old carved-stone grafitti

Posted at 11:46 PM, Sep 10, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-10 23:46:14-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Our adventure begins with some bored Confederate soldiers guarding what is now a very historic site on private property in a beautiful and rather remote location on the outskirts of Richmond.

Nancy Henderson knew her great-grandfather was one of those bored soldiers. She also knew that he was one of those who carved their names and other etchings in the high coping of the hidden installation 150-plus years ago.

You might call it early military graffiti, but it was significant enough for the Richmond-Times Dispatch to chronicle the etchings in a 1950 article.

The etchings are her and her family's lone connection to her great-grandfather, and she hasn't seen them since she was much younger, well before the property was sold.



Her son and grandchildren have never seen them.

Are the etchings still visible? And could her family come see them?

So, off I went to find her answers on this stormy Thursday.

I got soaked clearing away vines and moss. Like the movie National Treasure, the carvings weren’t legible until the sunlight finally came out and hit the wet surfaces. Clearly, more than one soldier had carved into the coping.

The owners of the property were gracious and informative, but want their privacy.

Nancy and her family got the green light for a visit. And I had a blast!

Watch the video to see the etchings come to life.

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