He also provided the following fascinating comments:
...I’m afraid I can’t provide much information on the Thrift family, but I do know some things about the Reid Cemetery where Major Thrift was originally buried and hope that this will be of interest to you.
It is well known here (among folks who know about John Ballard and the Ox Hill battle) that Major Thrift was the father of Mary “Lillie” Reid Thrift Ballard. But I just looked in my Ballard file and found no middle initial for James Thrift. And his name on the Confederate monument is simply engraved “Maj. James Thrift”.Did the “James W. Thrift” come from the cemetery office?I’ve never checked there to see if they had a written record.Also, John Ballard was a Lieutenant in Mosby’s command. It seems that “Captain” was an honorary title bestowed by local citizens according to Richard Thompson who wrote an article on Ballard for the Historical Society’s 1986-88 Yearbook.
Cemetery File # 308 (Virginia Room, Fairfax Library) contains a genealogy chart for the descendants of John Reid. It lists no MI for James Thrift (husband of Lucretia Reid), but says he died in 1862 and is buried in the Reid Family Cemetery. According to John Devine’s history of the 8th Virginia Infantry, “Major James Thrift” (again, no MI) was mortally wounded at the Battle of Seven Pines, May 31st.His roster info adds “d. of wds. 6/3/62.” So evidently, his body was brought home and buried in the Reid Cemetery (presumably next to Lucretia).
In 1965, a developer (Victor Hanger) bought what was then known as the “Albrecht Tract”, and filed suit to remove six graves from the Reid Cemetery which was part and parcel of the tract. [After Mary Ballard’s death in 1927, the farm was partitioned among the heirs. Daughter Margaret inherited a 50 acre tract which contained both the house and the cemetery. The partition did not legally separate the cemetery from the land. Margaret later married August Albrecht, but died in 1943. Her husband continued to live there until he died in 1964. The house and land (with the cemetery) were then sold to Hanger.]
Hanger’s lawsuit was reported in a local newspaper. The article says that the only gravestone in the cemetery was that of “Lucretia M. Reid Thrift, 1825-1851.” Presumably, James Thrift’s remains were also found when the cemetery was probed. All the remains were removed to Fairfax Cemetery where the Confederate monument is located (and where the Ballards are buried). The article further states that “the company has been unable to determine the descendants of the woman, or the identities of others buried in the plot.”The suit then names as defendants the following individuals: “Henry Lyle Millan, 116 Cedar Ave. (Fairfax); Mrs. F. Lambert Byrne, Indianapolis, Ind.; John A, Millan, Foster, Va. (Mathews County); the Rev. J. P. H. Mason, Doswell, Va.; and other unknown descendants of a body or bodies allegedly buried in a family burial site formerly owned by Mary Reid Ballard.”
Mrs. Byrne was Varina, the youngest of the Ballard children, who inherited the 27 acre tract surrounding the Kearny and Stevens monument lot. I assume there might be Byrne descendants in the Indianapolis area. [There are 72 Ballards and eight Thrifts listed in the Northern Virginia phone book] According to the genealogy chart, James W. Ballard’s children are deceased, but three of the four grandchildren may still be living—don’t know how old this chart is. Two were girls, so their names and those of their children might be different now. Robert Thrift Ballard and Georgia Blanche Sisson had no children; Lillie T. Ballard and Isaac T. Long had an infant that died in 1915, but no other children are listed; John P. Ballard (unmarried) died in the Philippines in 1909; Ella Ballard was unmarried; Margaret and August Albrecht had no children; but Varina and F. Lambert Byrne had two sons, John and Robert (no birth or death dates).
In 1965, Hanger demolished the house, subdivided the property and constructed 23 single family homes. He also built an asphalt cul-de-sac directly on top of, and completely covering the old cemetery. I first noticed what he had done in 1987 when I plotted the cemetery location from an old aerial photograph onto a tax map that showed the development. Of course my immediate suspicion was that not all the graves had been found in the 1965 probe (six graves seemed too few) and that Hanger knew or suspected this, and so configured his lots and streets to cover the cemetery with the cul-de-sac.
When a new developer started buying up the single family homes in the late 1980s and had gotten the land rezoned for townhouses, I sent a letter to the company, with a copy to the county, urging that the site of the Reid/Ballard House be marked and memorialized as a landmark of the Ox Hill battle.The house’s foundation stones and other ruble were pushed into its cellar in 1965 and lay buried next to a garage. I also offered my belief that more than six graves were in the old cemetery, and that any construction in the vicinity of the cul-de-sac should be closely monitored in case more graves still existed under the asphalt.
Years passed. The original developer spun off the project to other developers and construction began with multiple builders involved. In 1999, a subcontractor digging a trench unearthed bones and coffin hardware only a few feet from the front stoops of brand new townhouses. They had been built on a portion of the old cemetery—just the situation that I thought might occur when I set the letter in 1989. Five more graves were found. The remains were removed to Fairfax Cemetery and placed in the same common grave with the six remains reinterred in 1965.
The developer or someone—I don’t know who—then placed a stone on the common grave (previously, it had been unmarked. Do not know what happened to Lucretia’s stone). The choice of words on the new stone is not what I would have chosen, as it is non-specific, inaccurate, and lacks known information regarding many of the people reinterred there. It says simply “Reid-Ballard Family Circa 1900”.Some years ago, I inquired at the cemetery office about the possibility of local Civil War groups erecting a new stone that would account for James Thrift and also provide information about the exhumation in 1965 and the subsequent discovery of more graves in 1999. The answer I got was that only family members or descendants could change the stone. ... Ed Wenzel