The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Delayed Funeral

By N. C. Jackson © 1986

Issue: October, 1986

William Lynch Faddis, August 16, 1836 - January 6, 1884.William Lynch Faddis, August 16, 1836 - January 6, 1884.As a child I often heard of Pappy's grave filling from my grandmother and great-grandmother.

William Lynch Faddis (1836 1884) was my great-grandfather. He lived in the Elk Horn section near Woodlawn, Virginia. This man was a Confederate Veteran and a member of a Masonic lodge. His death came following a severe January blizzard like storm. Neighbors carried the body up the steep hill to the family graveyard, which was on the family farm. Because of the severe cold weather only a few people, mostly men, attended the burial. In the absence of a minister a short Bible reading and prayer was rendered by a neighbor. The grave was only half filled. An "A" type shelter was built over the partly filled grave.

On a Sunday in June, the same year, a delayed funeral service was held. Following the religious service members of the several nearby Masonic lodges formed and did the grave service in a manner as if the body were being buried on that day. The family stood by while the grave was being filled. At the close of the service members of the Masonic lodges were invited to go by the Faddis residence for lunch. It was reported that the family fed 133 men and horses of those who rode horseback.

In preparation for the lunch a sheep had been slaughtered. The mutton and hams were boiled in large iron pots outside of the house. Large loaves of bread and pound cake had been baked. The food was served under large oak trees at the family farm house.

A chestnut rail fence was around the meadow that was near the house. The split rails were nailed to locust post. Visiting Masonic's hitched their horses to posts along the fence. The Faddis' boys took oats that were cut with a cradle and tied in bundles, and corn to feed the horses. Each horse owner approved the number of ears that the horse was to be feed. Over feeding could cause "colic" to the animal.

Joseph Jackson (1846 1928) my grandfather, married Sarah Faddis (1858 1935), the oldest child of William Faddis. They lived on the Cripple Creek road, about two miles from Shepard's Store. Shepard's Store is in the Fries - Ivanhoe area. Apparently William Faddis had been sick several weeks and his daughter, Sarah, was visiting her ill father. Joseph was enroute to the Faddis residence, hopefully to bring his wife home when his father in law died. He was riding one horse and leading the other. The horse that Grandma was to ride home had a side saddle. Women did not wear pants and side saddles were needed for modesty.

Several inches of snow was on the ground. An ice storm followed the snow fall; causing a hard crust to form on the snow. A man could walk on the ice, but a horse would break through the crust. The ice severely injured the ankles of the horses.

When Joseph crossed New River he learned that William Faddis had died. A.M. Jennings kept the horses and my grandfather walked to the Faddis home. The reason for leaving the horses behind was because of the damage the ice was causing to the legs of the animals.

Matilda Roberts Faddis Cox was the widow of William Faddis. Her second marriage was to Nathan Cox. They lived in the Coal Creek Community, near Galax, Virginia until Mr. Cox died. Grandma Cox would make annual visits to my grandparents. We lived nearby my grandparent's home. It was always very entertaining to hear her tell of the hard ships and the way of life during the Civil War period. The illness and death of William Faddis, father of her children was often related. She went into great detail to tell of preparation of food and the events concerning the delayed funeral and grave filling. Our grandmother told us the same stories.

After the Civil War many families were not financially able to provide extra food for the large number of visiting Free Masons, and to furnish feed for the horses as did the Faddis family.

Conversations with older men suggest that delayed funeral services and Masonic grave filling rites were fairly common. In those days embalming of bodies was not possible in rural areas. The body had to be quickly buried. No telephones were available. It took time to get the preacher of the families' choice and to assemble the lodge members. These services were sometimes held several weeks after the death. Usually they were held on Sunday which made it possible for a large number of people to attend.