Newsflash! Solution to Mystery of a Tombstone Found in a VA River

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A tombstone was found in a river...
A tombstone was found in a river…

There was a tombstone that was discovered in a river in Augusta County. The name was not clear, but what was decipherable included the words, “daughter of J. & S. J. Sutton, born May 17, 1869, died March 18, 1889.”

What was the name on the stone? Who did it belong to?

Tombstone: SUTTON

The name on the stone, if the woman had been unmarried, was Martha C. Sutton. She was the daughter of Joshua and Sallie J. Sutton. But just a little research revealed much more than this.

Joshua was married to Sarah Jane Ralston. Sallie is a common abbreviation for the name Sarah. This couple proved to be prolific. Martha C. married at age 18 to Ambrose T. Wilkerson of Augusta County, Virginia. He appears to have been born in 1865, though possibly the year was 1864.

Tombstone: Wilkerson

Ambrose was the son of Anthony and Mary Shumake Wilkerson of Virginia. Martha Sutton and Ambrose were married in December of 1887. Ambrose’s wife died in the spring of 1889. It seems very likely the cause of her death was childbirth, though, of course, it is quite possible some serious illness brought about on her demise.

Ambrose remarried one B. Loma, who may have been formerly married to a Thomas Loma. Ambrose and B. parented at least two children: M.C. (female, and probably named for Ambrose’s mother, Mary C.) and Cecil L. Wilkerson. Ambrose died in 1947 and is buried in the Verona United Methodist Church Cemetery alongside his 2nd wife, B. Loma Wilkerson, who died in 1943.

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