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July 2nd, 2006

 Big Bethel Cemetery, Hampton, VA

Big Bethel Cemetery is located next to the Big Bethel Reservoir, along Big Bethel Rd in Hampton, VA and across from the military base. It is located on military property and is not cared for often.  The grass grows high, a couple stones are knocked down and the gate surrounding it is not in great shape.  This was also the site of an important yet often overlooked Civil War battle, which destroyed the last church on this site. There is a Confederate Monument here as well as the cemetery. This gate is always locked and you cannot get in.  Photos were taken at the fence (through the fence).   The plaque on the gate is the only marker telling you the importance of this little cemetery; otherwise, people have driven past the tiny area never paying attention.  The plaque reads "Big Bethel Church and Cemetery:  Bethel Church moved to this location from Hampton in 1842.  The original church built here--the Third Bethel Church was destroyed during the Civil War.  The individuals interred here were members of the Big Bethel Baptist Church congregation who died between the construction of the Fourth Big Bethel Church in 1876 and it's closure in 1926. The grave marker inscriptions are online at  Some burials were relocated to the other cemeteries in the 1920's and a lit of those interments is not available at this time. Steadfast Faith: The Proving Years, by Elizabeth Page Smith documents the history of Bethel Baptist Church.  Bethel Baptist Church now meets on Yorktown Road in Tabb, Virginia, at its sixth church.  The tall obelisk commemorating the Battle of Big Bethel, which took place on June 10, 1861, was erected by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in 1905.  Most of the battle took place within a half mile radius of the third Bethel Church.  The battle was the first significant battle of the Civil War and the first Confederate victory.  The third Bethel Church location is now submerged, and most of the battlefield is submerged or developed.

     Left to right: 1) Various graves 2) More graves 3) Grave with Gothic Fence around it 4) Molly and James Watkins 5) Mitchell Headstone.


Left to right: 1) A Civil War Soldier's marker 2) View of entire tiny cemetery across from Base Housing 3) Marker to commemorate Battle of Big Bethel.  It says "To Commemorate the Battle of Big Bethel, June 10, 1861. The first conflict between the confederate and Federal Land Forces and in memory of Henry Wyatt Pvt. Co A 1st Regiment North Carolina Volunteers the First Confederate Soldier to fall in actual battle."


 Informative or interesting links:

List of people buried in Big Bethel Cemetery

My page on the Battle of Big Bethel

My page on Endview Plantation

My page on Lee Hall Mansion


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