National Geographic : 1938 Jul
ROADS FROM WASHINGTON "THE GRAVE OF THE FEMALE STRANGER" KEEPS HER SECRET FOREVER One autumn day, more than a century ago, there arrived at a hotel in Alexandria, Virginia, a gentleman accompanied by a lady who was ill. The taciturn man gave no information except to a doctor and a nurse who, sworn to secrecy, never divulged it. At the lady's death, her companion purchased a lot in St. Paul's Cemetery and paid for this tomb with drafts on England. In part, the inscription reads: "Female stranger, whose mortal suffering terminated on the 14th day of October, 1816. aged 23 years, 8 months. Stone placed by her disconsolate husband, in whose arms she sighed her latest breath, and who, under God, did his utmost to soothe the cold dead ear of death." schoolhouses with fat iron stoves and oil lamps. To the hill children in one of them I gave the ragged American flag from the grave of Francis Scott Key. As they saluted it, I asked them what it meant. "It means freedom; it means we haven't got a king," said one little girl. "What does it mean to you?" I asked a big boy in the back row. "Nothin'. But, mister, did yuh know Dan'l Boone shot a bear down the road a ways?" The Virginia-West Virginia State line, following a divide, meanders so much that at one point in Virginia a hiker may walk three miles north, south, east, or west and go out of the State. Through this forested mountainous region I drove south to old Sweet Springs to see the only general store designed by Thomas Jefferson. Actually, Jefferson planned only the once-fashionable hotel there, its pillared porticoes vaguely reminiscent of Monticello. Only a corner of one wing nearest the high way is occupied-by an old-fashioned gen eral store. The people still tell how Jerome Bona parte, brother of Napoleon, courted Betty Patterson here. His marriage to the Balti more belle displeased Napoleon, and be came a topic of conversation all over the world. For years, though still furnished, the hotel has been closed and the old piano gathers dust in a silent ballroom.