Society for Decendants of those Honored at Arlington National Cemetery

arlington-1865-aThere are numerous societies within the United States for different purposes. Many genealogical societies can be of great assistance for those working on the family tree. There is a society who have ancestors buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

One fact you may have come across in your research is that an ancestor may have been buried in Arlington National Cemetery, just outside of Washington, D. C. It serves as the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families. It is quite an honor to have a relative buried in this very prestigious national cemetery that cover 624 acres.

The original property is connected to two famous names in American history. This land once belonged to George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson of President Washington. Custis spent his life commemorating Washington and built Arlington House on the 1,100-acre plantation as a memorial to the first president. In 1857, Custis willed the property to his daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who in 1831 had married U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Robert E. Lee. The Lee family made their home at the Arlington House.

arlington-1899The Lee family vacated the property at the onset of the Civil War in April 1861 and the federal troops used the land as a camp and headquarters beginning on May 24, 1861.

During the war there was property tax dispute, amounting to just over $92.07 which the Mary Curtis Lee did not pay directly but rather through an agent, who was not accepted by the Federal government. The U.S. government then purchased the property for $26,800 at public tax auction in January 1864. Beginning then in 1864, the increasing number of fatalities was outpacing the burial capacity of Washington, D.C. cemeteries. To meet this demand, 200 acres of Arlington plantation was set aside as a military cemetery.

The first military burial took place on May 13, 1864, for Army Private William Henry Christman of Pennsylvania. On June 15, the War Department officially designated this burial space a national cemetery, thus creating Arlington National Cemetery. The first African-American to be buried there was William H. Johnson, an employee of President Lincoln. The President arranged for him to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Lincoln had Johnson’s name engraved on the tombstone, alongside the word “Citizen”. By April 1865, there had been thousands of burials of military service members.

Arlington-procedionIn 1874, Mary Custis Lee’s son (Custis Lee) sued the Federal government for the property and by 1882, it was ruled by the Supreme Court that the Lee family did not receive due process of law over their property. With that decision, Congress returned the estate to him, and on March 3, 1883 Custis Lee sold it back to the government for $150,000.


Using ‘Find A Grave‘ you can research any family surnames of burials in Arlington. If one is found, you might be interested in the society for Descendants of the Honored at Rest in Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington-DavidThe purpose of the society is to assist in perpetuating the memory of the thousands of Americans whose story and fate led them to be interred in the most hallowed ground in America. Membership is open to those persons who can claim direct descent from any individual interred in Arlington National Cemetery. Membership is also open to any person of collateral descent to any person interred in Arlington National Cemetery, provided the interred person had not offspring. Applicants must provide acceptable proof of relationship through each generation, as well as a brief biography of the honored at rest in Arlington National Cemetery including grave site section and site number. Further details are available at:

214 Orange Street, Suite A

Auburndale, FL 33823


E-Mail:     [email protected]

Photos: Arlington in 1865 and 1899; a full military service; and the headstones for Lt. Nan Everhart Kershaw and Capt. David G. Everhart (Plot: Section 10, plot 10623) – my mother and grandfather.

Related genealogy blogs:

Symbols on headstones at Arlington

Use Find A Grave

Military Veterans


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