Before Shenandoah National Park and the Skyline Drive were established as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic response to the Great Depression, hundreds of families called these mountains “home.” My Fraziers (3G and 4G grandparents) were among them. Their presence is recorded in land records from the 1700s, but in the 1930s, the last of the Frazier families moved away from what became park land.
At one time Miley Frazier, my 3G grand uncle, owned over 1,000 acres of land on what was once called Frazier Mountain, now Loft Mountain. At his death he gave each of his children 200 acres. Over time, those children divided the land further among their own children. By the 1930s only 8 Frazier families actually had deeds to property on Loft Mountain, but more Frazier families were there tending other landowners’ farms in exchange for living on the land.
In the 1960s Loft Mountain Campground and The Deadening Nature Trail were built.
|Scanned from Frazier Discovery Trail brochure|
The trail was so named because at the time, the trees still showed signs of having been “deadened” by the mountain people, that is, girdled with an axe in order to kill the trees quickly so that they could plant orchards and cultivate fields for cattle. With new growth, the signs of deadening disappeared, and so the name made no sense. The trail was renamed Frazier Discovery Trail in 1999 to honor the long history between this family and this mountain.
The trail is a short and easy hike, only 1.3 miles. Two noteworthy features are the overhanging rock cliff
|from Google Images|
and the overlook where the Frazier trail joins the Appalachian Trail for a short distance.
|from Google Images|
Two more features are more personal. Right off the trail are the ruins of the Frazier cabin dating from the early 1800s (which I posted about HERE)
|Photo by Kevin Frazier|
and a family cemetery.
|Family cemetery behind the cabin|
Photo by Kevin Frazier
There are at least 50 graves behind the Frazier cabin. Only the tombstones of Jackson and Fannie Morris Frazier remain (1st cousin 4 times removed and his wife). I believe my 2G grandmother Lucy Ann Shiflett Jollett could be buried there. She and James Franklin Jollett were living near her mother and her Frazier uncles and cousins in the 1880 Greene County, Virginia census. She died four years later, so it is likely she is one of the 50. It is equally likely that her father Burton Shiflett is there. Maybe even the notorious LelandFrazier is there.
The mind races contemplating the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins that might be buried not far from this popular hiking trail.