Photo - Charles Belfield

History comes to life with a visit from Captain Samuel Cralle, Farmer’s Fork Grays.

Members of the Lancaster County Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy recently enjoyed a program by special guest speaker Charles Belfield. Belfield is well known for his participation in area genealogical and historical societies but interestingly, mentioned he only became interested in delving into his family’s roots about 18 years ago. He also shared “just how surprised and proud his high school history teacher would be if she could see what he has done as he wasn’t the most attentive of her students during class.”

His family has been in Richmond County since the early 1700s and Belfield described the appreciation he has for what his ancestors were able to do and the deep love he has for his farm as he walks the same ground they walked going back 10 generations.

In his research, he learned of the challenges and joys they likely experienced in order to carve out a life and establish a community and discovered the hardships when his ancestors left to fight in wars. He discovered he had ancestor’s that fought for the Nation’s independence from England during the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and by the 1860’s, when the threat of Northern aggression was inevitable, eleven of his ancestor’s went to join the Confederate Army to protect their homes and families. He is proud of the fact his family has lived on the same farm over this period of time except for a brief period right after the War Between the States when the farm had to be sold due to the devastation to the community right after War. A northerner bought and lived on the farm and upon his death, willed the property back to the family. 

The focus of his program was on young Samuel Cralle who had recently married Miss Sally Omohundro, when news of the War came. Samuel, age 20, along with other cousins and young men from the community left home to enlist at Heathsville.  They enlisted in Co. D, 40th Regiment, Virginia Infantry also as known as the Farmer’s Fork Grays. The company mustered in the Kinsale area where then Private Cralle was given a uniform, firearms and training before the Farmer’s Fork Grays marched to join the fight. They left Kinsale and marched through Montross where family were there to wave goodbyes as their loved ones left to join the fight at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, then on to the Battle of Cedar Mountain and the Battle of Fredericksburg. In the spring of 1863, the Farmer’s Fork Grays were again in the Fredericksburg area at the Battle of Chancellorsville where on May 2, Captain Samuel Cralle was killed in action when hit in the head with shrapnel from a cannon ball.

Belfield concluded the program by expressing how important it is to be a keeper of family history. With programs such as this, one easily concludes that doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but instead is breathing life into all who have gone before. “To be a story teller of the family’s history is not just finding them, but sometimes we sometimes can find parts of ourselves.”

The UDC is a genealogical society with a focus on historical, educational, benevolent, memorial and patriotic activities. Membership into the UDC is open to women ages 16 and older who have a Confederate ancestor that served honorably in the Army, Navy or Civil Service of the Confederate States of America or who provided material aid to the cause. If lineage cannot be established, there is still an opportunity to join the Chapter and participate in the activities as an Associate member. For more information about the Chapter’s activities, call 804-453-9156.