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Every once in awhile, don’t we all enjoy a Saturday afternoon drive through Virginia’s Piedmont region, hoping to enjoy the earliest hints of spring and perhaps grab a bite to eat in downtown Charlottesville near the picturesque UVA campus?

That’s the plan my family thought they signed up for when they got in the car with me earlier today.  But – oh amazing coincidence! – what were the odds that we would find ourselves within two miles of the final resting place of one of America’s most notable presidential biographers?  So what was I to do but reluctantly heed the call of history and visit Dumas Malone’s gravesite?

Unfortunately, without a detailed map of the cemetery I had no idea where to begin looking for Malone’s headstone.   To make things more challenging, upon entering the cemetery I stumbled upon a scene of minor desolation.  Just over two weeks ago the area endured a late winter blizzard which dumped 6″ or more of heavy, wet snow across the region.  What didn’t break under the weight of the snow was often blown over by heavy winds.

University of Virginia Cemetery and Columbarium (March, 2013: post-storm)

I ducked under fallen limbs, darted around uprooted trees and searched, searched, searched for Dumas Malone’s headstone.  But no luck.  Where ARE you Dumas Malone?!?  I even double-checked the online records to make sure I was in the right place (getting this wrong would have been quite embarrassing).

While I was standing in the middle of the cemetery, guess what appeared on my screen courtesy of my phone’s internet browser?

(Credit to “C’ville3rd” on findagrave.com who did manage to find the right spot)

Well, there we go – a lovely picture of Dumas Malone’s headstone!  Just like the one I was hoping to take.

For the record, my wife and youngest child remained in the car the whole time (one was asleep, the other playing a video game), blissfully unaware of the frenzied and chaotic search being executed unsuccessfully by my oldest child and me…

Dumas, I will be back, probably on my way to Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello later this spring.  But next time it’ll just be you and me – I don’t think my family will get suckered into that trip.

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