Descendants dedicate headstone to ancestor

For more than 75 years, the descendants of Stephen Tarpley have held family reunions, and this year, over the Fourth of July weekend, more than 270 descendants reunited in Danville, Virginia and dedicated a headstone to their ancestor, buried at Union Hall Baptist Church.

Tarpley and his wife, Delaware “Della,” bore 13 children. The reunion in Danville represented five of those children. Tarpley has approximately 1,800 descendents through seven generations, many of them still living in Pittsylvania County.

The family alternates between the North and South each year for “food, fun and family time,” according to Lisa Sanford, one of Tarpley’s great-great-granddaughters.

“In the spring of 1998, a couple of us cousins started doing genealogy research to verify the oral stories we were told about our slave ancestors and a news article written about Stephen in 1939,” Sanford said. “Being new to genealogy research, we were advised that it was very hard for African-American descendents of slaves to track their family history.” Read more . . .

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