ATLANTIC, Va. (AP) — The road behind Accomack County's North Landfill is muddy and slippery, and Stewart Hall shifts his Toyota pickup into four-wheel drive as a precaution.
The small burial ground appears on the right — two gravestones, three internments and one hulking rose bush, all closely framed on two sides by the massive landfill mound.
The grass is short and neat. The surroundings are well-kept and spotless. But either the gravesite or the landfill is out of place. And the landfill isn't moving.
"I think there are more suitable places on the property, that's for sure," said Hall, Accomack's director of public works, of the graves.
So Accomack is reaching out to the descendants of David Byrd Miles (1836-1926), Mary Jane Taylor Miles (1842-1931) and their daughter, Olivia Miles (1872-1901), the three whose bodies are interred there.
They have found one distant relative, and want to find more.
County officials are advertising their search as far away as Baltimore. Thanks to some genealogy help at the Eastern Shore Public Library, they learned some descendants moved to the Baltimore area.
Hall would like to have them come together and decide on a better place for the gravesite on the massive landfill grounds.
He has a spot he would recommend — it is a short distance from the access road, at the edge of a wooded area, near a stream.
But he would take any recommendations the Miles family has.
"We'd like to work with the family," he said. "We'd be glad to show them around the property."
Through the years on the Eastern Shore, roads, municipal projects and other endeavors have unearthed bones from family gravesides. But those markers were long gone when construction began.
At the landfill, the two tombstones are prominent and desolate, located on the opposite side of the landfill mound from the access road.
It is easy to picture the surroundings as an erstwhile family farm, where such plots would have been commonplace.
Even today it is as peaceful as the inscription on the grave of Olivia Miles.
"She liked the rose bloomed a few days, but now lies silent in the grave," it reads.
"She will not return to us but we may go to her."
The grave site at this point is important real estate for Accomack. The landfill cell likely will reach capacity in 2017.
Being able to expand into the area where the graves, and "piggyback" on the existing cell, could be a major savings for the county, Hall said.
People who are descended from or related to the Miles family of Greta Road are asked to contact the public works department at 757-787-1468 or the Accomack County attorney at 757-787-5799.
Before leaving and driving back around the muddy road, Hall stood and looked at the graves. Keeping the reverence of the family plot is important, even when a landfill mound towers behind him.
"I want to be respectful to the family," he said. "That's the main thing in all of this."