Category Archives: Japan

Portsmouth, Virginia: Matilda Ella Hale Nakano, Mount Calvary Cemetery

Matilda Ella Hale Nakano - Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Portsmouth Va.

Matilda Hale Nakano – Mt. Calvary Cemetery, Portsmouth

One of the most talked about gravestones in the Mt. Calvary Cemetery Complex is for Mrs. Matilda Ella Hale Nakano. The daughter of Granville and Emma, I’ve traced her family roots to the late 18th century, in the counties of Hertford and Bertie, North Carolina. She married Charlie Kosuke Nakano in 1923, a recent immigrant from Kagoshima (prefecture), Japan. After she passed in 1927, Mr. Nakano remarried, but lost his second wife in 1936.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941, and the signing of Executive Order 9066, Mr. Nakano was sent to an internment camp near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m still piecing together the rest of his story.

Ella rests in Mt. Calvary Cemetery near the grave sites of several members of her extended family, including her grandmother, Christianna, who was born in 1818, Bertie County, North Carolina. Of additional interest are the inscriptions and symbols on her grave stone. Thanks to Mike Tretola and family, we know that the bottom inscription (kanji) indicates that Mr. Nakano made the headstone for Ella. At the top are representations of ivy, denoting eternal life or affection, and a crown and cross, representing redemption through faith, or the Kingdom of Heaven.

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Filed under Bertie County, Japan, Norfolk County, North Carolina, Portsmouth, Slavery, Stories in Stone, Tombstone Files, Tombstone Tales, Virginia