In The News Archives - 2008 and earlier

20 December 2008 - Charleston Gazette:

Grave offenses: Vandals won't leave Teays Hill Cemetery at peace
By Veronica Nett
Staff Writer

PHOTOS from the Charleston Gazette

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Vandals are disturbing the peace and racking up quite a bill at Teays Hill Cemetery. Over the past eight years, vandals have caused more than $10,000 worth of damage to headstones and grave markers in the St. Albans cemetery.

Over the past eight years, vandals have caused more than $10,000 worth of damage to headstones and grave markers in the St. Albans cemetery.

Every year, five to 20 monuments are broken, knocked over or stolen from the nearly 200-year-old cemetery, said Philip Smith, president of the Teays Hill Cemetery Association.

On Halloween alone, vandals knocked over or broke 18 monuments, Smith said.

"If there's vandalism to a monument, it's usually kids that go out and decide they want to have some fun," said Lajeana Aldredge, secretary treasurer of the West Virginia Cemetery Funeral Association.

"I don't think they're taught respect anymore. If you can't respect those that have gone before you, how can you respect the living?" Aldredge said. "It's sad."

The majority of vandalism and theft reported at cemeteries across the state is also related to drugs and alcohol, Aldredge said.

The root of the problem at Teays Hill, however, is a lack of security, Smith said. 

Teays Hill shares an access road with a privately owned home situated near the property. At night, the cemetery's gates remain unsecured so the residents can get to and from their home, he said.

A solution to the problem is to buy the home.

But money is an issue.

The Teays Hill Association must raise between $40,000 and $60,000 to purchase the property and is asking Putnam County residents or families who have loved ones in the cemetery to make a donation.

The 30-acre cemetery is the final resting place to more than 7,000 people dating back to 1813. Those buried include local residents in addition to some of the area's early doctors, judges, senators, mayors, bankers, housewives, slaves and veterans from War of 1812 through the Vietnam War.

There are still more than 3,000 gravesites available at the historical cemetery, and about 25 to 30 people are buried there each year.

Every year for more than a decade it's the same thing, Smith said. Families are rightfully upset about what's going on in the cemetery, he said.

"They're upset about it, you better believe it," Smith said. "Calls, calls, calls; the week of Halloween I got half a million."

The majority of vandalism now, appears to be done by adults, he said.

"They've found a place to have a party," he said. "The gates are not locked and they get under one of the street lights ... and get together and drink beer, then if they get drunk they have fun." 

To the vandals, pushing the headstones and monuments over is a game, he said.

It's also disrespectful and cutting into money the association would use to keep up the grounds, he said.

The Teays Hill Cemetery Association, a nonprofit organization, is responsible for all upkeep and repairs to headstones and markers.

"It takes money," Smith said. "We live on our trust fund and can only make repairs as the money becomes available."

Once the house is purchased, the association would install 600 feet of fencing on the West Main Street side of the cemetery.

"We'd also like to build a small office," Smith said. "It's kind of hard to handle funerals and dealing with people and the paperwork when you have to do it on the hood of my truck. But I've done a lot of them that way."

The cemetery is located just outside St. Albans city limits, which the town's police department does not patrol, Smith said. Whenever vandalism is discovered, the Kanawha County Sheriff's Department is notified, he said.

Over the years, the sheriff's department has caught some of the vandals, Smith said. The arrests, however, have not deterred further vandalism, he said.

The only foreseeable solution to the problem is to buy the house and start locking the cemetery at night, he said.

Donations to the Teays Hill Cemetery Association can be sent to P.O. Box 824, St. Albans, WV 25177.

While supplies last, those who make a donation also will receive from the St. Albans Historical Society a registry of all those buried in Teays Hill.

Reach Veronica Nett at veroni...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113

[Our thanks to WVCPA volunteers for sharing the above article with us!] 

29 September 2008 - Charleston Gazette:

Brush cutting reveals historic Cross Lanes cemetery
By Rick Steelhammer
Gazette Staff writer

CROSS LANES, W.Va. - To many residents of Cross Lanes, the topic of local history is not likely to extend farther back than the time Lake Chaweva was created (1934) or even to the era before the construction of the dog track (1984), as Tri-State Race Track & Gaming Center is locally known.

In this sprawling suburban community of mostly post-1970s subdivisions, time marches onward as slowly and steadily as rush hour traffic on Big Tyler Road, yet there are few historic landmarks available for reflection on the past.

But when brush and small trees were recently cleared from a slope adjacent to the Cross Lanes Family Practice building on Big Tyler Road, a connection with one of the community's first settler families emerged from the shadows.

It's the burial plot of the family of James Roberts, who was born in Bedford County, Va., in 1782, and moved to Kanawha County in the early 1800s.

According to "History of the Cross Lanes Area" by Julia Galbraith, Roberts first settled in Charleston, but later moved to a farm site near the headwaters of Tuppers Creek before buying 750 acres in what is now Cross Lanes in 1816.

The land was part of a vast land grant awarded to Joshua Fry, who commanded George Washington's Virginia militia regiment during the French and Indian War. In 1754, Washington was put in charge of the regiment after Fry fell off his horse and died during a march to a French fort near present-day Pittsburgh. The Cross Lanes area was once known as Fry in deference to the regimental commander and his heirs.

In 1795, George Blake bought a portion of Fry's land grant, and sold James Roberts his 1.2-square-mile chunk of the property 21 years later.

According to the Galbraith account, the Roberts plantation included "all the land from Ruth McClung's place to Point Harmony School and about a mile across to what is the Stonestreet Trailer Park on Cross Lanes Drive."

Roberts married 16-year-old Sarah W. Halley in Campbell County, Va., in 1808. Four years later, the bride gave birth to the first of the couple's 11 children.

The cemetery's first burial may have been that of Sarah Halley Roberts' mother, Nancy Williamson Halley, who died on May 2, 1839, at the age of 67. Her clearly legible marker, which now lies flat on the cemetery grounds, is the oldest of seven marked gravesites still visible.

James and Sarah Roberts are buried side by side, their graves now separated by a tall poplar tree. James Roberts died in 1842, while his wife survived 20 years longer. "Blessed are the dead who died in the Lord," reads the inscription on her marker, while her husband's bears the quotation from Psalm 71:20 "Thou shalt quicken me up again and shalt bring me up again from the depths of the earth."

Four of the couple's six sons fought for the Confederate army during the Civil War, and most left the state, one moving as far as California, after returning to civilian life. Son Richard Roberts took over the farm following his father's death, and bought out his siblings' shares of the property.

According to "History of the Cross Lanes Area," Richard Roberts raised cattle and grain, and under his management, the property "increased in value tenfold."

Richard Roberts died in 1908, and is buried in the plot along Big Tyler Road. The most recently dated marker lies over the final resting place of his sister Rosa R. Roberts, who died in 1909.

But there may have been burials other than Roberts family members in the cemetery. According to Galbraith's book, "There was a burial ground ... where James Roberts is buried with his slaves and some of his family."

"I heard that slaves were buried here, at the other end of the cemetery from where the family members are buried," said Helen Harper, who lives in the vicinity of the graveyard. "They may have had wooden markers that didn't last very long," she said, or perhaps fieldstones or no markers at all were used.

"Some of the family members were buried at one end, and on the other end there were slaves," agreed Goble Mundy, who lived next to the cemetery until about six years ago and now lives in a different section of Cross Lanes. "I don't know whether that's true or not, but that's what I heard."

Mundy said that when he lived next to the plot, he cleared it of brush every summer, kept an eye out for vandals, and "kept the markers standing up."

"Lillies and tulips would come up here in the spring," said Harper, who added that few people outside the immediate perimeter of the cemetery are probably aware of its existence."

"There are fewer markers here than there used to be," she said. "I hope this place can be saved."

[Our thanks to WVCPA volunteer Alice Click for sharing the above article with us!] 

12 September 2008 - WCHS Eyewitness News Channel 8 (ABC) in Charleston:

Helping Hands Sprucing Up a Cemetery
Reported by: Meredith Wood
Videographer: Jim Reed
Web Producer: Meredith Wood
Updated: September 12, 2008 7:08pm
on WCHS Web site

COTTAGEVILLE - [Full story/video link]

Cherry Grove Cemetery in Cottageville is in need of a little TLC.

Robert Nichols, Jackson County, "Some head stones were leaning, just an overall face lift, make it look nice again."

People in the community teamed up with Coca Cola workers to replace the 25 year old fence.

Robert Nichols works for coke, he asked the company to help fix up the cemetery.

His father-in-law is buried here and now his mother-in-law is in hospice care.

Robert's wife Carrie says this would lift her mother's spirits.

Carrie Nichols, Jackson County, "She wanted something taken care of because it just looked so bad."

The weather forecast wasn't good but Nichols says some one was looking out for them.

Robert Nichols, "My father-in-law is up there blowing the clouds away."

The cemetery was built before West Virginia was even a state.

Curators Martin and Sharon Hartley couldn't be happier with the help.

Martin Hartley, Curator. "There's some work to it, but there's some enjoyment."

And they say families with loved ones here are already singing the praises.

Sharon Hartley, Curator, "There's still a lot of relatives around of the older graves and I think they're just thrilled."

But one thing Carrie Nichols knows for sure, the time and energy these workers put in will live on for many years to come.

Carrie Nichols, "It's amazing I've been weepy all day just knowing that they are doing this for my mom."

If you want to help fund a sign for the cemetery, there will be a hot dog sale tomorrow from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M..

The cemetery is on Cow Run Road in Cottageville.

[Our thanks to WVCPA volunteer Alice Click for sharing the above article with us, and especially to
Robin King (sister of Carrie Nichols), who let us know this great event was taking place this weekend!] 

18 July 2008 - Parkersburg News and Sentinel:

Help for rural cemeteries sought
By Pamela Brust

PARKERSBURG - Wood County Historic Commission officials asked the county commission for support in trying to spruce up and maintain the smaller rural cemeteries.

"We were forwarded a recent letter from visitors who came to the area from Texas expressing their disappointment in the lack of upkeep of the local cemeteries. We've talked to the Landmarks Commission about this as well, it's something we've been concerned about for some time. It's not the cemeteries in the city, they are under control now. These are tombstones, smaller cemeteries in the rural areas. They are all over, but many of them are out of sight, and we can't forget them. We don't want them to become lost," Bob Enoch said. There are more than 320 cemeteries in the county.

"We know there are more. Some are being cared for by family members, property owners, farmers, many are not being maintained and will be lost. You are the only ones we can turn to for help, it's a big problem. The solution isn't going to be easy. We are planning on having a public meeting to gauge interest, but in the end it will come down to support from you all. It is very sad to see the condition of some of these cemeteries," Enoch said.

He noted there are maintenance programs in neighboring Ohio and Kentucky for these types of cemeteries.

"They have taxes that help with maintenance," Enoch said. "In Ohio, township trustees have the responsibility, but there is a tax that helps fund this program," Enoch said.

"In Wadesville, neighbors and others contribute money to maintain the cemetery out there. I think we would be interested in hearing what possible solutions they have found in other areas. It is a problem. You have the list of them. Are there living family members who might be interested in helping out?" Commission president Bob Tebay asked.

"I'm hoping that our public meeting will draw attention to this," Enoch said, he did not have a time or date for the meeting yet. He noted 35-40 of the cemeteries have trustees.

"But that mean guarantee perpetual maintenance either," Tebay noted.

"People over the years have done work on these cemeteries, this list is fairly complete, but I know there are others, and we need a complete inventory of all of them," Enoch said. "Families may have lost contact, and may not know about these cemeteries."

"I think the public meeting will be your first step. We are certainly in support of your efforts," commissioner Blair Couch said.

Enoch said there is a preservation fund set up through the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, and possibly contributions could be set up through that fund to go toward upkeep for the rural cemeteries.

[Our thanks to WVCPA contributor Joey Boggess for sharing the above article with us! 
This article recently appeared online on the News and Sentinel web site - contact the newspaper with any inquiries] 

23 April 2008 - Charleston Daily Mail - Charleston, WV:

Tombstone found on SC houseboat came from West Virginia
by The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A century-old tombstone found on a South Carolina houseboat came from a cemetery in West Virginia and may have been missing for more than 60 years.

The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier reports a private investigator read the paper's story on Monday and used U.S. Census data to find the family of the boy, memorialized with the inscription: "Infant son of R.W. & E.J. Hypes.''

Descendants of the family told the paper they think the boy was first buried in a family plot in Littlesburg, W.Va., after he died in 1894, then moved to a nearby cemetery with their parents in 1953.

The family says the tombstone has probably been missing more than 60 years.

The boy would have been the great-uncle of 54-year-old Blaine Hype, who says the find has caused quite a stir.

The family plans to drive to South Carolina to retrieve the tombstone.

Police say they have no idea how the tombstone ended up in cabinet on the houseboat.

[Our thanks to WVCPA volunteer Alice Click for sharing the above article with us!] 

24 February 2008 - Charleston Gazette:

Hawks Nest worker graves lay forgotten for decades
By Rick Steelhammer
Gazette Staff writer

SUMMERSVILLE - As traffic roared along U.S. 19 atop a nearby embankment, Richard Hartman strolled through a narrow, trash-strewn finger of land nestled between the freeway and a turnaround for a dead-end secondary road... 
Read the rest of this article from the Gazette Archives

[Our thanks to WVCPA volunteer Alice Click for sharing the above article with us!] 

2 September 2007 - The Times West Virginian - Fairmont, WV:

Looking back
Author focuses on Fairmont’s cemeteries
By John Veasey, Times  West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Have you ever thought you would like to take an afternoon sometime and go visit one or more of Fairmont’s cemeteries and learn about some of the interesting people buried there?

Well, take notice. Gena Wagaman has done that for you. And she has done it in a very interesting, 128-page pictorial entitled “Images of America — Fairmont’s Cemeteries.”

There are many good photographs, many taken by Wagaman and others from area historic collections for the soft-cover edition, with excellent information to go with each.

It is a part of Fairmont’s culture perhaps never covered in this manner previously.

For instance, the cover shows a photograph taken in 1921 of a monument to Col. Zackquill Morgan being unveiled at the Pricketts Fort cemetery

How did she get the idea for the book?

“I saw an ad that Aracadia Press was looking for new ideas,” she said. “And people have been telling me I should write a book about cemeteries. So I made a proposal, and they accepted it. And we went from there.”

Where did her interest come from?

“It is something that’s been around for quite a period,” she said. “My step-granddad was a caretaker in a large urban cemetery for a long time. And when we were little, we would go out for rides in the country and through the cemeteries, and talk about the people (buried there).”

She points out in her book that death is a part of life, and that each culture has chosen a unique method of disposing of human remains.

How did she get interested in Fairmont’s City Cemetery?

“I saw a news story about a Girl Scout troop cleaning up the park, so I came down from Morgantown to see if I could find it. It took me three trips, but I did find it,” she said.

She said the first stones she looked at in the cemetery were for Irish immigrants.

“I belong to a group that studies Irish-American culture and proposed a paper. I did research for the Murphys, the Carneys, and the Monohans,” she said.

“I went over to Northern Island to present the paper, and when I came back, WVU had a service-learning situation. There were only four schools in the country that received a grant to incorporate service learning into their curriculum.”

So Wagaman wrote a grant to the service-learning office, and they funded it.

“They funded it for three years,” she said. “We had students from WVU come down and work and students from Fairmont State did, also. And Pruntytown crews come out the last couple of years.”

Wagaman said the Fairmont City Cemetery was in use from about 1816 through the 1930s.

“The latter part of its use was as a pauper’s graveyard. There are some miners from Everettsville mine disasters in the early 1930s that are buried there, also,” she said.

Wagaman mentioned one gravestone in particular that interested her.

“We have Vedkiah Kidwell, who was a two-term congressman for the state of Virginia in 1850s,” she said. “He’s buried there. He was born in Virginia, and when the Civil War broke out, he went for the South. He was also one of the men responsible for the forming of Marion County in 1842.

“But he wasn’t allowed to hold public office when he came back from the war,” she said.

Wagaman said the City Cemetery contains between 200 and 300 graves. “It’s no longer in use,” she pointed out.

Wagaman noted she spent about a year on the book — between the time of the proposal and putting the book in its final form.

She said her study of Fairmont’s cemeteries continues.

“We’re hoping to get as much information about local cemeteries as we can. We would like to be able to have a map to give people wanting to know about certain cemeteries and where they are,” she said.

Wagaman moved to Fairmont three years ago from Morgantown. She is originally from the Harrisburg area of Pennsylvania.

“I came here in 1988 to go to school at WVU. I was in the doctoral program in the English department. Then I started work in extension in 1992,” she said.

She has been employed in Morgantown for the WVU Extension Service for 15 years.

Wagaman is now managing the Woodlawn Cemetery for its board of trustees.

The book is now available at the Marion County Historical Society Museum.

She plans a signing Wednesday at Barnes and Noble at the University Town Center near Morgantown.

[Gena Wagaman, the 'hero' of this article, is a faithful WVCPA contributor and contact person for the Marion Co. area -
she has published a book entitled "Fairmont's Cemeteries", available via the Marion Co. Historical Society
at http://www.marionhistorical.org or directly from the publisher at Arcadia Press http://www.arcadiapublishing.com
Congratulations on your book, Gena!] 

1st week of August 2007 - Charleston Daily Mail - Life Section:

A couple of super sleuths
By Evadna Bartlett, Daily Mail Staff, Charleston Daily Mail

It was a cousin's passion that caused Alice Click to spend her retirement years as a cemetery sleuth.

Click's cousin, a West Virginia native, and her cousin's husband returned each year from Indiana to restore area cemeteries. Click, then secretary to the Mason County schools superintendent, and her husband worked with them.

"We lifted stones. We cut briars that were over our heads," she said. "We cleaned stones as best we could."

Hats, coats and gloves complicated the labor. The Indiana couple came only in cold weather to avoid snakes.

The experience fueled a zeal for discovering and recording forgotten cemeteries, repositories of family histories.

The Clicks don't let snakes keep them from warm-weather hunts for hidden and out-of-the-way cemeteries and old churches.

"We're a little braver," she said. "But we always wear boots and carry a stick."

Now both retired, Karl Click, 64, and Alice, 62, rack up the miles in their pickup following clues gleaned from courthouse and library records, obituaries, other documents and reports.

"It sounds a little odd, but I have a collection of hundreds of death certificates," she said. "We use to have to send $5 to Charleston for each one. Now we can go on the Internet."

The state Department of Culture and History is putting birth, marriage and death certificates, which include burial information, online at www.wvculture.org/vrr

Once on the road, her husband has a knack for pursing leads, Click said.

"He'll knock on doors and ask where a cemetery is. People are real enthused. They'll say` There's a real, real old cemetery on the hill,' and then give us directions."

She's the photographer, using both a Sony digital and, when its batteries fade as hours go by, a Pentax single lens reflex.

The days can be long. A recent 130-mile cemetery-discovery trek from their home in eastern Mason County to Ripley, Fairplain, Jim Ridge and back never took them on a major highway but was successful.

"We found 11 that day," Click said.

Their searches have taken them to sites in Mason, Jackson, Putnam and even Wood counties.

"We finally had to decide to narrow it," she said. Not surprisingly, they focus on the areas of their forbearers. "Mostly we are interested in Mason and Jackson counties."

Her family has been in the area almost since the American Revolution, while her husband's were latecomers, arriving about 1850.

She creates scrapbooks of their discoveries and shares photos on compact discs with Donna and Joel Duprey, co-founders of the West Virginia Cemetery Preservation Association Inc. Currently living in Colorado but with plans to retire to their southern Mason County property, the couple maintains a constantly expanding catalog of state cemeteries.

A gold mine for genealogy researchers, it grew out of the Dupreys' own search for their ancestors in Mason, Putnam and Jackson counties.

The Web site, www.wvcpaweb.org, details more than 2,600 West Virginia cemeteries with map coordinates and has more than 9,000 tombstone photos, the majority of the latter in Mason, Putnam, Jackson and Kanawha counties.

The Clicks hooked up with the association a couple of years ago.

They share a dedication to genealogy and preservation of near-forgotten state churches and cemeteries.

There's a downside. Not everyone has the same respect for historic sites.

The Clicks have found tombstones flattened by pasturing cattle. "That clearly disturbs me. The people who inherited that farm are not respectful of their ancestors," she said.

Abandoned churches seem to attract roving four-wheelers, who sometimes build fires in the buildings.

"I was absolutely devastated that churches we took pictures of eight years ago are totally destroyed by vandalism," Click said.

But she's not likely to give up.

"I guess as long as we can take hikes, we'll be doing this."

Contact Evadna Bartlett at evadna@dailymail.com

[published in the Charleston Daily Mail, Charleston, August 1, 2007 - www.dailymail.com]

Our thanks to Evadna Bartlett for sharing her column with us, and to Alice and Karl Click for mentioning
WVCPA in their interview - they're doing great work in cataloging updates of cemeteries and churches
in the Mason and Jackson county areas, and do great background research as well. 

4 May 2007 - Charleston Daily Mail - News section:

U.S. 35 project unearths Union Civil War soldier
By Jake Stump, Daily Mail Staff, Charleston Daily Mail

If not for the U.S. 35 project in Putnam County, Joyce Saunders might never have found the burial grounds of several ancestors — including a Union Civil War soldier.

Last summer, West Virginia Division of Highways workers uncovered an unusual obstacle while surveying land that will eventually carry motorists through Winfield on the new U.S. 35.

They came upon an abandoned family cemetery overgrown with weeds and brush that apparently no one but local hunters, loggers and ATV riders knew about. It contained 42 graves, most of which were unmarked.

But one marked grave belonged to Pvt. Roland Gillispie, who served in Company F of the 7th WV Cavalry, a regiment that was organized in the Kanawha Valley in 1861.

State officials then tracked down a descendant, Saunders, 71, of South Point, Ohio.

Saunders did not oppose state crews reburying the bodies at another location to make way for the new road.

But Saunders, a genealogy enthusiast, was ecstatic to learn about the whereabouts of the graves of several ancestors including Gillispie.

“If you would have given me $1 million, I wouldn’t have been as excited,” said Saunders, the soldier’s great-granddaughter.

She already had spent several years tracing the history of her family. She had known nothing about Pvt. Gillispie until requesting his military and medical records from various historical and government agencies.

Receiving the phone call last August about the discovery of the cemetery was just the latest chapter in her search.

Saunders immediately called nine of her cousins, also descendants of Gillispie, and they went out to the abandoned Putnam County cemetery for the first time. She brought with her a plastic flower bouquet and a small American flag.

“I can tell you, I cried,” she said. “These people become real to you.”

Pvt. Gillispie will be reburied Civil War-style — with military honors — May 12 in Spring Hill Cemetery in Huntington. The public is invited to view the procession, which begins at 10 a.m. in front of the Ferrell-Chambers Funeral Home.

A horse-drawn hearse, circa 1900, will carry Gillispie to his new resting place. An honor guard, carrying a 34-star Union flag, and Civil War military re-enactors led by a fife and drum unit will accompany the hearse.

At the cemetery, a pine box casket with rope handles will be draped with the 34-star flag before it is folded and presented to Saunders.

The Sons of Union Veterans, Cadot-Blessing Camp 126 of Gallipolis, Ohio, is organizing the ceremony. James Oiler, of Camp 126, said reburials aren’t very common, but when they do occur they are modeled after burials described in the 1890 Ritual & Ceremonies Manual of the Sons of Union Veterans.

The ceremony also will include the firing of muskets.

At the family cemetery in Putnam County, crews let descendants on site as they exhumed the bodies for reburial.

“Sometimes I have mixed emotions about disturbing the remains,” Saunders said. “But I’m happy now that we know where to go.”

A backhoe dug into the ground before workers used shovels to unearth the remains. Workers uncovered mostly bones because the family back then was poor and the deceased were buried in wooden coffins, if anything, Saunders said.

“I remember seeing something kind of round, and they had unearthed his skull,” Saunders said. “It was touching.”

She noticed Gillispie’s skull was relatively small compared to that of an average man. She knew it was his based on prior research into his medical record.

“He had the head of maybe a 12- or 14-year-old boy,” Saunders said. “He was only 5’5”, had a fair complexion, blue eyes and light hair.”

According to military documents, Gillispie was 25 years old and weighed 135 pounds when he enlisted at Red House in 1861.

Saunders also discovered he was wounded in a skirmish and spent the rest of his life disabled.

On June 21, 1864, a small cannon shot through the muscles of Gillispie’s left leg during a fight near Salem, Va. Some historians refer to it as the Battle of Hanging Rock.

A day before, Gillispie had suffered an uncomfortable accident when his horse threw him onto its saddle horn and injured his groin, according to records.

The soldier spent much of his life as a poor, illiterate farmer in Putnam County.

“He couldn’t read or write his name,” Saunders said. “There’s always an X on the signature line of his documents.”

There are no known photos existing of Gillispie. But over time, Saunders has developed her own image of him.

“After learning so much about him, I’ve put a face and personality to him,” she said. “I had an uncle who would’ve been his grandson, who was a farmer living in Winfield. He could not read or write. Next to my father, he was my favorite.”

Uncle Jack, as Saunders had called him, also had blue eyes, a light complexion, and was a man of smaller physical stature.

“He couldn’t read or write, but he worked hard in his bib overalls,” Saunders said. “You couldn’t leave his house without him telling you to try his turnips or tomatoes.”

Saunders said her generation, and the one before her, never knew much about Gillispie.

The soldier had two brothers who also served in the 7th WV Cavalry. He also had two daughters and three sons, and was married three times.

He died Oct. 26, 1911, at age 75. Medical records show he died of “paralysis of the bowels.”

“I knew a lady who said she was his neighbor,” Saunders said. “She said when he died you could hear him screaming, he was in so much pain.”

The state is footing the bill for the reburials. The cost was not immediately available.

Saunders said state officials, such as Ivan Kapp of the Department of Transportation, have treated the process with respect.

“The only bad part is having the remains disturbed,” she said. “But now I can rest knowing where Roland (Gillispie) is.”

[found posted on Charleston Daily Mail online, May 6, 2007 - visit the WVCPA web page for Gillispie Cemetery
to learn more about the family that was buried there and the cemetery that is no more] 

4 May 2006 - Jackson Star News - Letters to the Editor:

Dear editor,

In a pretty little valley on the left fork of Cow Run, there is a quiet place on a sunny hill known as DAVID SAYRE CEMETERY. David and his four wives sleep there. Twenty-six markers show other SAYRES, some HERDMANS and one infant COSSIN. Born in 1810, David was the son of Daniel and grandson of David Sayre, early settlers in Jackson County. He was a prosperous farmer and minister with extensive land holdings. He could ride from Evans flats all the way to Leon on his own property. He gave land for OTTERBEIN Cemetery and for the large WALNUT GROVE SCHOOL near Angerona. He also gave the right of way for the B&O Railroad. It is said he was a kind and generous man who never refused to give a man a job even if it was pounding and straightening bent nails! David Sayre's descendents number in the hundreds. Many are living on land once owned by him.

This lonely, neglected cemetery is not hard to find . Go approx. 3 miles from the intersection at Evans on Rt. 87 west to Beech Grove Rd., turn and go 2 miles and look to your right and you will see the markers on the hillside.

Desperately needed are a fence, a gate, a culvert, some gravel and someone to mow. Contributions may be made for the David Sayre Cemetery and mailed to Brian Thomas, 114 Maple St., Ripley, WV 25271 or Herbert Sayre, 106 Riverview Dr., St. Albans, WV 25177

Audrey Sayre Hartley

[found posted on Ancestry.com message board for Jackson County - our praise to Audrey Sayre for writing 
to the editor of the Jackson Star and bringing the condition of the family cemetery to the attention of the 
community - so many of whom are related to the same David Sayre - WVCPA will be doing what it can to 
help contribute to the care of this historic cemetery] 

15 March 2006 - Dunn Cemetery Association Announcement :

Memorial Service
By Bert Hudson, PhD, Dunn Cemetery Association

. . . Benjamin Franklin once said the following about how we care for our cemeteries: "Show me your cemeteries and I will show you what kind of people you are." Well, that may or may not be exactly true, but it is a fact that we have neglected Dunn Cemetery. Dunn Cemetery Association's (DCA) effort to collect the names of the persons buried there now contains approximately 400 names and the entire list has been made public thru the WV Cemetery Preservation Association's web site. Creation of the list of Dunn Burial was an important step towards reversing the neglect of Dunn Cemetery, for this project has shown the world that Dunn is one of WV's major, historic parts of WV's cultural heritage. Now, I'd like to see DCA take another step to publicize our effort to preserve the cemetery and show the world that we care about the burial place of our loved ones.

Therefore, I propose that we hold a brief memorial service at Dunn Cemetery on Sunday afternoon, May 28 of this year (WVCPA note: tentative time for the service is 2:30 pm, per the DCA online newsletter). The proposed service would consist of DCA members, other descendants and relatives of those buried in Dunn Cemetery, and other interested parties gathering at the cemetery for a brief Memorial Service in which a local minister would give a short talk and lead the group in a prayer. Then, I might give a short talk about Dunn Cemetery. After that we could have a short "Get- Acquainted" session after which those who were able and willing could visit the cemetery and take some pictures while there.

This is vitally important, for Dunn Cemetery will surely be forgotten and destroyed if we do not make more of an effort to show the public that we are serious about preserving this historic site. An annual memorial service at Dunn Would be a great way to reach that goal. So, please tell your relatives, friends and neighbors about this proposed Memorial Service. Please let me know if you would attend such a gathering, how many there might be in your party, and whether you know of a minister or church group that would help with the service. 


[in personal email to WVCPA from Dr. Hudson, March 15, 2006]

WVCPA has been working for some time with Dunn Cemetery Association's efforts to protect and restore this large, historic cemetery above the banks of the Kanawha River near Cannelton. We encourage you to visit both our page for Dunn Cemetery (the cemetery's in Kanawha Co.) and visit the DCA pages to follow the progress in this effort.  If you have the opportunity to attend the first annual memorial service at the cemetery, you may contact Dr. Hudson c/o DCA P.O. Box 318, Cannelton, WV, 25036 - Email:  thfrbp at cox.net

An update on a historic cemetery in Fayette County that many of you may have heard about in recent years:

7 July 2005 - The Charleston Daily Mail:

Developer agreed to protect Civil War site, historian says
By The Associated Press

A developer building a Wal-Mart in Fayette County has agreed to restore to its original condition a cemetery where Civil War soldiers are buried, a historian says.

Paramount Development Corp. also agreed to give additional acres to protect the site and to put up shrubbery so that there will be no view from the cemetery of the Wal-Mart, Keith Stewart, the director of the West Virginia Coalition on Historic Preservation, said Wednesday.

Stewart visited Fayetteville to see for himself what was happening to grave markers set aside for soldiers who died in the 1862 Battle of Fayetteville.

"The developers were very cordial, and they agreed to state in letters exactly what they promised they are going to do. They are putting up a substantial dirt buffer today," Stewart said.

Paramount Development, a South Carolina company, is building a shopping center on 60 acres in Fayetteville on property that will be accessed from U.S. 19. The property was originally a farm.

One large marker on the property was built to honor a 19-year-old soldier, William Morgan. Volunteers with the United Daughters of the Confederacy researched the names of other people who died in the battle and set markers for their graves.

Some historians also believe men were buried at various places in the field in unmarked graves. Those bodies have not been found, and construction has now taken up most of the field.

The site is included in a brochure called "Civil War Heritage," published by the state Division of Tourism.

When the development was proposed, some people opposed it, hoping instead to develop heritage tourism.

"We are pleased that this has worked out for all parties involved," Stewart said.

[published in the Charleston Daily Mail, Charleston, WV July 7, 2005 - www.dailymail.com]

15 February 2005 - The Charleston Daily Mail:

Retiree Plumbing Depths Of Her Family Roots
By Evadna Bartlett, Staff Columnist

It was curiosity that got Elouise Harrison started on tracing her family history. Two decades later it's given the Eleanor resident a retirement-age goal.

"Who would have thought a few years ago that I'd be doing this?" Harrison asked.

Certainly she never anticipated that now, at 65 she would be starting a book tracing her family from the Rev. Thomas Harrison in the 1600s to the lives of twins Reuben and Joseph Harrison, born in 1768. She, like her late husband, traces her lineage to a son of Reuben.

A family reunion almost two decades ago ignited her interest.

Harrison already has funds pledged for the first printing of the book, one that will place the ancestors in their historic periods as identified by then-current events and presidents.

She has checked and will double-check every date and fact in area courthouses, primarily in Putnam, Kanawha and Jackson counties.

The latter is where she first encountered problems reading early-day handwriting. Then circuit Judge Oliver Kessel, now deceased, observed her perplexity.

The father of former first lady Dee Caperton, Kessel helped Harrison decipher letters as then written.

"I have tried my best to be as helpful as he was when young researchers ask me for help," Harrison said. "I am pleased to see many more young people are wanting to know all they can about their ancestors. It is more than just names and dates... everyone needs to know their family's medical history and this is a good way to find out."

Today Harrison has almost 26,000 names in her Family Tree Maker software.

She started with Version 5, and has since upgraded several times.

But in the beginning she worked with pen and paper.

"I'd write on the back of an envelope or a napkin if I was in a restaurant and heard something," Harrison recalled.

The research has caught the eye of other Harrisons, bringing e-mails from one who works for NASA and other who is a mountain climber in Washington. Still another is Kanawha County Sen. Steve Harrison.

But the mother of four is more interested in catching the interest of her six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

"Do you know you are related to President Lincoln?" she asks.

Through her research, Harrison has connected with Joel and Donna Duprey, founders of the West Virginia Cemetery Preservation Association. The 2-year-old organization grew out of the Colorado couple's search for family roots in Mason, Jackson and Putnam county cemeteries.

Historical records are not all archived in courthouses, libraries or even Bibles, they point out.

The organization, which maintains a Web site at www.wvcpaweb.org, plans to underwrite Harrison's book, she said.

While it's an easy trip to local courthouses and cemeteries for Harrison, that's not always true for other genealogy buffs.

Researchers with West Virginia roots may try the state archives, and consider joining the sixth annual all-night "Hoot Owl Research " from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. April 1-2. Registration is required by March 17 for the 50 participants who get a tour, help from experts and free parking. For information go to www.wvculture.org and click on "Archives and History," "Genealogical Corner" and then Mining Your History Foundation, the co-sponsor. Or contact Patricia Pleska at 345-3808.

Contact writer Evadna Bartlett at evadna @ dailymail.com.

[published in the Charleston Daily Mail, Charleston, WV February 15, 2005 - www.dailymail.com]

Elouise Harrison is one of WVCPA's first, and most active research volunteers. Her advice and knowledge of the backroads of Putnam, Jackson, and Mason counties has helped us tremendously in our mission - and her companionship on our many adventures together, searching out our common family cemeteries, has been a great blessing to both Joel and Donna. Thank you, Elouise, for bringing WVCPA to the attention of the columnist, and the readers of The Charleston Daily Mail! 

26 November 2004 - The State Journal:

Nature Surges to Take Over Some Cemeteries
By Pam Kasey, Staff Reporter

Whether we consider them sacred resting places or valuable genealogical resources, many of our state's cemeteries are returning to the wild.  The West Virginia Cemetery Preservation Association works with local groups to reverse the trend.

As many as 10,000 cemeteries may exist in West Virginia, according to Donna Duprey of the WVCPA.  But throughout the decades, families migrated westward, and country folk moved to cities, leaving no one to tend the old resting places.

Duprey and her husband, Joel, founded the WVCPA after their research into his West Virginia roots brought them from their home in Colorado to Mason County.  They found there that some ancestors had fared better than others.

It was hard enough just finding the cemeteries, Duprey said.

"Not being locals, we had to ask a lot of people."

Some cemeteries they eventually found were in excellent condition.  But Elmwood Cemetery, where Joel's ancestors were buried, had been razed by a mining company that bought the land in the 1960s.

That got the Dupreys fired up.

They set up a Web site to encourage preservation and make information easily available to researchers.  The site now centralizes links to more than 6,000 West Virginia cemeteries listed county by county: some simply by name, others with detailed directions, photos, plot maps and complete alphabetical lists of transcriptions compiled by local groups.

WVCPA has been involved in two cemetery restorations in Mason County: the Brown-Hartford Cemetery last fall and the Welsh Cemetery this spring.

"Both of them were so overgrown that you had to practically trip over a tombstone to know it was there," Duprey said.

Forest had claimed Welsh Cemetery, and Brown Cemetery was wild with greenbrier.  Fences around private family plots only encouraged the blackberries.

The local development authority enlisted AmeriCorps volunteers to help with the heavy chainsawing, lifting and hauling.  And that, Duprey said, is the main task for anyone who wants to restore a cemetery: beating back nature.

"When the ground is uneven, like on a hillside, and shrubs and bushes have overgrown, you really have to keep at it," she said.  "It's not an overnight or even a one-season process.  It takes work."

To clean the stones, she said, never use anything other than plain water and a very soft brush.

As for any broken or fallen stones, Duprey said, a bad restoration job is worse than none at all.  She recommends for the most part leaving them in place: "Sometimes you're better off trying to read as much as you can and placing it on another stone directly in front of it."

Ongoing maintenance is not necessarily expensive, she said.

For a family plot, relatives can pass the hat at reunions to pay for mowing and fence repairs.  Small church and community cemeteries might raise a little more money to establish a perpetual fund, she said, and use the interest for maintenance.

A group in town might adopt a larger cemetery as a historical project, soliciting donations from local businesses for upkeep.  Florists, funeral homes and even grocery stores have been known to help out.

Counties and other localities might do well to consider their cemeteries cultural resources along the lines of tourist attractions, if the Dupreys' experience is any indication.  People contact them regularly to ask for directions and motel and restaurant recommendations.

Duprey encourages people to take interest in neglected cemeteries in their neighborhoods.

"Don't just assume someone else will take care of it," she said.  "Find out about it, get out there and adopt it."

[reprinted with permission from the author - published in the State Journal week of Nov. 26, 2004, page 3
The State Journal is published weekly by West Virginia Media Management, LLC, Charleston, WV - www.statejournal.com]

Thank you, Pam, for bringing WVCPA to the attention of your Editor, and the readers of The State Journal! 
And to our readers, if you have access to The State Journal through your local library (or perhaps it is archived at the WV Cultural History Library? - does anyone know?), the issue of Nov. 26 had many fine articles pertaining to genealogical and historical research in WV that we found very interesting and educational and would recommend reading if you have the chance.

14 May 2004 - The Point Pleasant Register:

Preservation group traces its roots to Mason County
By Kandy Boice

POINT PLEASANT — What began as a hobby for a couple from Arvada, Colo., has turned into a mountainous project that just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Joel and Donna Duprey decided soon before they married three years ago that they would give each other a gift — researching each other’s family tree. That project turned into what is known today as the Cemetery Preservation Association.

The Dupreys decided to travel to Mason County on vacation to find the graves of Joel’s family, who lived in the Union district near Leon in the 1800s. When they arrived, they found an unpleasant surprise.

As they searched for ancestors, they found that many of the graves were in obscure cemeteries, often overgrown, unmarked and difficult to find.

“Some of the gravestones were so covered by vines and weeds, you could be standing right next to it and not know it was there,” Donna said.

Donna said that in researching their ancestors, she and her husband developed a pseudo-relationship with them.
“It’s as though we got to know them. Through reading memoirs and searching their records, we felt as though they were truly family. We would walk through these cemeteries and realize that the people buried there were someone’s family. If not ours, someone else’s,” Donna said.

Donna said that when families headed west in covered wagons, grandparents were sometimes left behind.
“When grandma or grandpa died, there was no one to take care of the grave, so it became neglected. With families living in faraway places today, there is still no one able or willing to care for the graves. If we don’t log the information, it could be lost forever,” Donna said.

That realization led to the Cemetery Preservation Association’s humble beginnings.

Twenty-five years ago, Violette Machir and Juanita Burdette researched all the cemeteries in Mason County that they could find. They compiled their research into books that are still in existence today. Those books were the tools that the Dupreys began with, but the information was outdated and incomplete.

“Those books were great, but they are 25 years-old. They need to be expanded,” Donna said.

Celesty Fielder, administrative assistant to the Mason County Development Authority, has been working with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps to do just that.
Fielder and the NCCC have been collecting information and keying it into a computer database, so that people from all over the world will be able to retrieve it from a Point Pleasant Web site, which will be tied into the Dupreys’ Web site when it is done.

The Dupreys continue to visit West Virginia twice a year to search for ancestors and clean the newly-found graves, finding volunteers along the way to help them compile data for more cemeteries.

Their search for ancestors has led them into Putnam and Jackson counties, in addition to Mason County, where they are finding new friends to help them with their quest there.

“We began this journey selfishly, searching only for our ancestors, but as we go along, we find others that are interested in helping us. Now our vision is to see someone else become interested in the project and blossom,” Donna said.
Donna said that she and her husband work on the computer three to four hours every night, expanding the information on their Web site.

“We have about 12,000 to 15,000 photos to scan, edit, document and post — and that number continues to grow as people find out about us and submit more information,” Donna said.

Donna worries that the work will die with them, though.

“Someone has to keep this current over time, and that, too, is part of our vision,” Donna said.

[reprinted from the Point Pleasant Register Website (on May 14, 2004) at http://www.mydailyregister.com ]

26 March 2004 - The Point Pleasant Register:

AmeriCorps to assist in cemetery initiative
By Kevin Kelly

POINT PLEASANT — AmeriCorps workers returning to Mason County in mid-April will be lending a hand to a research project on the county’s cemeteries.

Lowell Wilks, project coordinator with the Great Kanawha Resource Conservation and Development Area, told the Mason County Commission Thursday that a crew of workers, who are college students or graduates doing volunteer service, will be back and working on three projects.

The first will be in collecting data on cemeteries, a project being coordinated through the West Virginia Cemetery Preservation Association.

Last fall, AmeriCorps workers came to Hartford to clean up the historic Brown Cemetery, which had been uncared for about 30 years.

This spring’s work will be done by AmeriCorps first because the preservation society’s staffers will be in the county in April, Wilks said.

Commission President Phyllis Arthur asked Wilks if he had been informed about an Odd Fellows cemetery on a hill behind New Haven that is inaccessible.

Wilks said he’s been referring requests to Celesty Fielder at the MCDA and Mason County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Hilda Austin.

Interest in the cemetery project has been building and Wilks said he’s asked about its progress whenever he is in Mason County.

“It’s really coming along,” he said. “Scott Williamson, who works with the RC&D, told me there’s a cemetery behind the 4-H camp I’d like to check out when we’re working there.”

The AmeriCorps workers are expected to arrive April 15 and stay about six weeks. During that time, they will work on improving the ballfields at West Columbia, and then focus on the 4-H camp at Southside...

[reprinted from the Point Pleasant Register Website (on Mar 26, 2004) at http://www.mydailyregister.com ]

24 February 2004 - The Point Pleasant Register:

Cemetery group to catalog cemeteries in Mason County
By Kandy Boyce
POINT PLEASANT — Overgrown, forgotten cemeteries in Mason County may be a thing of the past if an ad hoc group has its way.

The group, which is interested in cleaning, preserving, and cataloging Mason County cemeteries, met Thursday at the Chamber of Commerce for a brainstorming session.

They discussed what had already been done and what needed to be done.

Celesty Fielder, Mason County Development Authority administrative assistant, has had an interest in cemeteries for quite a few years and has been trying to pinpoint obscure, as well as well-known cemeteries in the area and map them.

Attending the meeting was Juanita Burdette, who had a cemetery guide printed more than 30 years ago, which recorded all the information about Mason County cemeteries that she had acquired during her lifetime. Burdette said that subsequent printings of her books had deleted some information that was in her original books.

The last books that were printed in 1989, did not print well when they were reproduced, obliterating whole sections of the books.

“We need to rewrite this information and correct it,” Burdett said.

Hilda Austin, director of the chamber of commerce and temporary secretary for the meeting agreed.

“If we don’t get this information written down, when the people who have that knowledge in their heads die, it will be lost forever,” Austin said.

Several that attended the meeting were concerned because there is no centralized location to go to find cemetery records in Mason County.

“People stop by the local barber shop and ask where to go to find this information and there is no where to direct them. Mason County doesn’t even have their own records. The records that we have of Mason County are located in Meigs and Gallia counties in Ohio,” Austin said.

Others voiced concerns that all the cemeteries in the county had not even been logged yet. Fielder said that there are small family cemeteries or old cemeteries that have been abandoned with no one to look after them.

“I have gone to cemeteries that people have told me about and have not been able to find them because they are so overgrown,” Fielder said. “With the resurgence of interest in genealogy, we need a place where people can come and sit down and find a record of these graves, then be able to look at a map and pinpoint exactly how to get to it.”

Fielder’s vision is to have a central location where people can come and sit down to research information about their ancestors.

Lowell Wilks, project coordinator for the Great Kanawha Resource Conservation and Development said that his office has committed topical maps for Mason County to help develop the reference materials for the county. The maps, similar to those used by the 911 center, could be used to computerize the data and make a printout easily accessible.

Wilks also told the group that the 2004 spring agenda of the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps’ allocates time for them to enter some of the records that are currently available on the computer. They also plan to finish the work that was already started, reclaiming the Brown Cemetery.

“Our goal this year is to reclaim at least two cemeteries in the county and find a civic group that will maintain them after the cleanup is done,” Wilks said.

The group is seeking volunteers. Anyone who would like to help in any capacity should contact Celesty Fielder at 675-1497, Hilda Austin at 675-1050, or Lowell Wilks at 776-5256, extension 211.

“We also need people to contact us with any information that they have about cemeteries in Mason County,” Fielder said. “There are so many historically significant people buried here. We don’t want to miss anyone.”

[reprinted from the Point Pleasant Register Website (on Feb 24, 2004) at http://www.mydailyregister.com ]

WVCPA has been working alongside this group in their efforts over the past year, and will continue to do so wholeheartedly.  Will you? We encourage you to contact any of the ladies mentioned above for specific ways you can help.

January 2004:

State Historic Preservation Office publishes 2004 13-month calendar
The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History has published “West Virginia’s Cemeteries 2004,” a calendar highlighting historic burial sites across the state. The 13-month full-color calendar is free while supplies last.

Each month, the calendar highlights a West Virginia cemetery, including the Hatfield Cemetery in Sarah Ann, the Grafton National Cemetery, Woodlawn Cemetery in Fairmont, Indian Mound Cemetery near Romney and Riverview Cemetery in Parkersburg. The calendar also includes information about the National Register of Historic Places as it pertains to cemeteries, and articles about tombstone iconography and cemetery preservation.

To request a copy of the calendar, write to 2004 Calendar, State Historic Preservation Office, WVDCH, The Cultural Center, 1900 Kanawha Blvd., East, Charleston, WV 25305-0300; call (304) 558-0240, ext. 711; or e-mail shpo@wvculture.org.
“West Virginia’s Cemeteries 2004” was funded in part by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, and by Cornerstone Family Services Inc. 

[reprinted from the WV State Historic Preservation Office Website at http://www.wvculture.org/shpo/presnews.html ]

WVCPA has received a copy for our office, and it's a very nice calendar, with beautiful photography and great information about the preservation and protection of cemeteries in West Virginia.  SHPO has done a fantastic job on this calendar, a job to be most proud of!

To view current "In the News" entries, Click Here 

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