Saturday, June 6, 2009

History of Local Cemeteries

Probably from the Washington Observer paper

The History of Our Local Cemeteries
This is the third of a series. “And while they sleep a peaceful sleep, Their memory, we shall always keep”.
Westland Cemetery – Washington County
Westland Cemetery, located in Centerville Borough, on the Ridge Road, had its beginning in 1780, when it was the cemetery for the Friends meeting (Quakers).
More than seven hundred burials were made between 1780 and 1870. The Quakers buried in rows as deaths occurred; no markers were erected as it was their belief that man should leave a memorial to himself, in his good work that he performed in his lifetime. No stone marker needed to be erected that showed where he lived. The identity of these unmarked graves are known only to God, just as they planned.
On May 12, 1902, a group of fourteen, incorporated on a non-profit basis. The land was obtained by the Association from Samuel Taylor and J. Harvey Farquhar. The first officers were: J. Farquhar, (president); William H. Farquhar, (Secretary); and George Hancock (Treasurer).
The present officers are: W. Floyd Gillis, (President); Walter bush, (vice-President); Clayton C. Giffen, (Sec-Treasurer); C. Edwin Binns, (Sexton). Other board members are : Freeman Hess; Lewis Cleaver; Amelia C. Gillis, William H. Fisher and Helen T. Cornell.
At present there are approximately 1,300 burials in Westland Cemetery. Of the Quaker burials, there are records of only 150 names and dates. The records were lost over seventy-five years ago. The average burials are seven a year.
There are three Revolutionary War Veterans, Jacob Hormell (1737-1821) one of the first settlers in the area and who also fought on the Lord Dunmore’s War in 1774. The others were brothers Isaac Morris (1751 – 1838) and Jonathan Morris (17??-1838).
The Honorable Jonathan Knight (1787 – 1858) and his wife Nancy Heston Knight (17?? – 1863) were buried here. He was a self-taught surveyor and became well-known when he surveyed the National Road from Washington County to Jefferson City, Missouri. He was elected Washington County Commissioner in 1816; served in the Senate from 1823 to 1828. Later he served as Congressman from the Twentieth District of Pennsylvania.

This Historical Series has been made available to our readers through the efforts of S. White’s Sons – 68 West Maiden St,, Washington, PA. Plant & Office, Claysville PA

The History of Our Local Cemeteries
Beallsville Cemetery

In the year 1799 a Methodist Society was started in the Beallsville area. One of the earliest know families included in the society was that of Mr. & Mrs. Benjamin Kenney who were friends of John Wesley (Founder of the Methodist Church) and came from England and joined the society in 1802. This society was responsible for the first known public burial plot in the Beallsville area. The burial grounds were maintained by friends and members of the society until the early 1860s.
On June 22, 1862 a plot was deeded for the establishment of a meeting house for the society. The structure was erected and it became a focal point in the community. It was only natural that a grave-yard was located in some proximity to the church (or vice-versa if you will) as that was the custom of the times.
The position of the meeting house is on the right side of the drive-way as you enter the Beallsville Cemetery today. It can be located by the memorial erected to the Kenney’s.
In the early months of 1862, or, perhaps, even in 1861, it was deemed advisable by a group of philanthropic personalities in and around Beallsville to form a corporation and establish a place of burial for the dead of that area. The area that was elected was on a farm now owned by Mr. & Mrs. J. Louis Baker in the East End of Beallsville and included the Methodist Meeting House and burial grounds. At that time the burial grounds were called “Keys Graveyard”.
Thus, charter was presented to the courts and the corporation formed on May 27, 1862 with stock sold at $20.00 per share and operating capital established at $5000.00.
The original incorporators were as follows:
H. Winnett, James M. Miller, James E. Whitsett, John Ewart, James Kenney, Joseph Welch, A. D. Scott, Thomas Odbert, P. C. Rogers, M. H. Matthews, Thomas Hill, Thomas Martindell, I. F. Dawson, Eli G. Greenfield, A. I. Greenfield, L. Llewellen, S. P. Gray, H. B. McLean.
Each purchaser of a whole lot shall become shareholders in the corporation with a basis of one vote per share of stock held. Corporate meetings are held yearly on the first Monday in May at 2:00 p.m. and all shareholders are asked and invited to attend.
The present officers are: President – Dr. H. H. Frey; Vice President – J. B. Lancaster; Secretary – Mrs. Wilma Clark Murphy; Treasurer – Mrs. Wilma Clark Murphy.
The cemetery today consists of 65 acres of ground with approximately 6 unused acres and an average burial rate of 100 per anum. It still serves the community as a final resting place with beautiful grounds and peaceful and resplendent surroundings. The remains of many of those that are responsible for the history of the Beallsville area lie interred therein. The cemetery remains today as it has in the past ready to serve all with the serenity and tranquility of its purpose. This “City of the Dead” deserved the respect and admiration it demands.

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