Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Old Barboursville Cemetery

The old Barboursville Cemetery officially dates back to around October 25, 1833, when the first of two tracts of land were given to the town by the Methodist Episcopal Church for use as a school and church.  The second portion was deeded over on July 2, 1838.  Shortly after, the idea for a school and church were scrapped in order to use the land as a cemetery.

The first recorded burial is said to be that of Marie TC Gardner on April 17, 1854.  While this is said to be the first official burial, there is reason to believe that the land had been used as a cemetery as early as 1812, one year before the town of Barboursville was established.  The first grave, believed to be dated about 1812, is said to belong to a member of the Dusenberry family.  Further evidence of the land being used as a cemetery was apparent when the remnants of old, unmarked graves were discovered while digging the newer graves. 

There are also at least 30 slave burial sites in this older area of the cemetery.  The sites were marked with a small foot stone bearing the deceased's initials, but those foot stones have long been removed.
In 1844, the Methodist Church became divided over the issues of slavery, and by the end of the Civil War, the Methodist Episcopal Church was no longer in Barboursville, and most of the original trustees had died out.  As a result, this part of the cemetery became severely neglected.

In 1897, the newer portion of the cemetery began taking burials, and eventually would become the final resting place of many of Barboursville's early prominent families, including the Bumgardners, the Gardners, the Merritt's, the Thornburgs, and many others.  Alvin Davis, a Cabell County representative for the House of Delegates, is also buried here.

By 1950, the entire cemetery was once again in disarray.  The city agreed to take over the deed and take care of it, dubbing it "Old Barboursville Cemetery."  

Huntington Paranormal did a short training investigation at this location in late 2008, and while no evidence was obtained or personal experiences observed, there was one grave in particular that seemed to draw us. 
The grave of Ronald Harshbarger stood in a small fenced off section with several other graves,none of which were family. The grave had sunken in considerably.  After an EVP session at the grave, I went home to do some research on Mr. Harshbarger.  Unfortunately, not much info was available online.  Ronald was born in Barboursville on March 14, 1908, the son of Joseph George and Nellie Harshbarger.  He was married to Mary Gale Housand around 1927 in Kentucky, and together with her, had four children: 1. Mary Frances 2. William Ronald 3. Dennison 4. Jeanine Marie.  Ronald died in Columbus, Ohio on August 25, 1944, and was brought home to Barboursville for burial.  His wife married his brother Elmer, a widower, four years later, and had two more children.

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