Saturday, October 14, 2017

TNT Area Graves

If you're familiar with the Mothman legend of Point Pleasant, WV, then chances are you at least have some knowledge of his connection to the area commonly referred to as the TNT area. The TNT area, which is now mostly a maze of concrete igloos set within the McClintic Wildlife Area, began life in 1942 as the WV Ordnance Works at Pt. Pleasant. Until 1945, this sprawling complex employed thousands of people in the manufacture of TNT.

Construction began in March of 1942, several miles north of the city of Pt. Pleasant. Most of the land used for the plant consisted of land sold to the government by local farmers. By May of that year, that would pose a slight problem...

During the early 1800s, it was common for settlers in the area to bury their dead on their property in small family cemeteries. There were about seven of these small family burial plots that stood in way of various plant construction projects. Local papers ran announcements asking for any relatives of those buried within these small family cemeteries to contact a local office.

This is an on-going research project for me, but I wanted to go ahead and share one of those newspaper announcements that appeared in the Jackson Herald on Friday May 15, 1942. This is a very interesting topic for me because for some reason, it just never occurred to me that cemeteries would have to have been moved/disturbed during construction. It makes perfect sense, though. This type of thing happened ALL the time with new construction, especially for a project as large as the Ordnance Works! It makes me wonder, though. Many of the burials were unmarked. Many of the descendants of those buried had since long moved on and could not be located. Could this disruption of their original burial site upset the souls of Pt. Pleasant's earliest citizens? Could it account for some of the non-related Mothman 'ghost' stories, such as MY EXPERIENCE several years ago? Was Mothman, although he wasn't sighted until over 20 years after the plant closed its doors be somehow connected to those disturbed souls, watching over them? The concept of graveyard guardians, which stems largely from England, is a traditional belief that many of the early settlers may have carried over with them, and weirdly enough, Mothman could have fit the bill. Or was he maybe a thought-form manifestation of the pain, anger, and all the other emotions associated with having one's eternal slumber disrupted? I'm probably REALLY reaching here, but its kind of fun to think about!


*I'd love to hear from anyone who has had a spooky experience out in the TNT area, or anyone who has any knowledge about the re-burial process for the 200 souls who were moved. You can comment down below, or find me over at Theresa's Haunted History's Facebook. Thanks!*

(Jackson Herald, Friday, 15 May 1942)
"An estimated 200 hundred graves, many of them covered with tall grasses, and forgotten, will be moved at government expense to make way for the $55,000,000 TNT plant being constructed north of Point Pleasant. The graves lie in seven old cemeteries scattered over the 8,000 acre tract for the plant which will be known as the West Virginia Ordnance works, situated in the Robinson district. All will be moved to a single new burial ground on Lock Lane road, off West Virginia State Route 62.

The site includes the old BENNETT-KNOB cemetery, which is of historical interest by reason of the interment of Dr. Jesse BENNETT, a pioneer surgeon credited with performing the first cesarean operation in America.

The cemeteries include:

Eva RICE cemetery: A burial ground near the Oldtown-Dixie road. It holds three unmarked graves, and there may be others, as there is no known record of when it was established or when the last interment occurred.

The STEWART cemetery: Established about 1800, it contains approximately 75 graves of which only 17 have headstones. This cemetery is located on Musgrave road.

The SOMERVILLE cemetery: Located on the Oldtown road, on the Effie SOMERVILLE farm. Established in 1874, it holds 15 graves, 11 of them marked. The last interment occurred in 1913.

The VANMETER cemetery: Also situated on the Dixie road. Established in 1850, it is estimated to hold 20 graves, of which only seven have headstones.

The Cherry cemetery: Oldtown-Dixie road on the C. B. Thompson farm. This, apparently a family cemetery, was established in 1873 and contains only two graves, only one of them marked.

The Nanny B. HOGG cemetery: Oldtown-Dixie and Musgrave roads. Established in 1837, it holds approximately 75 graves. Among the headstones, six are very old but in unusually good condition and probably will be moved to the new burial ground.

The HAWKINS cemetery: On Morning Star road, on the E. J. and C. G. Somerville farm. Established about 1878, it contains 12 graves, 8 of which are marked, the last burial occurred in 1901.

Besides these, there are several cemeteries on the TNT plant site, but will not be in the way of buildings and will not be moved. All these will be fenced. The land acquisition section of the War department, which has charge of moving the graves, has requested that descendants or relatives of those buried in the seven cemeteries get in touch with the office."

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