BELPRE TOWNSHIP -The Newbury Cemetery is the final resting place of some of the earliest settlers in southern Washington County and is still occasionally used for burials today.
More than 300 people are interred in the cemetery, established in 1825 on higher ground than the previous Newbury cemetery, which was located along the Ohio River on farmland that belonged to Truman Guthrie. It takes its name from the settlement established below Belpre.
Located along Newbury Road, just south of Little Hocking, the cemetery has been under the care of the Belpre Township trustees for about five years.
Marietta resident Joan Knowles' husband, William, was laid to rest in the cemetery in early 2010, joining six generations of his ancestors.
"He loved history," said Joan Knowles, 72. "He taught history (at Marietta High School). And he was involved in the genealogy society and was on the state board."
Among William Knowles' ancestors buried at Newbury are James Knowles, who served in the Revolutionary War, and his son, Reuben, a soldier in the War of 1812. The elder Knowles' military marker is no longer there, and Joan Knowles has contacted the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution about replacing it.
Located on Newbury Road, formerly Belpre Township 124, in the southern-most part of Washington County.
The cemetery was established in 1825, when some bodies were moved from the former Newbury Cemetery along the Ohio River.
A marker from the old cemetery was moved to the current one about 15 years ago due to flooding concerns. It honors several people, including a mother, her two children and a young woman killed in a 1792 Indian attack.
More than 300 people are interred in the Newbury cemetery, and some burials still happen there, although no new plots are being sold.
Source: Times research.
"It's important that we not forget the veterans," said Joan Knowles, whose husband, daughter, son-in-law and multiple brothers also served in the military. "I do think they need honored, and particularly someone who helped win our freedom."
James Knowles is one of three Revolutionary War veterans known to be buried at Newbury, as well as 12 Civil War veterans, including another member of the Knowles family, according to local historian Scott Britton.
The other Revolutionary War soldiers, Eleazar Curtis and John Leaven, were originally buried in the previous cemetery and moved to the new one due to concerns about flooding.
The first Newbury cemetery was established in 1792, following the brutal killings of a settler mother, two of her children and a 14-year-old girl, Persis Dunham, by Indian attackers, according to Laura Curtis Preston's 1909 history of Newbury. An infant the mother was holding survived the attack despite being wounded by a tomahawk, according to Preston's history, which identifies the victims only by the family name of Brown.
The attack prompted settlers to abandon the newly constructed Newbury stockade and withdraw to Belpre until 1794.
In 1871, the gravestones at the original site were removed and a marble marker was placed by the descendants of some of those who had been buried there. That marker was moved to the new cemetery about 15 years ago due to flooding concerns, said Freda McGirr, a member of the now-defunct Little Hocking Historical Society. It stands next to the flag pole in the center of the cemetery and is barely legible today.
Belpre Township worker Aaron Masters said he saw that marker years ago while fishing by the river and didn't realize it was the site of a cemetery.
"We thought maybe somebody'd come down there and dropped it," he said.
In 1905, Caroline Curtis, a descendant of Eleazar Curtis, died and willed $100 to the trustees of the Newbury cemetery. Donations by relatives increased the fund to $200.
Interest earned on the fund was "used to keep the cemetery mowed in the summer, something that is often hard to manage with a county cemetery, where there is no fund and many of them seem sadly neglected," Preston's history says, echoing a problem many townships face with caring for cemeteries today.
Trustee Asa Boring said Belpre Township currently maintains four cemeteries in addition to Newbury.
"Our budget is good enough that we can do that," he said.