Someone once said of cemeteries, "That's a place where folks are dying to get in." Unfortunately, although Marietta found it had to supply special places for just this purpose, they weren't always choice areas.
The first graves in the city were on a ridge south of the present Oak Grove Cemetery, a section laid off by the Ohio Company when the settlement was first established. Sadly enough, the first person to die in Marietta was Nabby Cushing, the daughter of Nathaniel Cushing who died Aug. 25,1788. From what I can gather, her gravesite was in the area of present day Washington Street where Beman Gates later built a house. (Gates was active in this area during the 1860s.) The second person in the settlement to die was Judge Varnum, who was also buried in this area.
Others were buried in this location prior to the Indian War in 1791, but during those years it was thought best not to travel outside guarded areas, and burials were made on the sand hill just above Wooster Street on line with Third Street. This was near the present location of Christ United Methodist Church.
Capt. Joseph Rogers, who was killed March 13, 1791, was buried in the area now represented by Third Street. A daughter of Gov. Arthur St. Clair, a son of Maj. Putnam, James Wells' wife and daughter, William Moulton and many others were also buried there. However, in 1839, the remains of most were exhumed and reburied in Mound Cemetery, which was opened as a cemetery in 1800. In 1867 the remains of 28 persons were moved to Oak Grove Cemetery, and a granite monument was erected to mark their last resting place. (Evidently, it was impossible to tell which bones belonged to whom - they made one large grave.) As late as 1849, though, there were still some graves remaining back of Third Street.
Not to be outdone, in 1792 the settlers planted Gen. Benjamin Tupper under an apple tree opposite the Quadranaou ( This is the four-sided mound in Camp Tupper) between Third and Fourth streets. At the same place a child of Ichabod Nye, and afterward Maj. Anselm Tupper, were buried there. The remains of these persons were later moved to Mound Cemetery.
Mound Cemetery is a fitting memorial to those who first settled here. The mound itself is a monument to the Hopewell Mound Builders who settled here around 900 AD. The mound undoubtedly contains two burial chambers - one on a level with the ground and a second halfway up. According to reports made by Dr. Manasseh Cutler, an opening was made at the top of the mound where the bones of an adult were found in a horizontal position, covered with a large, flat stone. Beneath the skeleton were found three stones, which were placed vertically at small and different distances. However, no more bones were uncovered.
To not deface and destroy the mound, no further investigation was made, and the opening was closed. The skeleton found was probably 15 feet from the top, and in every one of the large mounds in the area which have been excavated and found to have a chamber near the top, there has another at the base.
Mound Cemetery was originally called Marie Antoinette Square. This was undoubtedly changed following Marie's fall from fame.
She was blamed for making the statement "Let them eat cake," referring to the starving French people. That statement was actually made by another woman in the court. From what I have read about Marie, she was a gentle, caring person, who adored her children and loved her husband.
Many of the graves surrounding the mound are mostly those of the inhabitants of Marietta who lived here during the first half of the 18th century, but in recent years all remaining grave sites have been sold, so many graves contain those individuals who are more recent citizens of Marietta.
Col. Robert Taylor, who died Sept. 30, 1801, was the first person buried in Mound Cemetery, and Rev. Daniel Story, the first minister in the Northwest Territory and buried in 1804 was the second. (Rev. Story was the first minister of the Congregational Church, built in 1809 on Front Street. This church burned and a second built in that location in 1905.) In February 1805, Col. Ebenezer Sproat, the first sheriff of Washington County was buried here; in 1807 it was Joseph Lincoln, aged 47; and in 1811 it was Ezra Putnam, the oldest of the pioneers. In 1812 Gen. Joseph Buell was interred, Rufus Putnam in 1824, Commodore Abraham Whipple in 1824, and Return Jonathan Meigs in 1825. Others buried here include Ichabod Nye, Capt. Josiah Monroe, Dr. John Cotton, Dr. S.H. Hildreth, David Everett, Naham Ward, three generations of Woodbridges, Arius and Anselm Tupper, Caleb Emerson, and Col. John Mills. More Revolutionary War soldiers are buried here than any other cemetery in the United States.
The cemetery in Harmar is older than Mound Cemetery, and was laid out by the Ohio Company in 1796. The journal of the Ohio Company states that a resolution was passed stating "that there be also laid out three acres on the west side of the Muskingum River." It is not known who received the honor of being first to enter these sacred acres, but some say it was a soldier from Fort Harmar.
Oak Grove was originally 33 acres of land bought by the city from Judge Arius Nye in 1861. The site was selected by Dr. J.D. Cotton and C.F. Buell, and the first persons interred here were two small children. The first adult was Timothy Cone, who died April 24, 1864.
Oak Grove has found it necessary to add several back acres to those original sections of land.
The most recent cemetery in the area is East Lawn, which is located on Newport Pike.
Joan Pritchard is a longtime columnist for the Parkersburg News & Sentinel. Contact her at email@example.com.