INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP - Independence Township's Wade Cemetery was established with the death of one woman in 1821.
"The death and burial of Nancy Rea Sr. at that date was the beginning of the first graveyard within the township at the mouth of Rea's Run," according to Williams History of Washington County.
William Rea, Nancy's husband, donated the property on which his wife was buried. A veteran of the War of 1812, William was also eventually laid to rest in the cemetery in 1848.
Richard McMahan of Independence Township looks over some of the aged gravestones at Wade Cemetery. The graveyard is also known as Rea’s Run Cemetery and Huffman Cemetery. Graves there date back to 1821. (Photo by Sam Shawver)
Originally known as Rea's Run Cemetery, and later Huffman Cemetery, the graveyard now known as Wade Cemetery became the final resting place for some of the area's oldest families.
Descendants of William and Nancy Rea are prominent in the graveyard, but other names on gravestones there include Barkwill, Farnsworth, Goodman, Hendricks, Thomas and Richardson.
The cemetery's latest interment was in 1933, according to the Washington County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society's website.
Until recently Helen McMahan, 95, lived about a quarter-mile from the cemetery which is located near the intersection of Archers Run Road and Ohio 7.
"I don't remember the last person buried there, but I do remember that families would leave flowers on some of the graves on Decoration Day," she said. "When I was younger the post office was located in a store near the cemetery, and I went to the post office practically every day. We always just called it the Rea's Run Cemetery."
McMahan said the Huffman name for the cemetery probably came from a family who once owned the store where the post office was located.
German immigrants who initially settled in the area had originally given the post office the name of Ostend (east end), but in 1864 the postmaster named it the Wade Post Office, in honor of U.S. Sen Benjamin Franklin Wade who served from 1851 to 1871.
The cemetery takes its current name from the senator.
McMahan recalled one year, probably in the 1930s or 40s, the owner of a nearby store was in need of some fill dirt for her property and hired a man to haul some topsoil from the graveyard.
"He had to move some of the gravestones to get to the soil, but someone found out and they made her put the stones back on the graves," she said. "But I've heard people say they didn't get all of the gravestones back on the right graves. We were teenagers then and we all laughed about her having to put the stones back-you know how kids are."
Richard McMahan, Helen's son, said as a youngster he and other boys steered clear of the graveyard.
"It was grown over then, and we were afraid of running into a copperhead," he said. "But I think the township has cleaned it up since then."
Lee Hadley, who operates Hadley Funeral Home in New Matamoras, a few miles north of the cemetery, estimates there may be 100 people interred at the Wade Cemetery, but none of those burials would have been recent.
"I may have had one burial in there over the years, but it would have been some time ago," Hadley said. "I wouldn't even attempt it there now."