Look Back: A cemetery fades

The military grave marker of John Hill. It was moved from the old cemetery described by early Wood County historian and genealogist John A. House, in 1999. Other burials moved at that time to Mount Zion Baptist Church Cemetery at Mineral Wells were: Agnes Hill, Jacob Deem, Margaret Hill Deem, and Derastus Hill. (Photo by Bob Enoch)

Continuing with the month of May as Remember a Rural Cemetery Month, today we will look into a cemetery that is no more.


“John Hill Graveyard — On the 29th of June, 1930, I ‘discovered’ in a jungle of pine brush lying west of the Elizabeth Pike and just beyond Pettyville, an old graveyard, probably near the site of what is referred to in old deeds as ‘the old Hill Meetin’ House.’ This burial plat lies back of the middle street of the Pine View Addition on top of the second rise north of the Pike and about two-thirds of the way toward Third Street. It lies on a little ridge, a fork’s point between two miniature runs, and as now fenced is perhaps 100 by 150 feet in dimension.

“The ground is closely overgrown with pine bushes, thick as a chair-post or smaller, three to eight feet in height, and woven together with catbrier in patches, and much of the surface is carpeted with a thick coating of graveyard myrtle, too much shaded to thrive, yet too tenacious of life to give up the annual recurring struggle for existence. There is one cedar tree rising tall and straight to a height of sixty feet or more, and ten or twelve inches in diameter, while its utmost spread of limbs is perhaps eight feet.

“At its base, grown over with the interminable pine thicket, are barely recognizable graves, unmarked, unknown, over which it has kept vigil well along maybe into its second century. Who, with sad hearts, planted this tree at the grave of loved ones will never be known.

“Some 10 years ago, less or more, the spot had been reclaimed, the brush cut away, the grounds enclosed by a substantial fence of barbed wire with locust posts, and two soldier’s markers set. Headstones furnished by the United States Government. There are many old unmarked graves hidden among the thick growth of pine brush.

“There is a grave off by itself in the brush with a headstone that reads: ‘Sacred to the memory of Littleton Hall, died July 12, 1872, aged 60 years, 8 months.’

“There is a grave in which sleeps the ashes of a Revolutionary patriot. The only marker is the government stone, inscribed, ‘John Hill, Leech’s Company, Pennsylvania Mil. Rev. War.’ Hill came to Wood County before the fall of 1805 and purchased 230 acres from Hugh Phelps.

“By Hill’s side sleeps a daughter, Margaret, wife of Jacob Deem; she was born in 1793, died April 6, 1858. (Jacob Deem, Jr. married Margaret Hill, July 20, 1815.) By her side lies: Jacob Deem [Jr.], born August 10, 1790, died January 12, 1884. A stone in front, furnished by the United States, reads: ‘Jacob Deem, Ensign, 1 Virginia Mil. War 1812.’ Of the Deem family I have little. He was the son of Jacob, Sr. Elliott and Derastus were his sons; Louisa, wife of Littleton Hall, was his daughter.”


Correction: In last week’s Look Back it was stated that James Shingleton’s wife was interred in the Pickering Cemetery. That was wrong. I have been told that she lies in the Kanawha Baptist Cemetery near Leachtown.


Bob Enoch is president of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society. If you have comments or questions about Look Back items, please contact him at: roberteenoch@gmail.com, or by mail at WCHPS, PO Box 565, Parkersburg, WV 26102.


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