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Civil War soldiers buried in Wood County

June 20, 2013
By BRETT DUNLAP ( , Parkersburg News and Sentinel

PARKERSBURG - A local woman is compiling a list of all of the Civil War soldiers buried in Wood County.

Mary Jo Blythe, a member of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society, has been working on compiling a list since 2011 and has around 90 percent of it done and hopes to have it completed by the end of this year.

''As a member of the Wood County Historical Society and as a Civil War buff, it came to me that it would be a great project to go and identify all the Civil War veterans that are buried in Wood County,'' Blythe said.

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''As far as I know, a list has never been compiled for Civil War veterans,'' she said adding past lists have included veterans of wars prior to the Civil War, the Civil War and afterward..

Blythe has identified more than 1,200 graves in Wood County belonging to Civil War veterans with around 85 percent having served with the Union and 15 percent serving the Confederacy.

There are 150 cemeteries in Wood County which have Civil War veterans buried with some having only one grave.

Fact Box

Photo by Brett Dunlap

Riverview Cemetery in Parkersburg has 54 graves of Civil War veterans. There are 150 cemeteries in Wood County where at least one Civil War veteran is buried

The largest site is in the Parkersburg Memorial Gardens (previously known as the IOOF Cemetery and the Odd Fellows Cemetery) with 254 Civil War veterans' graves. Other cemeteries include Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Parkersburg with 112 Civil War veterans' graves and Riverview Cemetery in Parkersburg with 54 graves.

The most represented unit for the Union is the 11th West Virginia Infantry with more than 100 members buried locally. The Confederacy's 20th Virginia Cavalry has over 15 members buried locally. There also is around a dozen African-American Union soldiers locally buried with the majority in Spring Grove Cemetery in Williamstown..

''A good portion of this project is done,'' Blythe said.

She wants to identify each veteran by name, the cemetery where they are buried and the unit they served with, if that information is available. She wants to compile this information into books which would be available at local libraries, the Wood County Courthouse and the West Virginia Archives.

Blythe has a number of criteria to identify Civil War veterans and their graves. These include the grave having a Civil War military marker or a family marker makes note of the Civil War service; the 1890 veterans' census, Hardesty's Historical and Geographical Encyclopedia, Wood County histories and family histories; obituaries, death certificates; the Works Progress Administration's maps of veterans' graves done in the 1930s; and the National Park Service Civil War website.

She started at the Parkersburg/Wood County Library where records were available of civic groups in the past who had done a cemetery readings.

''Sometimes it will be a military stone with information on their military service,'' Blythe said. ''Others don't make mention of military service.

''In those cases, it could be mentioned in an obituary. I started looking for people born in the 1830s-1840s or so who might have served. They would be the most likely candidates. I would check the obits and sometimes it said they were a veteran of the Civil War or a Union or Confederate veteran. If I can establish they were a veteran, I will include them even if I can't identify their unit.''

There are a lot of interesting veterans buried here with interesting stories, Blythe said. She has tried to save those stories for another compilation the historical society plans.

One was a Confederate veteran, James Dugan, served in the Stonewall Brigade in the Confederate Army. He is buried at Mount Carmel Catholic Cemetery.

Blythe said he was approached in the early 20th century by a reporter with a Parkersburg newspaper for his story. He kept putting it off and a year or so later he died. A week later the reporter received a package and it was this man's life story, focusing on his service in the Confederate Army.

''He talked about joining, the battles he saw, and he was at Chancellorsville (Virginia) where Jackson was mortally wounded,'' Blythe said. ''Dugan was wounded, but believed he heard the volley that killed Jackson.

''(Dugan) had his arm amputated. He offered to continue to serve but because of his wound, he was turned down. He came to Parkersburg and ended up working for the B&O Railroad for a number of years.''

Another story came from a George Beorn, a Union soldier who is buried in Red Hill on U.S. 50.

He was shot between the eyes at the Battle of Chancellorsville, but the shot had lost most of its momentum and the ball dropped though the roof of his mouth an onto his tongue. He recovered from his wounds. and kept the shot ball as a souvenir.

She also came across a story of three union veterans attending a meeting of the Grand Army of the Republic, an association for Union veterans, in Parkersburg in the early 20th century who got together with musical instruments in front of the Blennerhassett Hotel and entertained veterans with songs from the Civil War. There were five GAR chapters in the area with the largest being the Andrew Mather Chapter with over 300 members.

The Confederates had the United Confederate Veterans.

Many veterans, if they survived the war, lived until around the 1920s-1930s.

There are two Medal of Honor recipients buried locally with the possibility of a third. Adam White, who is buried at Wadesville, served with 11th West Virginia Infantry. Richard Boery (who is buried at Parkersburg Memorial Gardens) served with the 1st West Virginia Cavalry.

''I heard there was a third but I haven't identified him yet,'' Blythe said. ''They won it for capturing an enemy flag.

''It originated with the Civil War.''

Flags were usually heavily guarded and it was hard to get one so it was something of note when someone captured one.

Blythe was surprised by the number of soldiers who were born in other countries who enlisted and served in the Civil War.

White was born in Switzerland. Blythe said there were a lot of men from Ireland serving on both sides.

''It is interesting when you get into it that all of these people become real and you find families, brothers fighting together and fathers and sons fighting together,'' she said.

Blythe came across a story of a local soldier who was present at the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House where he saw General Ulysses S. Grant, Gen. Robert E. Lee and others military leaders. This soldier was also one of the soldiers to accept the weapons when the Confederates laid down their arms.

Lt. Adam Turney Kreps, who is buried at Parkersburg Memorial Gardens, was a white officer with the 92nd Pennsylvania U.S. Colored Infantry. His name is listed on a memorial in Washington D.C. honoring the African-American units who fought in the Civil War.

''He was a Union officer who became an officer over a black unit,'' Blythe said. ''That was brave, because the Confederates made it know that any white officers over black units were captured they would kill them.

''He was taking his life in his hands. I thought that was interesting that he would volunteer for that duty knowing the risks.''

There were five former mayors of Parkersburg who served during the Civil War, four for the Union and one for the Confederates. The Confederate was Charles Turner who served with the 6th Louisiana Tigers and was wounded twice. He was born in New York, but his family moved to New Orleans and he eventually served the Confederacy in the war. The story Blythe found said he walked what would become the Staunton turnpike into town. He found work and eventually was elected mayor.

''There are a lot of interesting stories out there about these men's service,'' she said.

Blythe has found a lot of prominent family manes throughout the records she found, families including Wieser, Tebay, Ruble, Dils, Tygart, Neale and others with strong ties to the area.

Civil War veterans buried in Wood County have come from Union units based in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, Indiana, Kentucky, the District of Columbia and Illinois while many Confederates served with Virginia units, but others came from South Carolina, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Blythe admits the list will need to be updated as new discoveries are made.

''This will be an ongoing thing,'' she said. ''People will research their families and find new information.''

''It will be something that will never be complete as far as information goes, but it should be interesting reading for those who are interested.''



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