Ward Cemetery is located in eastern Kanawha County 
on Kelly's Creek Road, one mile northeast of the 
town of Cedar Grove in the state of West Virginia.  

Official Site
Kanawha County, WV

Ward Cemetery

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ABOUT WARD CEMETERY

The precise details surrounding the establishment of Ward Cemetery are lost to time, but at some point during the very early years of the community's existence, a plot of land was set aside to serve as a burial ground.  The oldest marked burials identified in Ward Cemetery are those of Morgan Proctor and Victoria Elswick.  Both headstones are inscribed with a death year of 1896.  

As the Ward community grew, a burial fund was established for the coal miners of Kelly's Creek, their families, and other community members to help offset the cost of burials and to help with maintenance of the cemetery. The coal miners paid into the burial fund on a regular basis through payroll deductions, while other members of the fund contributed through direct payments.  During that time, the burial fund was managed by the coal company and at one time the cemetery had a few paid employees.
In the 1940s, new burials were initiated in the area now located to the left side of the drive-in gravel path.  The first persons to be buried on the left "newer" side were all WWII servicemen killed in action:

  • Mason W. Mounts - Killed In Action in Italy on March 4, 1944
  • Ralph Slate - Killed in Action in Italy on September 21, 1944
  • James E. Akers - Killed in Action in France on March 11, 1945

With the passing of time, the mining operations eventually shut down, the land leases ended, and families of Ward were forced to move out of their company-owned houses and relocate to other towns. That was the beginning of the end for the town of Ward and eventually, the end of the burial fund. With the coal mines and the mining town now gone, and the burial fund exhausted, the care of Ward Cemetery depends upon volunteers and donations. 


Ward Cemetery is not a perpetual care cemetery, it is not operated for profit, and there are no deeded plots. Ward Cemetery is still an active burial ground and the grounds keeping is currently under the care of volunteer caretaker Sherry Smith and the volunteer members of the Ward Cemetery Advisory Committee.  Ward Cemetery is very old and apparently its establishment was not documented in written records.  The cemetery has been cared for by volunteers for many years.

Despite information that can be found on the internet regarding presumed owners, Kanawha County records show no owner on record for Ward Cemetery.  Over the years, the county records have been researched extensively by numerous people, including several cemetery caretakers, county courthouse staff, and an attorney, and nothing confirming an owner of the property has ever been found.  No person has ever come forward and claimed ownership or taken responsibility for the care of Ward Cemetery.   
It is most likely that the cemetery property was surveyed off specifically for the coal mining community of Ward for the burial of it's miners and their families.  But is also possible that the cemetery was initially established by early pioneer settlers and may have existed before the land purchases made by Dr. David Ward.  No one knows for sure.  For information on Dr. Ward's land purchases in the area, READ HERE.
Kanawha County records show that Ward Cemetery property and the Ward Church of God property have been surveyed off separately from the surrounding property.  The property surrounding Ward Cemetery and Ward Church of God is owned by the Dr. David Ward Estate and heirs of Dr. Ward.  No owner is shown for Ward Cemetery.
 

INFORMATION FROM THE KANAWHA COUNTY ASSESSOR PARCEL DATABASE

District: 03
Map: 21
Parcel: 1
ParID: 03 21000100000000
Comments:
Account#: 06179850
Owners: WARD D ESTATE ETAL

District: 03
Map: 21
Parcel: 1.1
ParID: 03 21000100010000
Comments: WARD CEMETERY
Account#: 
Owners:  
District: 03
Map: 21
Parcel: 1.2
ParID: 03 21000100020000
Comments:
Account#: 07482707
Owners: CHURCH OF GOD

NOTABLE HEADSTONES OF WARD CEMETERY

Coal camps such as Ward were giant melting pots of different races, nationalities, and ethnic groups.  Ward Cemetery has never been segregated along racial, ethnic, or religious lines. Many headstones in Ward Cemetery tell the story of the immigrant workers who came to West Virginia to work in the mines.  Coal miners, railroad workers, veterans, civic leaders, union organizers, homemakers, educators, descendants of pioneer families and religious leaders of different faiths all worked together in building the community and all rest together in Ward Cemetery.  (Click on photo thumbnail to view larger photo.  You may need to disable any ad blocking software or popup blockers.)

Pioneer Family

The Morris family was the first white family to permanently settle the Kanawha Valley (Walter Kelly having been killed by Indians several months before the Morris family arrived).  In 1774 William Morris settled his family in the Kanawha River Valley at the mouth of Kelly's Creek.  Descendants of this pioneer family continue to live in the area and many are buried in Ward Cemetery.

Hungarian

Hungarian miners were second only to Italians as the most numerous immigrant group to work in West Virginia coal mines after the turn of the 20th century.  There are several headstones in Ward Cemetery inscribed in the 

Hungarian language (Magyar). Translated from Magyar to English, the above headstone reads:  

Here Lies 

Mrs. Steven Antal, 

Barbara Fonagy 

Born 1887 May 8 

Died Nov 30, 1919 

Quietly dream

Russian

Many of the Russian born coal miners came to West Virginia from the coal fields of Pennsylvania. Gregory Chirokoff was a coal miner born in 1876 in Moscow, Russia to Mr. and Mrs. Constantine Chirokoff. Gregory 

immigrated to the U.S. in 1906. At the time of his death in 1930, he had been living on Seng Creek Road in Garrison, Boone County, WV, and was working as a coal loader for Anchor Coal Company. He died from injuries sustained in a mining accident.

Veterans

Many veterans are also buried in Ward Cemetery.  One of the most notable veteran's headstones is this Union Civil War headstone for Sergeant John D. Martin. John D. Martin was a Confederate soldier who served with the 44th Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, (Thurmond’s Partisan Rangers), so we are unsure as to why he was issued a Union headstone. 



 

CLICK HERE FOR INFORMATION ABOUT WARD  CEMETERY BURIAL RECORDS