WARD CEMETERY HISTORY COUNCIL
EDUCATION AND PRESERVATION
THIS IS ONE OF MANY CEMETERIES IN WEST VIRGINIA THAT ARE NO LONGER MAINTAINED. IT APPEARS TO BE ABANDONED AND FORGOTTEN. PLEASE DON'T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOUR COMMUNITY CEMETERY OR YOUR FAMILY CEMETERY! PLEASE VOLUNTEER AND GET INVOLVED!
Photo by Jan Richardson
THE IMPORTANCE OF CEMETERIES
Cemeteries are more than just a place where we bury our deceased loved ones. When cemeteries are ignored and allowed to deteriorate, and markers are damaged, vandalized, or destroyed, society loses important information about the past, the people, and the communities in which they lived. American burial practices have varied widely depending on the period, cultural group, religious beliefs, and family customs. Cemeteries are some of our most valuable archaeological and historic resources. They often represent a diverse array of burial customs, social and cultural influences, religious beliefs, and ethnic identity. Cemeteries are very important resources for local historians and genealogists. They are a bridge between the past and future generations. When people understand the importance of cemeteries, preservation efforts are more successful and vandalism decreases.
Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its
dead and I will measure with mathematical exactness
the tender mercies of its people, their respect for the
laws of the land and their loyalty to high ideals.”
– Sir William Gladstone
CEMETERIES AND THE WEST VIRGINIA STATE HISTORIC PRESERVATION OFFICE (SHPO)
THE WEST VIRGINIA CEMETERY SURVEY
The West Virginia Cemetery Survey is a program designed to help genealogists, archivists, and other interested persons to locate, record, and preserve information about cemeteries within our state.
Initiated in 1995 by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Survey is designed to assist in the collection of many kinds of data from many types of cemeteries. From small family plots to larger church and municipal burial grounds, cemeteries hold a wealth of information about the people who settled West Virginia and made it what it is today
To learn more about the SURVEY and how you can help, READ MORE HERE.
The West Virginia Cemetery Survey form can be found HERE
WEST VIRGINIA CEMETERY LAW
West Virginia has enacted a variety of legislation aimed at protecting cemeteries, human skeletal remains, grave markers and burial artifacts; however, there is no cemetery board or similar state agency or association charged with overseeing the care and protection of cemeteries. Depending upon the details of an alleged violation, enforcement of the legislation frequently lies with various agencies such as the local sheriff’s offices, the county prosecutor's office, the county circuit courts, and certain state agencies such as the Department of Environmental Protection. Below are links to West Virginia State Code relevant to cemeteries and burials in West Virginia.
Please remember the basic rules of cemetery and headstone preservation:
DO NOT TOUCH HEADSTONES UNLESS YOU HAVE PERMISSION!!
Always exercise personal safety.
DO NO HARM AND TAKE NO ACTION THAT CANNOT BE UNDONE!
When cleaning headstones, use the mildest, least-abrasive method.
Use a soft brush. Never use a wire brush, sandpaper, or abrasive cleaners!
Never use bleach or other harsh chemicals!