SHINNSTON NEWS & JOURNAL
November 6-12, 2008
By: Leigh C. Merrifield
News & Journal Editor
 
Harrisville resident, Dave Reynolds, visited the News & Journal office late Tuesday afternoon to report that a cemetery 
on Cunningham Run Road near Shinnston had been vandalized apparently an act of some Halloween mischief.
     Reynolds inherited the cemetery property from his grandmother and maintains it.  He comes himself to check on it several times a year, and thanks to the contributions of some of the descendants of those buried there who chip in annually, he contracts someone to cut the cemetery grounds every two weeks throughout the growing season.
     One descendant who resides in Clarksburg visited the cemetery this past weekend and noticed the damages done.  She called Reynolds and he paid a visit to the area on Tuesday to assess the damages first hand.
     There are approximately 100 graves there, he said.  Many of them are Cunningham names, however, some are relatives with names such as Harbert, Jones, Ashcraft, Griffin, Morrison, Haggerty, Drain, Sturm, Crimm, Nay, Martin, Cumbridge, and Taylor.  Nearly half of the graves suffered damage.
     Most of the graves are very old, dating back to 1861 when an epidemic of diphtheria hit the area and entire families were lost.
     We are assuming that it was some Halloween pranksters, he said, but it must have been a group of them because I had three other men with me today and we could not move the headstones that were toppled.  Considering their weight, it has to have been a group effort.
     Reynolds contacted the Harrison County Sheriff's Department and Sgt. K. L. McHenry visited the site.  Sgt. McHenry said that as soon as the report is filed, a detective will begin canvassing the area, speaking with neighbors to see if anyone noticed or heard anything suspicious.
     Collecting treats during Halloween is common, and occasionally there may be a little "tricking" as well, however it is usually limited to annoying mischief such ar stringing toilet paper or soaping a few windows.  This time, however, the damages were more than harmless misbehavior.  St. McHenry noted that any destruction of a cemetery is a felony.
     Anyone with any information may contact the Harrison County Sheriff's Department or call Mr. Reynolds at (304) 643-2889.
     If you have ancestors buried in the cemetery on Cunningham Run Road and are interested in volunteering any help or making a donation to fund the repairs, call the number listed above or contact Reynolds via e-mail at wvreynolds@zoominternet.net