Location: On a hill between Ripley and Cedar Lakes Conference Center.
Directions: from Ripley, take Route 21 south, turn left on Cedar Lakes Drive. In about a mile, you will see a small hill and the road makes a fairly sharp turn to the left. The cemetery is on top of that hill. About 500 feet after the curve, there is a gate in the fence on the left. Inside the gate, a dirt road goes up the hill to the cemetery. Make sure the gate is closed to keep the cattle in!!! There is plenty of room to park at the cemetery, which is fenced and well maintained.
This cemetery was called the Harpold Cemetery when John House was visiting cemeteries in the late 1800's and early 1900's. House says:
"The western end of the elevation is fairly level on top and is a beautiful grove that slopes down towards the road on the southwest stands the Mount Calvary, M.P. Church, which, had it a new coat of paint, would be a beautiful and appropriate sanctuary. The eastern end of the little plateau has been consecrated as a resting place for the departed and beneath its turf, sleeping the last sleep, that knows no waking, repose the remains of some of the earliest pioneers of Mill Creek Valley." The full text of this article can be read here
We visited the cemetery 18 November 2008, on a snowy day. Some of the following pictures were taken that day by Marvin Robie and Betty Briggs, some were taken by Clement Matheny at an earlier time. For a larger resolution picture, email your request to me at Betty Briggs
I am very grateful to the Jackson County Historical Society (JCHS) for the transcription of this cemetery in a much earlier time when the stones were not so eroded, as well as John A. House, who recorded the dates and locations of many of the stones that were standing when he was there. My comments are in brackets [ ] and include information from my own database, available at West Virginia Pioneers .
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dh - double headstone
th - triple headstone
fs - footstone
mm - military marker
fhm - funeral home marker
From "Some Early City, Village and Country Burying Grounds" by John A House
The Harpold Graveyard
Above thy grave the robin sings.
The heart of Jackson County lies in the Mill Creek Valley, extending for a space of four milies along the creek, beginning at the mouth of Sycamore and reaching to the forks of the Creek.
There are wide and fertile bottoms in which could be laid off a fair sized farm and scarcely trench upon the slopes of the hillsides.
The creek enlarged in volume by the union of Trace and Tug Forks, sweeps grandly on in a series of bends and turns, hugging first the foot of one hill, and again, the other, crossing the valley almost at right angles and leaving great bodies of bottom lands first on one hand and then on the other.
How fine it has looked when still standing thick with an unbroken forest. The majestic oaks and poplars rearing their stately columns skyward and mingling their boughs in thick canopy a hundred feet above the leaf strewn ground. While beech and rock maple, elm, and shellbarks with trunks scarcely less imposing, grow thick everywhere and sycamores of every dimension from the symmetrical sapling, no more than a few spans in girth to the immense giants in whose hollow base, men may find shelter, spread their gnarled white arms and toss their myriad balls by the water side.
Deer, bears, buffaloes, wolves, panther and all the smaller animals of the forest were once here in abundance, and wild fruits and nuts to be had for the gathering.
Into this sylvan paradise came the hardy pioneer, and fast on his trail followed that grim enemy of all life, the pale horse and his rider. Making it necessary to set apart a spot as the last resting place of those who wee stricken down.
Perhaps a fourth of a mile forr the first ford above Ripley, the long southern ridge, as if weary of the perpetual swirl and rush of the water swerves, sharply to the left and throws an arm of cliff and rock and woods, halfway across the valley in a seeming attempt to close the outlet and dam back the flowing waters, were such the case, however, it proved a monumental failure, as the valley itself curved into the opposite hill and the stream ran frothing, fretting and gnawing along the base of the cliff at the upper side of this point, crossing to the far side of the valley, only to return from its grand sweep by the ford, now spanned by a neat bridge.
The arm thus thrust into the valley, is longest up and down the creek and is connected with the hills by a narrow neck of land, which sinks into a gap of perhaps one-half the altitude of the end of the point and through this low gap, crosses the public road on an easy grade.
A wild and picturesque spot is the eastern and nothern sides of this little hill as I saw it through the mellow haze of the September sunlight. In places, the face of the hill is a sheer cliff, fringed with bushes and trailing with vines and again, a steep, shelving, rocky slope planted thickly by the generous hand of nature with forest trees, it copses festooned with grapevines, wild woodbine and ivy.
The western end of the elevation is fairly level on top and is a beautiful grove that slopes down towards the road on the southwest stands the Mount Calvary, M.P. Church, which, had it a new coat of paint, would be a beautiful and appropriate sanctuary.
The eastern end of the little plateau has been consecrated as a resting place for the departed and beneath its turf, sleeping the last sleep, that knows no waking, repose the remains of some of the earliest pioneers of Mill Creek Valley.
The surface of the ground rolls very slightly every way from the center and, if it had the shade and attention of the Ripley burying ground, would be an ideal cemetery.
The trees have been cut away and the lot has been grown over in places with weeds and briars, through which the headstones appear to be struggling to assert themselves and carry their mesage of remembrance to the passing visitor, when visiting this place in September, I found it enclosed with a neat iron fence.
John Harpold died March 28, 1871, aged eighty-two years six months. So reads the inscription on one of the tombstones, a stone volume giving the bare outlines of the life of one of Mill Creeks first pioneers. This much will be remembered while the stone last. "John Harpold was, and again, he was not, and the time of the beginning and the duration of this days." This much and no more, the headstone tells us, unless there be some verse of eulogy which I did not copy. Then, we know from the presence of the stone that here is the spot where his bdy was laid away when life had fled. Another stone standing at the head of another mound and bearing the legend: "Rachel, wife of John Harpold, died January 18, 1868 aged seventy-seven years one month," tells us that he was a married man and that he walked three years alone and then lay down by the side of his companion in sight of the spot, where together, they fought the battle of life.
A simple calculation and we may know that John Harpold was born on the first day of September 1788. An obituary notice makes it November 2, 1788. Rachel Harpold was born January 12, 1791. Only this and nothing more.
One might study these marbles for ages and they would not give up any more of the history of these hardy pioneers. Ancestry, place of birth, date of marriage, time of settlement in this beautiful valley in an unbroken wilderness, the joys and hopes and fears,the opening up of the farm, the raising of the family who grew up under the parent roof tree and like full fledged nestlings, scattered to find homes of their own. These and myriad other things, which go to make up that mystery of mysteries, we call life, they offer not the slightest suggestion. The farm, itself, with its wide acres of bottom land and hills and coves wrested from the dominion of the forst and brought into use as pasturage for flock and herd, is a noble and fitting monument of the pioneer days, of the mind that planned and hands that wrought. But this, speaking eloquently, as it does of the how and the why and more faintly of the where, is mute and dumb as regards the who.
Even the family traditions are fast fading and in a few more generations, when the headstones have passed away, the names of John and Rachel Harpold will have passed into oblivion as have those of their ancestors of a few generations back. Such is the mutability of time and the press of the busy life of toda. Few have time or disposition to give more than a passing thought for a by-gone people.
John Harpold, it is said, came to this part of Mason County in 1808 or 1809, when there were but six families on Mill Creek. If this be correct, Benjamin Wright at Cottageville was one, William Parsons at Ripley another and Daniel Sayre on the Flats of Mill Creek, probably a third and Abraham Staats of the same vicinity, a fourth.
The names of John Harpold's parents, where they lived and whether they moved to Mill Creek, I have been unable to ascertain. We know of four of their children, John, who married Rachel Sayre on Mill Creek; Solomon, who married Malinda Shinn, an Aunt of George Shinn; Adam, who lived in Ohio; and Barbara, who married William Bonnet.
When Harpold located at the ford, which is called two miles above Ripley, I can not tell, but it was not later than 1830, probably several year earlier.
He bought his land, or one hundred fifty acres of it, from his brother-in-law, who owned all the valley, from the Parsons Farm to Carney's. Bonnet sold farms to Peter Cleek, Flesher, Acree and Harpold. A part, if not all, of Bonnet farm belonged to the Thomas Adams survey. Rachel Harpold was a daughter of David Sayre, who moved to Warth's Bottom from Greene County, Pennsylvania in 1801. A part of the house still standing, above the bridge at the Harpold Ford was built by John Harpold.
Levi Casto is another resident of this old neglected burying ground. He was a son of Willam Casto. Levi was born on the Buckhannon River, April 2, 1808 and died January 27, 1880 at the age of seventy-one years nine months. He married first, Sarah Wright nee Woodruff, widow of Daniel Wright, second Hannah Carney. He lived in the bend back of the graveyard and owned one of the finest farms in Jackson County. He raised a large family, seven sons and one daughter. If his wives are buried here, which is likely, either their graves are not marked, or I, in some unaccountable way, missed getting the inscriptions. Hannah Casto, his wife, died January 22, 1891, aged seventy-seven years, five months.
Thomas Bord was a son of Patrick Bord and came with them to Reedy in 1815, when he was about four years old. He was born about 1811, and died August 18, 1869, at the age of fifty-seven years, nine months. He married Sarah Harpold, daughter of John and Rachel Sayre Harpold, who was born November 23, 1811, and died March 22, 1883, aged seventy-two years three months. They lived on the Keenan Farm on the Trace Fork of Mill Creek, and had three sons and one daughter. Thomas Bord was something of a genius, a skillful gunsmith, and there is a story extant that he made a flying machine, with which he started from the top of one of the neighboring hill and soared majestically over Ripley, but unfortunately his machine broke. Bord could not speak plain, and from a habit of concluding his remarks with the phrase, "That's a fact." was generally known as "Fact" Tom or "Fact Sure" Tom, which served to distinguish him from his brother Joe Bord's son, Tom.
About 1850 or later, Nancy Vandyne, a widow from Botetourt County, moved to Tug Fork. One of her sons, John Vandyne, was Sheriff of Jackson County in 1861 or during the war. Several of the family sleep in the Harpold graveyard. A badly shelled sandrock with a very neatly engraved eight pointed star bears the inscription: "Sidney C. Vandyne, daughter of John and Jemima Vandyne, born 1840 and died in 1845", a child of course. The dates are given, but I did not copy them. James W., son of J.S. and J. Vandyne, died 1856. Jemima Vandyne, born 18__, died July 9, 1850. She was the wife of John Vandyne, date of birth probably unknown, J.S. Vandyne, died December 28, 1855, in his fortieth year. Nancy A,. daughter of J.S. and E. Vandyne, died in 1872, aged nineteen years, nine months. This E. Vandyne was presumably a second wife of J.S. Vandyne. C. and S. Vandyne's children, Martha, died in 1864; George W.S. died 1866. There were Vandynes in Jackson County in 1840.
There is a George Evans, died 1878, at the age of fourteen and Florence Evans died 1878 aged fourteen.
A nicely ornamented sandstone slab in a good state of preservation, informs the visitors that David Wright was born October 11, 1826 and died December 1849 aged twenty-three years and two months.
Jacob Hyre, died August 6, 1854 aged theiry-five years seven months. Erilla D., wife of Jacob Hyre died May 10, 1853 age nineteen years three months. She was born about 1833 or 1834. He was born January 3, 1818.
"In memory of Thomas Carney, Born October 15, 1768 and Departed this Life October 19, 1846, aged seventy-eight years and four days."
A humble flagstone, lost in weeds and briers and leaning forward at an angle, whose degree I will not venture to guess, bears the inscription of which the above is a facsimile. And here, in this little neglected country graveyard, overlooking the picturesque cliff and swift rolling swirl of the rushing waters in easy view of the wide sweep of bottom lands, once his own, the last lines of one of the most eventful lives with which the history of Jackson County ever had to do, were written in by the pen of time and the volume closed. A poor lad walking to the first old field school recorded on the Buckhannon River. Once a scout in company with Jesse Hughes and other hardy frontiersmen, standing as a solid bulwark, a mighty dike of flesh and blood of determination and purpose of indomitable courage and inflexible patriotism, holding back the floods of savage barbarism from the infant settlements west of the mountains. Then, a hardy pioneer, trying to make a living for his young wife and babes, by farming and hunting, yet compelled ever and anon to abandon his cabin and clearing and seek in the nearest block house, shelter from the midnight assault of the wily, prowling foe. An immigrant to the new regions of the west and one of the earliest settlers of the Mill Creek Valley, he participated in all the hardships and vicissitudes, the struggles and triumphs that belong with the log cabin of the pioneer. He then became owner of broad acres, of the best lands in Jackson County, wealthy for the day and time and filling public positions of trust and honor. Pushing again into the back woods where deer, bears and wolves are plentifully common, and anon a pensioner on the bounty of his children on who he had bestowed his lands and means. An old man, the erect form bowed, the eagle eye dimmed and locks frosted with the snows of many more than the three score and ten winters, tottering down to a low mound on this hill top. In all, and every one of these roles, he has fulfilled his mission. In each of these chapters he has accomplished his part. Long and weary roads were threaded, step by step, unto the end.
By the side of Thomas Carney's grave is another mound, equally lowly and equally weed grown and neglected and at its head another flagstone marker equally humble and just as quaintly marked and leaning at such an angle I had to get down on the ground to see its face and read the inscription, which told me that was the resting place of M. Carney, who died December 4, 1863, aged ninety years eleven months and four days. Truly, a ripe old age. Her birth date would be the first day of the year 1773.
Thomas Carney was of Irish Stock and was probably born on the South Branch or at the Horse Shoe Bend of Cheat River. Polly Parsons, his bride, was a daughter of Charles Parsons and a sister of Captain Billy, who first settled Ripley. Tradition says she was married while yet very young.
Near the same spot is the grave of Enoch Carney, born February 16, 1811, died August 10, 1883, aged seventy-two years five months and beside him, his wife, Martha J. Carney, died April 3, 1900 aged seventy-six years.
Other graves are those of Benjamin Rhodes, died January 11, 1900 aged seventy-four and his wife Hannah died September 20, 1895 aged seventy years two months, being born July 4, 1825. By them lies a daughter, Mazilla, born 1853 died 1864.
A marker in the form of a monument, marks the grave of Amanda B. McCoy born 1820 and died 1892, on the reverse side is Joseph B. McCoy, born 1815.
Joseph B. McCoy lives on the Adam Parsons farm at the foot of Salt Lick Hill.
Joseph Seyler, born October 22, 1822 died February 9, 1893, aged seventy years three months and Daniel Seyler, born November 16, 1816 died July 20, 1896 aged seventy-nine years eight months. Joseph and Daniel Seyler lie together, obviously brothers.
Alexander Dewitt died June 1874 aged forty-six years eight months.
In the northeast corner, under the shadow of a large oak tree growing just outside are the graves of Jesse Carney, died July 31, 1879 aged eighty-two years five months. Sarah, wife of Jesse Carney died September 16, 1869, aged seventy-two. Betsey, wife of C. Carney, died November 28, 1867, aged sixty-one years ten months.
Les Shockey and Betty Briggs, Co-Coordinators of the Jackson County WVGenWeb page.