On Memorial Day weekend, many people are visiting cemeteries and remembering those who have died. Area residents also now have a special opportunity to help one of the region's oldest burial grounds.
In Wheeling, with the upcoming celebration of the sesquicentennial of West Virginia statehood and the somber observance of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, attention has turned to historic Mount Wood Cemetery, where some of the city's earliest citizens and at least 125 Civil War veterans are interred.
Last Sunday, Friends of Wheeling conducted a successful "Civil War and Other Tales" tour of Mount Wood Cemetery, attracting hundreds of visitors to the old hilltop site. City crews trimmed and spruced up the grounds in preparation for the tour; they installed a new railing along a long set of steps and erected a smaller temporary set of steps for tour-goers.
But, as happens with old cemeteries, many of the markers have fallen and broken, from the ravages of time or as the result of vandalism or through nature as falling trees have toppled some monuments. The Young Preservationists group in Wheeling, members of Friends of Wheeling and representatives of the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. have taken an interest in making repairs and preserving the monuments in Mount Wood Cemetery. The Young Preservationists and WNHAC officials are making an inventory of the graves there; they and several others are planning to participate in an upcoming three-day workshop on gravestone conservation.
During a pre-tour reception at Mount Wood Saturday, May 18, Jeanne Finstein, president of Friends of Wheeling, and Susie Nelson, executive director of the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, made an exciting announcement. They said an anonymous donor has provided $5,000 to establish the Mount Wood Cemetery Fund at the Community Foundation. In addition, the benefactor is willing to match the next $5,000 donated by the community.
Tax-deductible donations, with "Mount Wood" written in the memo line of checks, can be sent to the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley, P.O. Box 670, Wheeling WV 26003.
Former Bellaire resident Beth Bennington Rogers has been selected as "teacher of the year" in her Michigan school district. Her parents, Bob and Susan Bennington, reside in Bellaire.
The award includes a one year, cost-free lease of a Ford Escape car. Rogers, who is employed by Clarkston Community Schools, teaches fifth grade at Springfield Plains Elementary in Clarkston, Mich.
Rogers graduated from Bellaire High School in 1986 and from Kent State University in 1992. She earned a master's degree from Michigan State University in 2009.
Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@the intelligencer.net.