WHEELING - Trying to reset a granite obelisk is not a task to be taken lightly - especially when it weighs 1,400 pounds.
That's the job Rock of Ages Memorials employees took on Monday morning in Wheeling as part of the Restore Mount Wood Cemetery project.
"We'd like to get this place looking good," said Rebekah Karelis, Wheeling National Heritage Area Corp. historian. "Mount Wood is one of the best places to view Wheeling and the surrounding area. It's the oldest existing cemetery in Wheeling."
Photo by Shelley Hanson
Kirk Boughner of St. Clairsville, left, assists Rock of Ages workers Jason Weiss and Tom Winland in resetting a fallen headstone at Mount Wood Cemetery on Monday.
The cemetery is located off Mount Wood Road. Funding for the project is coming in the form of donations to the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley.
WNHAC, along with the Friends of Wheeling historic preservation group, organized the project which involves resetting small and large headstones. Rock of Ages donated its time to reset four large monuments Monday. Straps were affixed to the obelisks that were carefully raised and placed back on their bases. An epoxy was used to help keep them in place.
"This is the most dangerous part. The weight of that is unreal," said Kirk Boughner, former owner of Boswell Monuments which was purchased by of Rock Ages - now managed by his wife Lynne in Wheeling.
Without ancestors to take care of the headstones most have either fallen due to shifting land or vandalism. Boughner believes some of the larger stones were either pushed over or struck by falling tree branches.
"This is city-owned property. They have done a great job cutting the grass and cleaning the grounds. They tell us there are little to no ancestors visiting the grave stones and grave sites," Karelis said, adding one person did visit a grave site that morning.
Wheeling historian Margaret Brennan said the cemetery is where some famous Wheeling residents are buried such as Noah Linsly, founder of The Linsly School; Lee Hobbs of the Hobbs, Brockunier glass company; and Dr. Simon Hullihen, one of the founders of Wheeling Hospital. She applauded Karelis' and Friends of Wheeling member Jeanne Finstein's efforts to help the cemetery.
Karelis added the Ohio Valley Young Preservationists are working to start a database of people buried at the cemetery by attempting to read the names on each stone. Some stones have worn away until the point of not being able to decipher the names or dates on them.
Meanwhile, on future Saturdays, the dates of which have not been set, Karelis said those wanting to help her reset headstones can do so. Some stones already have been fixed at the cemetery, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.