Old cemeteries

(1996) There are two churches with cemeteries in Bath County that contain the graves of people in this family history. The Windy Cove Presbyterian Church on Rte. 39 is the older. It has two cemeteries. The burial space immediately around the church (Fig. R023a) filled up in 1910, and at that time an auxiliary cemetery was opened 0.6 mile SE of the church. The other church with a cemetery is the Horeb Baptist Church on Rte. 42, built in 1887 (Fig. R023c). Here Lewis (a founder of the church) and Emma Wood [R005] and most of their children are buried. These cemeteries are well kept.

Bath County cemeteries generally are not as informative as a genealogical researcher could wish. This is because the oldest grave markers have not survived. The earliest markers, when this was a frontier community, would have been wooden headboards and flat slabs of sandstone with inscriptions crudely carved in them (Fig. R022a). These are gone. Marble gravestones with skillfully carved inscriptions began to be imported in the early nineteenth century, but they were not a great improvement because marble weathers badly (the rain literally dissolves it away over a period of time). Thus inscriptions older than ~1820 often are not readable. The older Windy Cove graveyard contains very few stones: it is now mostly just grassy lawn, but presumably completely filled with burials whose markers have vanished.

Most early residents of Bath County were buried in family plots rather than churchyards. Unfortunately sooner or later each of these ceased to be tended by a loving family, and then it returned to nature with amazing speed. Under the best of circumstances an open forest grew up among the graves and surrounded them, but it is still possible to read many of the gravestones. Peck LaRue showed me such a cemetery (Niceleys and Armentrouts) in the vicinity of the White House, and another containing Sitlington burials as late as 1892 between Wallawhatoola and Millboro Springs (see [S051]).

The Indian Hill cemetery, atop a hill behind the now-defunct Indian Hill Church (Fig. R003a; Fig. R022b), though not a family plot, is in this category. It ceased to be tended when the Church, an outpost of the Windy Cove Presbyterian Church, was closed, ~1970. It is of particular interest to this history because Edward and Sarah Wood [R003] are probably buried here, and some of their descendants. However, few gravestones are left standing and readable, and these do not include markers for Edward and Sarah. Presumably most of the stones have fallen and become covered by forest soil. (Janis LaRue remarked that her father copied the information on all the stones in the Indian Hill Cemetery in the 1930s, when it was still tended. This data was sealed in the cornerstone of an addition built onto the Windy Cove Presbyterian Church in 1959. Unfortunately the only copy of the information was put in the cornerstone.)

In the worst cases, small burial plots have become lost or completely obliterated. The last of the Sitlingtons in Bath County were buried in a family plot at the Sitlington Stone House; later owners of the house did not tend the fence enclosing the plot, and over a period of time cattle knocked the stones down and trampled them to oblivion (see [R521] and [S051]).

Of particular interest to Woods is the Wood family cemetery (Fig. R022b) a mile southeast of Glenn Wilton, Botetourt County (shown in the map of Fig. R002c). Many of the descendants of Joseph and Mary Wood [R002] are buried there; see the (S067) entry under Sources and Notes, which lists the Wood headstones. The oldest is that of Thomas Wood [R252] (Fig. R022c; 1780-1849, born in Charlotte County), a son of Joseph and Mary Wood [R002]. There are quite a few old graves with no markers in the cemetery.

The cemetery at Mingo W.Va. (Fig. R022d), where most of Edward Wood’s children are buried, is a special case. This began as a family cemetery for the Moores (who were closely intermarried with the Woods), but grew to include the rest of the community. However though it is quite sizeable by now it still has the character of a family cemetery, since almost everyone is related in those parts. It is very well kept, and the community is justifiably proud and solicitous of it. In 1995 the Trustees of the Cemetery got out an excellent book of recipes, some of which are dedicated to fondly remembered deceased relatives and friends, to raise money for the upkeep of the cemetery. Also in 1995 our cousins in the area badgered the Veterans’ Administration to erect a new stone for Tommie E. Wood [R261], that fierce old Confederate, and raised money to place a stone for his wife Sally, who had not previously been commemorated.