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Shepherdstownás Sacred Ground

May 23, 2014
Kelly Cambrel - Chronicle Staff , Shepherdstown Chronicle

The Historic Shepherdstown Commission has begun work to restore what is believed to be the final resting place of town founder, Thomas Shepherd.

Mayor Jim Auxer and Eleanor Finn, president of Historic Shepherdstown, discussed the group's efforts to revitalize the Shepherd burial ground last week.

It all began, as Mayor Auxer explained, when "a tree fell and someone heard it."

A resident living nearby the cemetery contacted the corporation of Shepherdstown last year when she noticed a tree down in the historic cemetery.

At a meeting in March members of Historic Shepherdstown met with Gaye Shepherd, one of the few remaining members of the Shepherd family still living in the area to discuss ownership and maintenance of the space.

According to Finn the group moved ahead with plans to apply for a grant from the Eastern West Virginia Community foundation for $5,000 to repair the South Wall in the cemetery which has begun to deteriorate along with other portions of the cemetery.

Finn said the process of restoring the burial ground has fallen to the community given its history and uncertainty about its ownership.

"At some point we need to determine ownership of the cemetery," she said.

Currently members of the Historic Shepherdstown group are researching the original deeds of Thomas and his son Abraham to gain insight.

Mayor Auxer explained that a present, the Shepherd family is no longer believed to own any property in the corporation of Shepherdstown, most recently gifting McMurran Hall to the town with a self-perpetuating board of trustees, who now lease the clock tower and building to Shepherd University for use.

As it is believed to be the burial site of Thomas Shepherd, Finn said its crucially important to historic character of Shepherdstown that the site be better maintained moving forward.

The group is putting out a call to volunteers, as maintenance will require many hands, Finn said.

Those interested in volunteering can contact Finn by phone at 304-876-8489 or by email at



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