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‘Spirit of Elmwood’ tour focuses on cemetery’s history, notable residents

By Staff | Jun 15, 2018

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle Doug Perks, Elmwood Cemetery Association’s board historian, discusses Elmwood Cemetery’s history and its residents during The Spirit of Elmwood Tour.

The “Spirit of Elmwood” tour of The Presbyterian and Methodist Grave Yards drew dozens of local residents to Elmwood Cemetery on June 11.

The fundraiser, which was held by the Elmwood Cemetery Association’s Board of Directors and led by Board Historian Doug Perks, focused on the cemetery’s charter 149 years ago and the lives of some of its residents.

“We want people to know about the cemetery,” said Board Secretary Barbara Nickell as she collected donations for the superintendent’s house, the one part of Elmwood Cemetery in need of restoration.

“All of the donations go to the restoration of the superintendent’s house, which was built right after the cemetery charter was made – 150 years ago next year,” Nickell said. “What we’re trying to do is stabilize it and get it restored.”

Vicki Smith, of Shepherdstown, said Perks made the tour special.

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle A flag on Sarah Morrow’s grave marks it as that of one of the notable residents in Elmwood Cemetery’s Presbyterian graveyard during the tour June 11. The fundraiser was held by the Elmwood Cemetery Association’s Board of Directors. It took place in the Presbyterian and Methodist Grave Yards.

“I always want to hear Doug whenever he speaks,” Smith said. “He’s one of those people who knows a lot about local history.”

Betty Lowe, Shepherdstown’s Historian Laureate, agreed, mentioning the tour’s discussion held significance for local attendees.

“These people are the roots of the history of Shepherdstown,” Lowe said. “A lot of their descendants are still around here.”

“Shepherdstown has a deep history,” Perks said. “The purpose of these tours is to bring to light the men and women who lived here,” He said the tour was the board’s way of kicking off next year’s sesquicentennial commemoration of the cemetery’s incorporation.

Perks discussed 10 graves within the oldest part of the cemetery, the Presbyterian and Methodist graveyards. The five Presbyterian graves discussed were those of Sarah Morrow, Van and Sarah Mark Rutherford, Joseph McMurran, Dean Alva Dane Kenamond and Stephen F. Curran. The five Methodist graves discussed belonged to Benjamin and Mary Boydstone, Joseph Shindler Fleming, Grandison Templon Licklider, George Henry Ramsburg and Captain Richard W. Cotton.

Tabitha Johnston/Chronicle The tour focused on the cemetery’s charter 149 years ago and the lives of some of its residents. Donations went to the restoration of the superintendent’s house.

“In 1869, Elmwood Cemetery was founded,” Perks said. “The cemetery’s founders approached the Methodist and Presbyterian churches and asked if they would consider combining their graveyards, which they agreed to do.”

Perks said the graveyards date back to the late 1700s.

Perks’ research for the tour began in March. While he focused on collecting the histories of the Presbyterian graveyard residents, board members Jim Cain and Tom White researched the Methodist graveyard residents.

“Hundreds of men, women and children are buried here,” Perks said, following with a joke: “People are just dying to be buried in Shepherdstown.”

Elmwood Cemetery has 2,000 grave lots available for purchase. To find out more or donate to Elmwood Cemetery, visit elmwoodcemeteryshepwv.org.