Move of graveyard sought

October 29, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A hearing will be held Friday in Berkeley County Circuit Court on a petition to move a 19th-century family graveyard to make room for industrial development just north of the city.

The graveyard is a small plot on land owned by the Oates Partnership in the Cumbo Yard Industrial Park, according to Robert T. Crawford, the executive director of the Berkeley County Development Authority. Crawford said the authority has a long-term option to buy the property.

According to court documents, the graveyard is on a property purchased by Jacob Wever as a 362-acre tract in 1827. He moved his family to what became known as Pendleton Farm. Margaret Wever died in 1833, followed by Jacob in 1844.


Mary Clare Eros, the attorney for the authority and Oates Partnership, said they want to "treat this entire matter with respect and dignity." She said the couple's graves have been identified, and two other headstones may be those of unmarried daughters Helena and Mary, or unmarried sons Jacob Jr. and George Wever. Eros said the tombstones are too worn and broken to tell.

The petition also stated that several slaves owned by the Wevers may be buried there. Eros said the site was surveyed by Thunderbird Archeological Consultants of Winchester, Va.

Up to 20 people may be buried in the graveyard, officials said.

"The cemetery sits on one side of a big, open pasture area. It's a nice piece of ground that would be very suitable for development," Crawford said Tuesday. He said it makes sense to move the graves now rather than wait until a company wants it for an industrial site.

"We've known at some point we were going to have to move it. With business today, businesses are on a fast track," Crawford said. He said the 11 a.m. hearing is part of the legal procedure for relocating the graves.

No one has been buried in the graveyard since at least 1870 and it has not been maintained for many years, according to Eros, who called the research "very interesting, historically."

"We went to some lengths to try and find the persons related to the Wevers," she said. Listed as respondents in the petition are seven known next of kin. None live in the area, Eros said.

Berkeley County Historical Society President Don Woods assisted in the search for relatives, going through burial and death records, newspaper articles and interviewing people familiar with the family. Eros said she had not been contacted by any survivors.

The authority proposes moving the graves to Green Hill Cemetery, where another member of the Wever family is buried. The authority plans to purchase at least a four-grave plot.

The petition stated the authority will also pay for moving the graves and for a monument to the Wever family and any slaves or other people found there.

Eros said Thunderbird Archeological Consultants would assist in excavating the site.

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