A group of individuals met Friday morning, at Arnold Cemetery in Weston, to work on straightening the iron fences, affixing grave markers that have come apart, unearthing tombstones that have been buried over time and general cleaning of the cemetery.
Several volunteers participated in the cleanup of Arnold Cemetery including members of the Army recruiting office, Junior Kelley,Weston City Councilman Dr. John Wyllie and Lewis County Commissioner Rod Wyman.
The group worked throughout the morning tending to many of the plots that have eroded over time and worked on fencing that had been damaged by fallen trees and erosion.
Army Sergeant First Class Justin Austin and his group of recruitment officers heard about the cemetery project and wanted to help with the cleanup and provide manpower to help lift the gravestones.
Wyllie has come up with the idea of having a nondenominational ceremony at the cemetery on Memorial Day, because many of the people buried at Arnold Cemetery were veterans. He said that this will take a lot of work, but it will definitely be worth it.
Wyllie will also be working with the Hacker’s Creek Pioneer Descendants (HCPD), to help identify families and find living relatives of those buried at the cemetery.
He then wants to work to designate Arnold Cemetery as a National Historic Landmark, which then will allow the cemetery to be eligible for grants to help with upkeep and other costs.
Wyllie would also like to establish a foundation, in honor of those buried in Arnold Cemetary, which would also help to fund upkeep costs of the historic cemetery.
Junior Kelley, a volunteer, used to live above Arnold Cemetery. Kelley takes care of some of the general upkeep of the cemetery and has researched most of the families in the cemetery.
Kelley said that there are 294 graves in Arnold Cemetery and out of those about 100 are covered up due to erosion and fallen trees. Forty-Seven children are buried in Arnold Cemetery. According to Kelley the children died from anything from Tuberculosis (TB) to the pneumonia to the black plague.
Kelley said that the most well known person buried at Arnold Cemetery is Alexander Scott Withers, who was the author of Chronicles of Border Warfare, which is a history of early white settlement of western Virginia (West Virginia) and conflicts with Native Americans.