POINT PLEASANT — Nestled away in a hidden corner of a large farm lies the Lewis-Sehon Cemetery, the resting place of many members of those families. It’s not large, no more than half an acre in size, yet it holds the remains of some of our area’s most influential citizens.
According to local history and deeds located at our county courthouse, the cemetery is located on land that was once part of a larger Native American settlement. Numerous mounds were once located on Oldtown Farm, and the remains of both a Fort Ancient and Shawnee village have been discovered nearby. Much later, in the 1780s, the land was divided up among officers of the French and Indian War, many of which served alongside the same man who surveyed this land, George Washington. The area around Point Pleasant was a part of 9,000 acres allotted to Andrew Lewis.
Of course, many people know of Andrew and his brother, Charles, who fell in battle at Point Pleasant in 1774. After Andrew was given this new land, he set aside a large portion of it for the heirs of his lost brother. Three of Charles’ children would take their uncle’s offer and move to the frontier. These were Margaret, Andrew, and Charles Jr. One of Andrew’s children, Thomas, also came to Point Pleasant.
All four arrived in our area by 1801, with some having arrived as early as 1794. Margaret married Allan Pryor, and lived near what is now Flatrock. Andrew married Margaret Stuart, and after moving here in 1801, established Violet Lawn plantation along Old Town Creek. Charles Jr. married Jane Dickinson and established what is now known as Oldtown Farm, though it was originally known as Beechwood. Thomas, a successful magistrate, sheriff, and militia colonel, moved to Mason County in 1794 to establish the first ferry across the Ohio River. His son, Thomas Jr., established Roseberry Plantation.
Roseberry and Violet Lawn were later sold, but Oldtown remained in the Lewis family until 2001, when the farm was auctioned off following the death of C.C. Lewis Jr. Roseberry is currently being restored by the Stover family, and Oldtown is now owned by the Simon family, but Violet Lawn burned to the ground years ago.
All four of the original Lewis children are buried at this cemetery, along with many of their children. The earliest burials are, quite literally, sons and daughters of the American Revolution, as well as some of our earliest settlers and slave owners. They all carried enormous influence in our region, some of which is still seen today, and their status is reflected by their headstones. Some of them, fashioned to look like a large, sandstone sarcophagus, would cost tens of thousands of dollars today. Others are marble, and if repaired, would stand over 10 ft. in height.
In recent decades, the cemetery suffered neglect and damage from vandals, but the new owners want to see it restored to its former glory. That is why, last week, the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society led a quick two-day project to remove brush from the cemetery. For such a short time, it was quite successful, and I’ll be working to restore the headstones once I’m back home in May.
The next meeting of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society will be Saturday, Feb. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the New Haven Library. Due to a small agenda the January meeting was pushed to February in order to start 2018 on a stronger note.
Information for this article taken from “History of Mason County (1987)” and local deed records.
Chris Rizer is president of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society.