I’m a firm believer in the idea that every stone has a story, from little Daisy Rhodes buried at Brown Cemetery in Hartford all the way up to President Washington in his tomb below Mount Vernon. The extension of that idea, if every headstone tells a story, is that a cemetery is the book that binds them together. The cemetery is, quite literally, local history written in stone.
Then, there is the human aspect. These graves were once fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers; farmers, merchants, teachers, doctors. These people lived in that old house down the street where your kid’s friends live now, and they shopped on the same Main Street that we see today.
For many, there is also a religious element to cemeteries. Especially true of older cemeteries, though less so for more recent burial grounds, these places are typically holy, consecrated ground. They were intended to be places of eternal rest, with east-facing graves awaiting the resurrection.
This is all true of Adamsville Cemetery, located between Hartford and Mason.
Adamsville Cemetery, recorded in early records as Cove Spring for the waters that used to flow from the holler behind it, is older than many of the towns in the Bend Area. The first burials in the old walled section were members of the Waggener family, whose plantation encompassed nearly everything from Sliding Hill to the Clifton Narrows. The plantation, however, only lasted a short time, and by 1840, much of it had been parceled off. The five principal landowners at that point, working down the river, were Daniel Polsley, John and A.L. Sehon, Robert Adams, John Brown, and Lewis Anderson.
Adamsville is, of course, named for Robert Adams. His farm stretched from the original boundary of Mason, Adams Street, to roughly the golf course driveway, and his two-story brick farmhouse still stands today. He and other members of his family were buried in the old walled section of the Adamsville Cemetery, alongside the Waggeners.
Now, if that were all there is to the cemetery, it would simply be another of 400 family cemeteries scattered around the county. However, that is not the end of this story. As the town of Mason grew, it became clear that a burying ground was needed that was idyllic and scenic, far enough that it wouldn’t get in the way of expansion, yet close enough to visit. Adamsville was a simple choice, and it quickly became the public town cemetery.
Dozens of the names from our local history books can be found among the stones. The Mumaw family was one of the first to move to the new Mason City, as teamsters for John Brown. Edward Edwards, a Welshman and another early arrival to Mason, ran the coal banks back on the hillside, the Mason City Salt Furnace, and the Hope Salt Furnace at various points in his life.
The graves of Will Jones and James Shoemaker who died in the 1878 boiler explosion of the steamboat BRILLIANT, little Johnnie Davis who died in an explosion at the Hope Salt Furnace, and smallpox victim Anna Mees are all here as well.
Dr. Cherrington, one of Mason’s early doctors, is buried here, as are many members of the Fruth family, whose descendants have done well in the pharmacy business.
John Mason, who left us so many important historical writings and served in various local government offices, is buried here. As is Henry Clay Turner, who served several terms as mayor when Mason was at its height.
Adamsville Cemetery truly is a veritable “who’s who” for Mason’s history, ranging from the Waggener family’s first settlement in 1815 to the present day, and like many older cemeteries, the headstones are beautiful works of art!
However, like many older cemeteries where there are few current burials, the Adamsville Cemetery Association is quickly running out of funds for the cemetery’s maintenance. Without support, especially from those families that have ancestors buried here, there soon won’t be money to pay the mowers and keep the cemetery maintained.
So, if you would like to donate, you may send your donations to Angela Stanley, PO Box 753, Mason, WV 25260 or take it directly to City National Bank in Mason, care of Adamsville Cemetery. There will also soon be a GoFundMe campaign for those who prefer that method. Any little bit helps ensure that this historic cemetery, located right on the main road across from Riverside Golf Course, is maintained for years to come.
Chris Rizer is president of the Mason County Historical and Preservation Society, reach him at [email protected]