Blockhouse Hill Cemetery

Blockhouse Hill Cemetery is actually three cemeteries in one, though any fencing that might have once separated them is long gone, and none is individually marked. Each section has its own unique history. The oldest dates back to the 1820s and is referred to as the Old Seventh Day Baptist Cemetery. The next section is the Catholic graveyard, whose first burial was around 1853. The newest section is the Odd Fellows, or IOOF, Cemetery that dates back to 1899.

 

The exact date that the three cemeteries became known simply as Blockhouse Hill Cemetery is not known, but the name is certainly quite appropriate. In late spring of 1863, in response to Confederate raids on the nearby Parkersburg Branch Railroad, a military Blockhouse was built near the base of the hill, which has been known by that name ever since.

 

The oldest cemetery sits on the site where the first church in Doddridge County was located.  It was called the Middle Island Seventh Day Baptist Church. The church house was destroyed in a tornado in the mid 1830s, but its cemetery continued to be the burial ground for several of our county’s oldest and most prominent citizens. Many families buried there came to our area starting in 1837 with the construction of the Northwestern Turnpike, which ran just below the cemetery hill. A few of the more notable citizens buried there are Nathan Davis (founder of West Union and a Militia Captain), Congressman Lewis Maxwell, Judge Chapman J Stuart (credited with naming the newly formed state of  West Virginia in 1863), and several Civil War veterans, both Union and Confederate alike.

 

The Catholic Cemetery is just as historic in its own right. In 1852 when construction of the Northwestern Virginia Railroad from Parkersburg to Clarksburg started, there was a huge influx of Irish immigrants into Doddridge County. These immigrants were largely responsible for building the railroad that not only contributed to the success of the Civil War, but also led to an unprecedented period of wealth and prosperity in West Virginia. Many of those buried in this cemetery were born in Ireland and died tragic deaths from railroad-related accidents or one of the many epidemics prevalent in those early years. Many of the headstones are unreadable and some only have fieldstones to mark their graves. Through death records and obituaries, we now know that there are over 51 unmarked graves in this cemetery.

 

The Odd Fellows Cemetery had its first burial in 1899. Many prominent citizens are buried in this section, including lawyers, doctors, merchants and numerous veterans. In 1950 Doddridge County experienced a devastating flood that killed 22 people. Five members of the McKinney family that died in that flood are buried here.

 © 2020 Doddridge County Heritage Guild