At 150 years old, West Virginia is a gold mine of American history. Born out of the turmoil of the Civil War, some of the most influential people of that time were born, lived, and died here. So naturally, the places that hold those people and their memories, are some of the most interesting places around.
With graves dating back to 1782, Simpson Creek Baptist Cemetery is the oldest in Harrison County. It now lies within the Bridgeport Cemetery, toward the right of the entrance.
"Virginia Governor, Joseph Johnson, is here. He was a southern sympathizer during the Civil War, and was eventually captured," local historian, Dick Duez explains.
Remember the Waldo family, of the Waldo hotel and Waldomore? Some of that family is buried here too, and some of their descendants are still living in the area.
Relatives Mike and Mark Waldo said, "They settled just across the Taylor County line, near Jerry Dove Drive. We've been in this tight radius since about 1795 or 1796."
The legendary "Bridgeport Witch," Rhoda Ward, who was put on trial after witnesses claimed she threw up crooked pins, is also rumored to be here. However, historians aren't convinced.
"A fellow in Zanesville, Ohio, named John Ward, had an old maid daughter, named Rhoda, who lived with him probably until the end of her life, and we're confident that that's Rhoda's son, and that she was alive and well until at least 1791, and John's birth," local historian, David Houchin, explained. "So we don't think she died in Harrison County or that she's buried in the cemetery here."
In Clarksburg, another cemetery was established in 1865, called the Odd Fellows. Along with many Civil War veterans, Congressman Nathan Goff Jr., and leader of the statehood movement, John S. Carlile, are also interred here.
"If you like local history, it's always tempting to say, let's take a walk through the Odd Fellows Cemetery, and talk about the things that come to mind when you see the names of those people," said Houchin. "It's always a little poignant to be standing at their graves when you're talking about them. "
And the final resting place along the way was the Jackson Cemetery in Clarksburg, which was established in 1801. In an enclosed section to the rear of the cemetery, are the graves of Stonewall Jackson's father, sister, and great-grandparents. Former First Lady, Dolley Madison's sister, who married into the Jackson family, is also here, along with her mother.
"Her sister died young, and only one of Jackson's children by Dolley's sister lived to adulthood," said Houchin. " But none the less, as a member of Congress, he was the President's brother-in-law, which is a very good thing to be."