A History of Elmwood Cemetery

In 1780 Abraham Shepherd conveyed to the Elders of the Shepherdstown Presbyterian Church one acre in the northeast corner of what is today Elmwood Cemetery. This is the oldest part of the present cemetery.

The earliest grave in the Presbyterian Cemetery is that of Mrs. Sarah Morrow, mother of Mary Rumsey, the second wife of James Rumsey. Mrs. Morrow’s sandstone tombstone is still standing and her epitaph is legible. Mary Morrow Rumsey is also buried here but, unfortunately, her stone is missing.

There are two American Revolution veterans buried here, one veteran of the War of 1812, several Confederate veterans, veterans of both the First and Second World War including a Rear Admiral in the First World War.

The Presbyterian Cemetery is the final resting place of Dr. Joseph McMurran the first president of Shepherd College, and a Confederate veteran.

In 1833 the Methodist Church purchased one-half acre from Jacob Line that abutted the south border of the Presbyterian Graveyard. The two cemeteries originally were separated by a fence.

The Southern Soldiers’ Memorial Association formally purchased a “piece of land" from Jacob Line in 1868 that was adjacent to the Methodist Cemetery. The lot was intended as a permanent resting place for Confederate soldiers who were either killed at the Battle of Sharpsburg or died from wounds received there. A total of 114 men, many unknown, are interred here. The cemetery was officially dedicated on Confederate Memorial Day June 5, 1869.

In 1869 Elmwood Cemetery was officially chartered. Ten acres to the south and west of the existing church cemeteries were purchased by several town businessmen and donated to be used as a public cemetery under the guidance of a board of directors.

The Lodge House was built in 1870 by Elmwood’s directors as a residence for the groundskeeper. On Confederate Memorial Day, June 6, 1870, the Southern Soldiers’ Memorial Association dedicated the granite monument to Confederate dead.

Sometime between 1870 and 1890 The Vault was erected on the west side of Elmwood. It was at first used to store embalmed bodies if weather conditions made it impossible to dig graves. Later it was used as a place to store dynamite and maintenance equipment. Eventually it was abandoned and fell into disrepair. In 1999 restoration efforts began. The project was completed using strictly volunteer labor and donated materials. The Vault was re-dedicated in 2002.

The Henry Kyd Douglas Camp, Sons of Confederate Veterans assumed responsibility for the care and improvement of the Confederate Cemetery. In 1929 they constructed the Rostrum which served as a speaker’s platform on Memorial Day. Then in 1935 the camp along with the state of West Virginia erected the Confederate Soldiers monument and regimental roster. The concrete monument lists 535 area men who served in the Confederate Army during The War Between the States.

prepared by:
James C. Price,Member
Board of Directors
Elmwood Cemetery Assn.,Inc
Shepherdstown, W. Va.
January 24, 2007© James C. Price, 2007
Edited by P. Douglas Perk