Community helps revive cemetery

To the editor:

The recent overgrowth and unsightly condition of Paris Cemetery has been addressed and the cemetery is now going through an exciting transition.

The overwhelming responsibility left by the final board member to the caretaker led local families and friends to assist with clearing, cleaning and researching the cemetery’s history. News coverage through The Weirton Daily Times, Herald-Star and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review drew attention to the needs.

Paris Cemetery’s dilemma is not unique, as such problems occur across the country because of small, rural churches with adjourning cemeteries closing.

While encouraging Paris caretaker Les Grossman, we have drawn the interest of more than 40 newfound friends, who have been mowing, trimming, decorating, researching and networking to gather information as we celebrate local history and American patriots of the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and Desert Storm.

With the dedicated efforts of Andy Schrader of Cecil Township, son-in-law of former Paris resident and Daily Times staff writer and Community Editor Ruth Plunkett, we are making great legal headway toward re-establishing the status of the Paris Cemetery Co.

Early burial records indicate the property was in use as early as 1807.

Once the grounds are prepared for winter, we will continue to hold open meetings to develop an association to work toward a perpetual care fund.

In my personal enthusiasm for this endeavor, I want to thank Weirton attorney Michael Nogay for his initial help and historical encouragement by providing Daughters of the American Revolution research; also, Andy and Kathy (Plunkett) Schrader; Vennie Mellott for her dedication to family research and countless hours of labor, along with her friend Bob Toothman; Mercedes McCarthy, an area newcomer with great patriotic interest; Dennis Yapple, whose wisdom and friendship cheer us on; Joan (Mull) Weaver and daughter Cindy Irwin for tireless hours; caretaker Les Grossman for hanging in there; and Bob LaPosta, our Gathering Place host at Paris Presbyterian Church.

We especially express deep gratitude to the anonymous good samaritan who sent a private lawn service into the cemetery Sept. 11 to rough cut seven and a half acres at great personal expense.

The stories and history are unfolding daily, and we encourage continued interest of anyone who might want to join us.

While monetary support of Paris Cemetery, in care of First Choice America Federal Credit Union of Weirton, is appreciated, I’d like to encourage remembrance of veterans’ grave sites, as well as old, long-forgotten grave sites by placing evergreens for the holiday. What an awesome opportunity to pay it forward.

Many of the oldest graves, existing since the 1800s, are visible along Steubenville Pike. Walking through Paris Cemetery, I am drawn to the history and so many names that touched my life while growing up in the Weirton-Paris community.

The phrase “it takes a village” rings true for the Village of Paris. Pride has been restored to this historical landmark through combined efforts of community, families and loved ones of those who have been laid to rest there.

Patty (Gracie) Rhoades