VIENNA - One the oldest cemeteries in Wood County, the Neale-Cook Cemetery in Vienna, was rededicated Saturday.
Vienna Mayor Randall Rapp said the effort to rededicate the cemetery began in the spring.
"About eight months ago, a lady named Patty Cooper came into my office and she said she had been cleaning the cemetery and wondered if there was any way the city could help out in hauling the brush away," he said. "I asked our public works guys to take a truck down to help with the effort."
Photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Members of the West Virginia National Guard 1092nd Engineer Battalion raise the flag during Saturday’s rededication ceremony of the Neale-Cook Cemetery along 12th Street in Vienna.
After a while Rapp said it became part of the department's routine. He said Cooper and her husband spent most of the summer clearing the cemetery of brush and debris.
Later, he said, the parks department got involved and the historical society began to research the site. Rapp said some old dilapidated buildings on the site were demolished and the fence that was damaged was replaced and is slated to be replaced again after a recent accident.
Rapp said one of the earliest deeds in the county recorded a transfer that included the cemetery site.
At A Glance
* Vienna's Neale-Cook Cemetery was rededicated in a ceremony Saturday.
* There are 365 gravesites in the cemetery, with at least 27 known military personnel burials.
* According to Wood County deed records, the cemetery is part of a tract of 208 acres sold to Joseph Cook and to his heirs by Joseph and Deborah Spencer on April 2, 1804.
* The first burial at the cemetery was in 1852 and the most recent was in 2012.
"On April 2, 1804, Joseph and Deborah Spencer, of Wood County, Virginia, sold to Joseph Cook, and to his heirs, also of Wood County, Virginia, 208 acres for $1,200," he said. "This parcel was part of a tract of land of 400 acres belonging to William Smith in 1785."
Records show the first burial was in 1852 when Abraham Samuels was buried there after his June 21, 1852, death. Rapp said the most recent burial was of Ronald David Burdette on Oct. 21, 2012.
There are 365 sites in the cemetery, with at least 27 known military personnel burials.
For the past 25 years the caretaker of the cemetery has been Naomi Dixon, who said she is pleased with the work that has been done, including the new memorial to all veterans.
"The only word I can think of that minutely comes close to describe this is 'magnificent,'" she said Saturday.
Dixon added she has 27 family members buried in the Neale-Cook Cemetery. She intended to maintain her family members' plots.
"I paid out of my checkbook and I maintained my families burial plots and the others benefited from it," she said. "I paid my son to care for our family plots and we don't ignore the rest."
Cynthia Buskirk, a local historian and a cemetery trustee, said there are no Confederate Civil War veterans buried at the cemetery.
Greg Smith, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, spoke during Saturday's ceremony about the importance of remembering veterans from all wars and services. Smith addressed the significance of the inscription on the memorial.
"Let me tell you what's important about what we are doing in rededicating this cemetery," he said. "What's important is the statement over there on that monument; it says this is a memorial to all veterans of all wars, past, present and right behind the flowers it says future.
"The reason we avoid those wars of the future is that we remember the wars of the past and the price that we had to pay for freedom and the price men and women today who are willing to sacrifice for the freedoms of our country that our children deserve today."