This cemetery, which is home to headstones that date back to to the early 1800's is one of the oldest in Wood County, WV. It is said to have an establishment date of 1821, as that was the death year of Captain James Neal, who is said to have built a pioneer fort not far from the cemetery property. Although this property has seen its share of better days, and has often fallen victim to vandalism several times, it still stands as a historical landmark for the Parkersburg, WV area.
Backstory and Context
Originally owned by Col. Hugh Phelps, a well known name in the Parkersburg area, the land was sold to Thomas Tavenner, another well known man in the area, and one who owned a lot of property in the Mid Ohio Valley. Wanting to create a public burial place for the town, it was stated in Tavenner's will that the land was to be used for just that. The land is located just a few plots down from the Phelps-Tavenner House, another property once owned by both Col. Phelps and Thomas Tavenner. It is also another historical landmark and is said to the founding place of the town of Parkersburg.
While there are many different early pioneer families buried on the land, several of the gravestones read "Tavenner". This along with Thomas owning the land is why the property was named Tavenner Cemetery. Col. Hugh Phelps and his wife Hannah are buried there, and until Thomas Tavenner was exhumed in the early 1900s by his descendants and moved to Mt. Olivet, another grave site in Parkersburg, he too spend some time buried there.
Just like several other historical landmarks, the cemetery has seen its better days. Run down from a lack of care, and well as being vandalized several times, the cemetery has seemed to go to the wayside. However, the Parkersburg Historical Society is attempting to raise funds to restore the property, by adding new fencing as well as recreating the headstones on several graves that have either been destroyed from man, or decaying from years of being under weather. Although time will continue to pass and names might fade from memories, the Parkersburg Historical Society is dedicated to preserving all the rich history that can be found in the Mid Ohio Valley, and will continue to for many years to come.
Fordyce, Teresa. Tavenner Cemetery Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia, Interment.net. July 22nd 2007. Accessed April 28th 2020. http://www.interment.net/data/us/wv/wood/tavenner/index.htm.
Little, Christy and Jeff. Tavenner Cemetary, Parkersburg Nostalgic Gazette. September 9th 2011. Accessed April 28th 2020. http://www.parkgaz.com/cemetery.php?cemetery_id=3.
Ellyson, Capt. Robert . Tavenner Cemetery, Historical Marker Project. September 10th 2013. Accessed April 28th 2020. https://historicalmarkerproject.com/markers/HM2C0G_tavenner-cemetery_Parkersburg-WV.html.