Left OrnamentA vintage photograph of Woodlawn and the ChapelRight Ornament
Above: A vintage photograph of beautiful parklike Woodlawn Cemetery

Fairmont Realtors Sell Plots.
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Woodlawn GateOriginal Gate to Woodlawn Cemetery

"Begun in 1875 with the death and burial of Joseph Richey Hamilton, Woodlawn Cemetery was incorporated in 1885. The fence and gate are no longer there. The entrance has changed dramatically... Today Woodlawn covers 42 acres and holds over 15,000 graves, including that of Francis Harrison Pierpont, the Father of West Virginia, two governors, numerous national and state legislators, and veterans of all of America's wars (Courtesty of Diane Hutchison Parker.)" This photo and text are on page 20 of "Images of America: Fairmont's Cemeteries" by Gena D. Wagaman, 2007



The Beginnings of Woodlawn Cemetery

The first burial in what is now Woodlawn Cemetry was April 15, 1875. Young Joseph Hamilton was found shot with his gun beside him. He was in the old sheep yard on the Elmus and Louisa Hamilton (early Marion County pioneers) property, the part of Middletown, now Fairmont, called Woodlawn today.

It was always supposed that the gun was accidentally discharged by Joseph Hamilton himself, probably as he fell from the dividing fence between the Hamilton and Barn[e]s properties. At that time this ground was called "Hamilton Hill," and the Hamilton family were considered community leaders in terms of "land ownership and social standing." Joseph was buried on the spot and from that burial grew Woodlawn Cemetery.

With over 11,000 graves today, Woodlawn is the resting place of many of the people who helped make Fairmont, Marion County, West Virginia and the nation.

The number of burials in Woodlawn jumped between 1878 and 1879, when the graves of those buried in the Old Presbyterian Church Cemetery were reinterred in Woodlawn. The old church building was razed and a new church constructed at 301 Jackson Street in order to make way for an office building on the corner of Adams and Jefferson streets. Among those relocated graves were those of Boaz Fleming, the founding father of Middletown (Fairmont) and his wife.

Around 1892 there was a burst of excitement when excavations began for the Smith and McKinney building. An additional petrified body was discovered in the soil of the old cemetery. It laid there exposed for weeks, and people came from miles to see the sight. This last body was finally also moved to Woodlawn, although some of the petrified bones were said to be souvenirs of some people in the city.

It wasn't until about 1930 that a group of realtors, spearheaded by Colonel A. Howard Fleming, a former Fairmont resident, came up with a plan to endow Woodlawn as a perpetual care cemetery. Colonel Fleming was a pallbearer at the very first funeral held in Woodlawn.

The realtors offered to sell the remaining 400 lots, and it was proposed at that time the cemetery be closed. (The cemetery did not close.) The realtors proposed that when the cemetery became endowed, "the care and upkeep would be perpetual and the graves would be kept in first class condition. The roads will be under a perfect state of improvement; markers and monuments will be kept in position. This beautiful memorial park will be made and will be kept more beautiful..."

This was a grand plan and it worked for many years. Unfortunately today costs continue to rise and the initial endowment is no longer enough for the promised perpetual care. Our cemetery is still a beautiful and tranquil island in the heart of Fairmont, and cemetery workers and volunteers are doing their best, but they need your help. Won't you join the Friends of Historic Woodlawn so we CAN keep the promises made by Colonel Fleming?


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This article appeared in the Fairmont Times/West Virginian about 1930.

Established in 1875 as a corporate owned burial ground; extent, 15 acres; no restrictions as to type and placing of markers; fenced; landscaped; perpetual care; condition, good. Lots marked by concrete corner markets; graves by monuments and morticians' markers; lots for sale; burial records kept by H. J. McElfresh, Supt. Still in use as a burial ground. Earlist stone dated 1814; many stones predating the official estab lishment of the cemetery indicate removals from other cemeteries and that this plot has been used as a burial ground from early pioneer days. Markers placed on the graves of Gov. and Mrs. F.H. Pierpont by Haymond Chapter of DAR, also the graves of Peter Miller and Boaz Fleming, Revolutionary soldiers, have been marked by the DAR. Simon Shore, Sr, a soldier in the War of 1812, is buried here as is A. B. Fleming, Governor of the State of WV. A large monument erected by the Mead Circle, Ladies of the GAR near the grave of Governor Pierpont commemorates veterans of all American wars. Marked graves, 2,1545, unmarked graves, 1,445 or more. (Hand-typed document, dated August 1959)

©2012 Woodlawn Cemetery Company, Inc.