Peninsula Cemetery, Wheeling

Wheeling News-Register
June 25, 1946

Part of City Cemetery Neglected

Old Tombstone Bears Warning To the Living

By Harry Hamm

Are They resting in peace?

This is the question asked by many passers-by in the upper end of the old Peninsula cemetery here, once known as "Potters Field." Apparently no care has been given this section of the graveyard for many years and now tombstones have been knocked down, with some lying in various positions that are anything but upright, and grass, trees, weeds and bushes have over-run the graves and hidden many of the markers.

Many visitors in this region have remarked at the sad condition of the city cemetery, and wonder why nothing is being done about it since the taxpayers' money is supposed to take care of it.

One old-timer here said, "I think it's a disgrace to the city of Wheeling to have a burying ground in this condition."

Opened in 1842

The Peninsula cemetery was first opened on May 2, 1842, by the town of Wheeling, Va. It is the third largest in the city, ranking only after Greenwood and Mount Calvary. Many bodies in the upper part of the cemetery date back some 100 years and were removed from the old Sixteenth street cemet[e]ry and placed there about 20 years ago. The Sixteenth street graveyard became non-existent and was replaced with the present Elks playground.

The front part and new half of the Peninsula cemetery, however, is found to be in good condition after much hard work by the caretaker in the past 13 years. The whole site takes in some 22 acres.

A "pest house" was once located at the top of the old cemetery where victims of smallpox were housed. In the early 1890's a smallpox epidemic swept the valley and hundreds died and were buried in this section of the graveyard known as "Potters Field." About 15 years ago the "pest house" was torn down.

Slave's Tombstone

Follow this course outlined and you will come to a very interestingly inscribed tombstone. Go to the top of Rock Point road and turn left entering from Seventeenth street, you will find a very good roadway and a short way further on it is blocked off with a wooden fence. Continue on in and walk down about 35 yards and then turn right.

Here, among the tall weeds, a huge tombstone leans over backwards. The inscription reads:

May 20, 1855
in his 64th year.
Lived with
D. Steenrod, ESQ.
37 years.

This man was a Negro slave for Daniel Steenrod, according to old-timers. Steenrod owned a large estate in the section now known as Chantal Court, Pleasanton and part of Mt. de Chantal.

One of the strangest quotations ever read on a tombstone is inscribed here and many a visitor should take heed.

These are the words inscribed:

Stop Stranger as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so must you be
Prepare for death and follow me.

(View a photograph of this tombstone)

The caretaker of the Peninsula cemetery has been there for some 13 years. He has a part-time helper and must care for the entire cemetery and dig graves. This keeps him very busy and leaves him no time to care for the old "Potters Field" section.

None For Sale

The plots of ground are all owned in this cemetery and none is for sale at the present. It is wondered if this is not why the city has left the graveyard continue in such a condition.

Another improvement could also be made at the cemetery in paving many of the old stone roads that make auto traffic very difficult.

It is hoped that some action will soon be taken to give the dead a better resting place.