Greene County Cemeteries

by Bill A. Davison

My main interest in Greene County Cemeteries is Family. My early Families in Greene County were either Slaves, or came from Slavery in Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Because of Slavery and missing or incomplete or just plain "No records at all", finding the resting places of my many family members in Greene County is difficult at best, and always ongoing.

Now, do I search only for my Family graves? No, I do not. There are several reasons why my search is for each and every grave site, family burial ground, graveyard, and cemetery. Family, as explained. Friends and strangers...people I may never know nor meet. They are in a similar situation as me. A person was here, that person died, and that person is buried in the County.

If the place of burial is documented and plotted so that one may visit that burial site, the seeker is fortunate. If there is little or no or iffy documentation, that is where the problem starts.

Some years ago, I purchased a Greene County Topo Map...looking for certain cemeteries and roads and related. I wanted to more about Negro Run Cemetery and Negro Run Road and Negro Run Schoolhouse and "Negro" is not the original name seen on maps. But instead of becoming angry, curiosity took over. Reading the last will and testament of a local African American woman, she mention "Niger Run" in her will. Niger Run. How did Negro Run get its name? I do not know. But looking at maps and finding a cemetery, a road, a run, and a schoolhouse all with the same name, there must have been an African American presence in that part of Gilmore Township. And there was! Niger could very well be where in Africa this African American's ancestors came from. If not for the mention of Niger Run in the will, my conclusion might have been different.

The Topo Map I purchased had many cemeteries already marked on it. From there, the search expanded. Until recently, I was not aware of the same type of maps used by the Hennen's in their cemetery research. While I referenced anything and everything cemetery related for Greene County, the Hennen's Topo maps were new to me. And they were welcomed and quite useful, of course. I have purchased several of the map you can see displayed in Cornerstone. I have donated them to several locations across the U.S. but the one here is the most complete and updated. Most complete! Not yet completed. When I started, I heard the number 400 places of burial in Greene County. Then I heard the number 600. I thought to work on 400 first, then more if I could find them. One day, while in Cornerstone, I was working on the 400 number and was at about 350. Two days later, well over 400. It is rather difficult to count the map's cemeteries but I estimate well over the 400 number. Closer to 500 and more, I think.

The Map itself...Hennen's Cemetery records...available Cornerstone cemetery records...the Fordyce photo CD.s, other cemetery photographs... to each and every person who offered help...anything and everything cemetery related. This is my research. I will not visit all the cemeteries. It is not necessary for me to do so for someone already has been to most. By a combination of efforts and research and photos and cemetery records and funeral home records and see the Greene County Cemetery Map on display at Cornerstone. And the amazing thing about research of any kind, is that it never ends. At least once a month I hear .. "Bill, do you know about _______ Cemetery"?

And even now, my answer could be, "nope, missed that one", or, "I knew about it but did not know it's location". Or, "I had it marked here, but it is over here...thank you". And Thanks to everyone who offers any information.

Have I found my families graves? Some of them, but not all. Are they all buried in Greene County? Good question. What is the exact location of the grave? Sometimes difficult to figure. Negro Run Cemetery in Gilmore Township: 1 White grave and 30 Negro graves. Who are the Negroes? I dunno. Who is the White? I have heard the name Kennedy. And that a Kennedy once owned a log cabin not too far up the main road. And that that log cabin might have been a stop on the Underground Railroad. Positive proof of anything? Not everything... but we do have the location of the cemetery and available records and nothing else. But I will not disregard anything I hear or anything I read for it just might have some truth to it. Any family's Oral Family History is quite important, especially when it comes to the "secret" Underground Railroad. But once I hear something, I do my best to research further for it might be my family either helping runaway slaves, or, being those runaway slaves. And if a house or building is mentioned with a "secret hiding place", was the house built before or during that time period. I have heard that many "built in hiding places" might have been constructed to "hide" "whiskey", rather than slaves. The difference is quite important to one descended from Greene County Slavery.

The Colored Graveyard in Cumberland Township. I have been to it, following directions. No grave markers. I have no idea who is buried there. Let me correct that statement. Using Greene County research, I have indications of early African American slaves of settlers in the area. Slaves lived and Slaves died... and Slaves are buried...somewhere. Colored Graveyard is a clue to the last resting place of at least one 'colored' person...Sallie.

Shannon Run Colored Cemetery in Perry Township. I was taken there by friends and strangers alike. Barbara McLaughlin is buried there...died in 1844. My GG Uncle Caleb Davison is buried there. Died in 1899. There are several markers there but only one readable. Barbara’s. It is also called the McLaughin Cemetery. And Shannon Run Colored Cemetery. And it may have another name or two. One graveyard? Or two separate graveyards? 1844... I feel chances are Barbara may not be "colored", but then again, she might be of color! My Caleb is "colored”, a Black man.

My GG Grandfather, George Bice of Wayne census records, tax records and death records, my George Bice was: 'colored', 'black', 'mulatto', and 'white'...and Oral Family History says he might be 'Native American'. Some of what I know for sure is what I don't know for sure! My George died and was buried a 'white' man. Greene County Death Records. Porter-Lantz Cemetery, Wayne Township.

Green Mount Cemetery, Waynesburg. The cemetery has a 'colored section' and most graves there are from my family tree. My direct families....many of them.

A Slave burial ground in Packer Valley...reported

The Adams Cemetery on Hargus Creek... this "Adams Family" was 'bi-racial'..Black and White.

Cale and Martha Davidson as said to be buried in Perry Township. Slaves on the run who passed thru Greene County, then returned to live here and are buried there. Proof? The report of an interested person with a family tie to whom once owned the property. Do I believe them? Yes, Greene County has so much 'not yet documented history', I listen to and take to heart everything. Even if I cannot figure it out does not mean it is not true. If I knew all about the County, there would be no need to read or research or even visit Cornerstone, located on ground once owned by my GG Grandfather Charles Samuel Hickey.

An expert I am not. I do not place myself in the category of "researchers". But I do research and read and listen and search for my family and others whose ancestors were Slaves in Greene County, PA. And I cannot find a 'black' person without a 'white' person right here too, or nearby, so I look for everything cemetery related... and more.

"Massa" a former slave said to be buried in the very southeast corner of the County. Massa could be someone I am familiar with but only additional research is needed before I can come to a conclusion.

A Slave buried at the base of a tree in the Glades Cemetery, Cumberland Township.

Slaves said to be buried in the Old Jefferson Cemetery... the Methodist Cemetery in Jefferson, PA, now a parking lot.

My GGG Grandfather and other slaves/former slaves said to be buried in the same Jefferson Cemetery as Thomas and Elizabeth Hughes...of the Thomas Hughes House / Thomas Hughes Reading Center, Jefferson, PA. My Daniel, a 'man of color', and Jane, " the Black Woman" are included in the 1823 will of Thomas Hughes. An 1807 Jefferson Twp Tax lists lists "Dan, age 4" among a Negro family and the head of that family appears to be Jane.

Cemetery records have my Daniel Ferrell buried in the Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Daniel Ferrel: d. 1-22-1851, aged 53yr 1 mo 5da. My Daniel is the only "person of color", said to have been a slave of Thomas Hughes but with no documentation to say he was ever a slave, buried in Presbyterian Cemetery by name!. But then again, Daniel was a son of Jane. Jane, yes, registered as a slave in Washington Co, (now Greene Co) PA in 1782 by said Thomas Hughes. But both Jane and Daniel are included in the 1823 will of Thomas Hughes (1749-1823). Jane would have been a slave for life, unless freed, and Daniel would have been a slave until he reached the age of 28, unless freed before that and we can find NO documentation freeing him so he remained a slave until he was 28 years of age. This dependent of whether or not said Thomas Hughes took the oath to be a Pennsylvanian and abided by Pennsylvania Law. If he did not, and remained a "Viginian", this changes things a bit! More research is required.

Newspaper article and photo with arrows pointing to the graves of slaves in the Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

I do not know where Daniel's wife Mary (Stewart) Ferrell is buried. I do not know where Jane, the Black woman, my GGGG Grandmother, is buried. Close to Daniel, her son?

I do not know where my GG Grandmother, Eleanor (Burgess) Bice, wife of George Bice, is buried. In Porter-Lantz Cemetery...perhaps in the "Colored People" section with George? That answer is not known at this time.

My G Grandmother, Sarah Catherine (Bice) Davison is buried in the Moore Burial Ground. I do not know where her husband, my George Albert Davison, is buried. Not yet!

Valley Chapel Cemetery...Grinages and more.

Slave cemeteries rumored to be near the PA/WV line...Gilmore Township.

The Burgess Family Burial Ground in Deep Valley...quite possibly my family for I am a Burgess.

Greene County Cemetery research for me will not end for others in my family will continue the search.

I did not begin the Cemetery Research of Greene County and said research will continue long after me.

Copyright 2008 Bill A. Davison