Paris Cemetery efforts continue

PARIS, Pa. – A citizens committee is moving forward on the reorganization of the Paris Cemetery, and anyone with family interred in the cemetery or an interest in local history are invited to participate.

At a recent committee meeting, members discuss finding the descendants of the original Paris Cemetery Association Board members and those who granted the original cemetery deeds.

Members also noted the cemetery holds the graves of veterans from nearly every American conflict, including the Revolutionary War, Mexican-American War, Civil War and Spanish-American War, until present day, including the Persian Gulf War.

The cemetery also is final resting place for Medal of Honor recipient and Civil War veteran Uriah H. Brown.

Brown was a member of the 30th Ohio Infantry Co. G, out of Columbus, Ohio, during the Civil War. During the May 22, 1963, assault on Vicksburg, Miss., Brown volunteered to carry siege materials over heavily fortified ground, under enemy fire, and attempt to build a bridge over a deep ditch and set a ladder against the fort’s walls. The expectation of casualties was so high only unmarried men were allowed to volunteer for the “forlorn hope.” Brown was wounded but survived and managed to carry five other wounded men to safety.

Several area veterans recently placed a wreath on Brown’s grave in observation of Veteran’s Day Monday. They included Darrell and Duwayne Caldwell, the great-great grandsons of Samuel Caldwell, another Civil War Veteran who served in the 85th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and is buried in the cemetery. Milton Fabianich, a World War II veteran, also attended the wreath-placing ceremony. Fabianich is an American Legion Post 10 of Weirton member and the last living member of the Last Man’s Club, established in 1956 with 92 members.

Other area veterans consulted about how best to honor Brown include Dallas Perkins of Paris, a Korean War veteran; Mark Fiber of Weirton, an Afghanistan War veteran; and Tom Lyke of Colliers, a Korean War veteran and prisoner of war. Lyke has 11 members of his family buried adjacent to Brown’s grave, including his uncle, Thomas A. Lyke, a World War II veteran, and John Gardner, a World War I veteran.

Citizens committee members discussed contacting the Veterans Administration to inquire whether that agency would offer any aid.

Burials in the cemetery date back to the 1820s, and headstones are inscribed in Chinese, Greek, Czech, Slavic, German and Arabic, in addition to English. There is an early “Baby Land,” where children who died during an influenza epidemic.

Residents became concerned about the upkeep of the cemetery after volunteer care-taker Leslie Grossmann of Paris said funds to provide every day maintenance were nearly depleted.

The cemetery association, which oversaw the cemetery’s operation and care, literally died out with member Tom Vincineti. However, a perpetual care fund was never established. The citizens committee is exploring options for the cemetery, including the reformation of the cemetery association. Other options have included turning the cemetery over to a local church or other interested group or signing a lease with a natural gas company to provide the necessary income to care for the cemetery. The group also hopes to preserve the history of the cemetery with the assistance of local historians.

However, the group has a lot of legal issues to address, including figuring out to whom the property is deeded, who owns the mineral rights associated with the property and what steps are necessary for re-forming the association.

There are four separate deeds for the 19 and one-half acres making up the cemetery and a title search may prove difficult, as the area was claimed by Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.