History honored at Paris Cemetery

To the Editor,

History is being honored in what nearly became a forgotten and neglected cemetery in the small village of Paris, Hanover Township, Washington County, Pa. The original burial grounds that began in 1807, was later granted a charter in 1881 by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The original grounds laid directly on the Pennsylvania and Virginia border until West Virginia received statehood in 1863 and the properties were determined to be in Pennsylvania. The original grounds are the resting place of soldiers of the Revolutionary, Civil, Spanish American, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Persian Gulf, Desert Storm, and those who serviced in peacetime.

Unfortunately, the operations of the cemetery began to fall by the wayside up through 2013, due to the lack of perpetual funds and authorized direction. Appeals to state and local government showed no source of policy nor direction for the solution to the problems that were occurring with forgotten cemeteries across the county.

A struggling small group of volunteers finally came together effectively in January 2017 and is moving forward with donated equipment for lawn care, small gifts, charity donations, hours of volunteer labor and services, along with memorial remembrances of more recent interments.

Historical records of 1883 revealed the intent for a Veterans Memorial to honor “All Veterans of All Wars,” but the good intentions never came to fruition, thus the Paris Cemetery Company Board is moving forward with Phase 1 of the project in time for Memorial Day 2018. The Memorial Day tribute will be paid with an early morning salute by the Slovan, Pa. VFW, Barto Post 6553 on Monday, May 28 at 7:45 a.m. A dedication of the Flag Memorial is planned for Flag Day, June 14, 2018.

The Board is appealing to the interest of families and ancestors of loved ones interred, as well as community friends, businesses, Veterans, historians, and all who might share pride in being a part of this project. We are encouraging local artists to render their ideas for continued phases of the Flag Memorial.

The Paris Cemetery Company was reorganized under the original charter of 1881 as a non-profit company and will now continue to offer traditional and cremation burial lots. Board President Ralph Speer has indicated an additional 500 lots available throughout the 17 acres.

Looking ahead, the Board hopes to encourage planting days on forgotten early graves prior to Memorial Day.

Serving on the Paris Cemetery Board and Outreach Committee are Ralph Speer, Joan Weaver, Mildred Green, Elaine Ferrari, Patty Rhoades, Edwin Kirk, Jana Speer, Mona Leach, Steve Psaros and Harry Brown.

Monetary giving can be directed to: Paris Cemetery Company, Mailed to: First Choice America FCU, 3501 Main Street, Weirton, WV 26062

For additional information or history story letter, call Ralph Speer at (724) 899-3543 or Patty Rhoades at (724) 729-3657

In community service,

Patty Rhoades

Paris, Pa.