West Virginia

Local man seeks community's help in maintaining Martinsburg cemetery

The black cemetery lies right beyond the gates of Green Hill Cemetery

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Martinsburg graveyard that holds centuries of lost memories is in need of a new keeper, and one man's call for help is stronger now than ever before.

Just beyond the gates of Green Hill Cemetery in Martinsburg lies what some local historians refer to as the "forgotten black cemetery."

"The 'black cemetery' is part of the Green Hill Cemetery, which Green Hill was a white-only cemetery founded in 1854. So, one corner, the Northeast corner, was dedicated as the colored cemetery," said President, Berkeley County Historical Society, Todd Funkhouser.

Scattered headstones with names that 64 year-old Peter Miller has kept alive for the past 50-some years.

"That historic lane was full of junk, [and] a week later, I'd clean it out, and [there would] be new stuff here," said Miller.

After taking care of the cemetery for years, Miller said it's now time to pass the responsibility onto someone else.

Miller stumbled upon it back in the 1960s, and since then, he has cleaned up trash, picked weeds and completed general ground maintenance.

He said after many long years of taking care of the property, he is looking for another group to help out.

"So, I'm trying to set up a permanent committee to set up to cemetery to coordinate having volunteers come in and clean it up and so on," said Miller.

So far, no committee has been started; but, not all hope is lost.

"There is an organized movement with the NAACP and Ian Henderson to put the cemetery under an umbrella with the other couple in the community of Martinsburg to adopt them and make sure they're preserved and cared for," said Funkhouser.

A local historical society said they have confirmed 39 people are buried at the cemetery.

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