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Arnold Hill Cemetery Index

History of Arnold Hill Cemetery
Randolph County, West Virginia

'Show me your cemeteries and I will tell you what kind of people you are.'

This cemetery, four miles from Beverly, is called the Baptist, (The Primitive Baptist) the Collett, and the Arnold Hill, all of which describe it.  Directly across from Arnold Hill Station to the east, across the field at the foot of the hill, the old church used to stand.  Founded in 1806, it was the first in the county, and was known as the Old School Baptist Church.

On August 2, 1806, at the home of Jacob Kittle, the meeting of ten members was called.  They were Jacob Kittle, Daniel Canfield, William Hixon, John Chenoweth, Mary Kittle, Mary Holder, Elizabeth Moore, Mary Sconover, Margaret Sconover and Deborah Hart, all pioneers.

They held their meetings at the homes of members until 1818 when it was decided to build a church. Henry Petro and his wife deeded them an acre of land and the log building was erected.  Maxwell's  "History of Randolph County" (page 313) describes it along with a picture.  During the Civil War the building was used as shelter by the soldiers. After that it was repaired and used until 1872, when it was past repairing and it was decided to build a new one, located on Chenoweth's Creek at Midland.  The land was donated by Thomas Chenoweth and his wife, Florida. This building has stood over 60 years and was in use in 1935.

The first minister (called Elder, as all their preachers were) was Phineas Wells, a Revolutionary sodier. The second was Nathan Everett, and the third was Thomas Collett. All these men were residents in the vicinity. Thomas Collett's father was a Revolutionary soldier.Thomas Collett joined the church March 28, 1811 and served 37 years as moderator and minister until his death in 1872.
Wit the exceptions of the tombstone inscriptions an accurate account of this church, by Mrs E.E. Workman, has been published in the Randolph County Historical Society Magazine (1936). The first minute book of 1806 is still in excellent condition.

As for the cemetery, time is doing its share in making the inscriptions hard to read and the coming years will obliterate many. Those of field stone are already blank, while some of the graves have never been marked. This was so in the case of the wife of Jacob Wees, 1733-1826, the Church Record proving she died in 1842, aged 90. Jacob Wees fought in the Indian War. The wife of George Wees was a daughter of a soldier of the Revolution.  


ARNOLD HILL CEMETERY ASSOCIATION SEEKS FUNDS
by Beth Guye Kittle and Bill Rice

Unbeknownst to most of the nearby passersby, an historic cemetery lies adjacent to the Southwest side of the Elkins-Randolph County Airport. {Jennings-Randolph Field, alternate name}

Known today as the Arnold Hill Cemetery, it was named after a 20th century train station that was located a few hundred yards away near a small hill on which once lived the family of Thomas Jackson Arnold and wife Eugenia Hill.  During the l9th century it was more formally known as the Primitive Baptist Cemetery.  According to a deed in the Randolph County Courthouse, the l.05 acre lot on which the cemetery is located was purchased on September 28, 1818 from Henry and Elizabeth Petro by Jacob Kittle, John I. Chenoweth, George Weese and Thomas Collett, Jr., "deacons of the Regular Baptist church known by the name of the Valley Church" for the sum of $40.00. 

Jacob Kittle (born 26 July l757-died 6 January 1844), one of the founders of the church in l806, also served as the first Clerk of the church.  The site for the church's meeting house, which according to the 1818 deed had already been constructed, may have been selected because what is thought to be an Indian mound is near the center of the lot.  Use of the Meeting House by the church was discontinued in l872 when the church moved to a location on Chenoweth Creek Road.  The ruins of the building could still be seen on the north end of the lot in the mid-l900s. 

While early burials were mostly church members, after l872 many people without connections to the church were buried in Arnold Hill.  Even though the cemetery is today somewhat isolated, prior to the construction of the Beverly to Fairmont Turnpike in l843 it was adjacent to the east side of the main road through that part of the Tygart Valley.

There is evidence of about 200 burials in the cemetery but documentation has only been found for about l50 of them.  The first two documented burials are Moses Kittle (l79l-l9 March l825) and Christina Triplett (l783-l6 February l826), children of church founder, Jacob Kittle, both of whom have marked graves.  Based on the membership and death records maintained by the church, as well as other documentation, there is very little likelihood of any earlier burials.

Church member Abraham Kittle, Jr. died in 1814 and he has a marked grave in the Kittle family cemetery at Sullivan's Crossing.  Bronze markers for Michael Wees who died in 1813 and Abraham Kittle, Sr., who died in 1816, were placed in the cemetery during the latter part of the 20th century, but neither were members of the church and both died prior to the church having bought the property.

Michael Wees is more likely buried on land he owned on the Cheat River, and Abraham Kittle, Sr. is most likely buried in his family cemetery at Sullivan's Crossing.  Both Abraham Kittle, Sr. and his son, church founder Jacob Kittle, fought in the Revolutionary War.

Like many other older cemeteries, Arnold Hill has over the past 40 years experienced several periods of neglect.  Though never completely abandoned, since the north end of the cemetery has been continually maintained by neighbors and relations with burials as recent as l983, the rest of the cemetery had literally become a jungle by the spring of l98l when the now defunct
Randolph County Genealogical Society spearheaded an effort to clean it up.  Monetary contributions were made by Randy Allen, Virgil Hart and Mary Genevieve Ward, but with limited funds and a general lack of interest the project was abandoned the following year.

In l992 the clean-up of Arnold Hill Cemetery began again primarily due to the efforts of the late Geraldine Kittle and several members of the Kittle Family Reunion of Belington in Barbour County.  $726.00 was raised over a two-year period and included contributions from Albert Summerfield, Virginia Mastroguiseppe, Vivian Willis, Betty Blakemore, Edith Phipps, Barbara W. Harvey, Mary Ryan and Lester Arbogast.  But the funds were depleted by the fall of l995, and once again the cemetery fell into a state of neglect.

But then in October 200l, Jeanne Russell of Lebanon, PA and her daughter, Marcia Updike, descendants of church founder and Revolutionary War veteran Jacob Kittle who is buried in the cemetery, visited the site and discovered that most of the cemetery was sadly being neglected.  Jeanne descends from Jacob Kittle through his son Benjamin who was born in l794.  Jeanne's grandmother was Lucy Kittle, daughter of Squire Kittle and Marcella Shifflet.  Squire Kittle was the son of Benjamin Kittle.  Lucy Kittle married Holt Swecker.

Later in the fall of 200l, Eldon and Alan Haught, also Kittle descendants, cleared the brush and small trees from the cemetery.  Alan's inspiring letter to the editor of the INTER-MOUNTAIN about the condition of the cemetery was published in December of 200l.  Jeanne Russell, who first learned about the cemetery in l987 from Katharine Hart Frame's book, THE HARTS OF RANDOLPH, returned home to Pennsylvania and began a fund-raising effort that in 2002 generated $2,335.00 toward the maintenance of the cemetery.  After paying for two lawn mowers and the cost of their operation, a year-end balance of $l,963.00 remains in the Arnold Hill Cemetery account at the Davis Trust Company in Elkins.  All labor for 2002 was donated by Bill Rice, and before and after pictures of the cemetery reflect a vast improvement.

Jeanne is continuing her efforts via letters and E-mail with a goal of providing perpetual care for Arnold Hill Cemetery.  Contacting descendants of those buried in the cemetery is an arduous task, of course, and any names and addresses of those persons would be welcomed by the writers of this article as well as by Jeanne Russell.  Jeanne writes that "Benjamin Franklin once said 'Show me your cemeteries and I will tell you what kind of people you are.' "  Although she is pleased with the response thus far and is planning a re-dedication of the cemetery this summer, all persons interested are invited to send contributions or letters of interest to:

Jeanne Russell, l002 Smith Avenue, Lebanon, PA l7042 (email Jeanne)
or Bill Rice, P. O. Box 303, Elkins, WV 2624l. 

Any checks should be made out to: Arnold Hill Cemetery Association.
A list of donors can be obtained from Jeanne Russell or Bill Rice, and a list of those buried in the cemetery has also been prepared by Bill Rice.