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We've Finally Found Her!

By Charlie O'Haver

(NOTE: This story is re-printed from
The Aronhalt Family History
Newsletter
, June 1998.)

It's been a long search, but we've finally found her! For many years family members have tried to locate the grave of Lydia (Aronhalt) O'Haver, but with no success. The last of her children, Ida Jane (O'Haver) King died in 1968, and she may well have been the last person with any recollection as to where her mother was laid to rest.

For some reason, my dad, Ted O'Haver, a grandson of Lydia seemed to think she was buried at Frankville, a once-thriving community in eastern Garrett County, Maryland. Frankville is located between Swanton and Bloomington along the B&O Railroad. His reasoning may have been due to the fact that his grandfather John William O'Haver, who divorced Lydia in the late 1870s, later re-married and moved to the Dry Run area near there. But our search in the Frankville Cemetery was fruitless.

Another granddaughter, Thelma (O'Haver) Glotfelty said she could remember "Pop" -- her father -- telling her mother, "Mom died, I'll have to go". Thelma recalled Grandma helping Pop get ready to make the journey for his mother's funeral. Thelma also said she thought Pop went to Gormania, West Virginia -- a trip he apparently made on foot -- which is approximately 20 miles from where he lived at the time. That was, of course in March, 1914.

Although Lydia's birth and death dates were written down and passed along through the years, the name of the cemetery and/or its physical location were not. In researching census records, I learned that Lydia and all of her children were living in Grant County, West Virginia in 1880 on the farm of her brother-in-law Joseph A. O'Haver. I have not been able to locate a death record for Lydia in either Garrett County, Maryland, or neighboring Mineral County, West Virginia. So further research is necessary on that matter.

We've combed the major cemeteries as well as a number of small private family cemeteries. However, there are a couple of Aronhalt family cemeteries yet to be checked out. Of course, in the search, I hoped to also come across the graves of Lydia's oldest son -- John W. Gaver O'Haver -- and her brother-in-law Joseph A. O'Haver. According to John W. Gaver O'Haver's obituary in 1930, his funeral service was conducted at the Parsons, West Virginia Baptist Church, with the remains being taken to Bayard, West Virginia for burial. To date, we have not located his grave or that of his wife. And the search for the grave of Joseph A. continues as well.

On Friday, June 5, 1998, "Sonny" O'Haver, (also a great-grandson of John William O'Haver, but by his second marriage) and I decided to check out a couple of leads. . . one of which was a long-abandoned cemetery that Sonny had remembered seeing in the woods as a child. It was a gloomy, rainy day, but for a chance of getting lucky enough to explore a different -- and especially an old cemetery seemed to make the weather more tolerable. And hopefully, the rattlesnakes would be less active, too!

Heading south from Gormania, West Virginia, Sonny directed me to a driveway between two dwellings. And what at first seemed promising as a road up the hillside soon proved to be anything but! So from here on it's footwork. It really wasn't such a terrible climb, but for me with diabetic feet, and having had foot surgery twice in the past couple of years, it proved to be a little harder. Thank goodness for Sonny and his youthfulness -- he trodded ahead tramping down briars and pushing back branches as we made our way upward. Of course we weren't sure where we were going -- just what we hoped to find. Then a glance to our right and there sticking out of an overgrowth of ferns, and being brushed by an overhead tree branch were two tall, thin-like tombstones. We knew we'd found a cemetery. As we approached we saw a few more small stones -- most of which had given up identity to years of weather.

I began making notes as Sonny cleared the way to each stone and scraped away moss to see what -- if anything could still be read. When Sonny excitedly said, "Here it is!".... I didn't think about clearing a path. I was sure he'd found Gaver! What Sonny had found when he moved years of overgrowth was the toppled stone bearing the words: Mother, Lydia O'Haver, Born Dec. 5, 1834; Died Mar. 28, 1914; 79 years, 3 months, 23 days; "At Rest".

The initial excitement of finding the grave we had searched for for so long eventually gave way to reality -- a realization that this lady's final resting place -- as well as all of the other graves in the cemetery had been neglected and forgotten. Lydia's grave as well as some others had settled a great deal through the years, and like hers, several other stones have toppled. However, none appear to be broken.

As we continued to check out the other graves, we found that of Delia A. King, Lydia's 11-month-old grand-daughter who died in 1909, and she is buried nearby. That was another name that hadn't passed down through family records. I had only learned of her recently when Sonny found her birth noted in some old records from the Gormania Methodist Church. He is the historian for the church and has been compiling a history of the churches in the Gormania charge.

My next immediate concern was to return as soon as possible and clean up the cemetery, re-set the stones and fill in sunken graves as needed. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to get back home to call my sisters to tell them about the find. I didn't even have to ask for help on the clean-up job -- they're ready to roll up their sleeves! I'll have an update on the clean-up in the next newsletter.

I've since learned that the hill on which the cemetery lies is now owned by Buffalo Coal Company.

ABOUT LYDIA'S ANCESTORS...

During the past few months, I've been compiling pages upon pages of information about Aronhalt families in Grant and Mineral Counties in West Virginia, and Garrett and Allegany Counties in Maryland, simply to learn where Lydia tied in. And although I had suspicions about knowing of possible brothers who followed similar patterns in naming their offspring, I just had no substantial connections. But when I returned home the very evening of the fantastic graveyard find, my niece Sarah (Paugh) Vaughn called from Frederick, Maryland to tell me she had made contact with a lady via the internet who is doing some research on her line down through the Aronhalt family. And what a contact it was! She verified that her great, great grandfather and Lydia were brother and sister, along with several siblings which we had suspected but weren't quite sure of.

Without a doubt, Friday, June 5, 1998 was a fruitful one for me in our family research. Of course, the story is not complete. Although finding Lydia was extremely important to me, there are plenty more ancestors who need to be located -- and our work goes on!

For this writer, trying to explain the feeling when looking at my great-grandmother's resting place is impossible. It's certainly not a new thing. But I guess realizing that I'm a product of her flesh and blood -- a woman who finished her life here more than three decades before I was born -- makes me want to see that her resting place is known, and that her grave didn't become totally neglected and forgotten after a couple of generations have come and gone. So many are neglected and forgotten -- many without a trace. . .But now we can see that "our" Lydia's final resting place is documented for those interested record-keepers in future generations.

THE SEARCH CONTINUES for Lydia's brother-in-law Joseph A. O'Haver as well as for her son John W. Gaver O'Haver and his wife Sarah Eliza (Blackburn) O'Haver. Their son Robert O'Haver and his family lived in Hambleton, West Virginia during the 1930s.

NEXT... An update on the cemetery clean-up project!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lydia V. (Aronhalt)
O'Haver

LYDIA V. (ARONHALT) O'HAVER... I feel this photograph was taken
about 1860 when Lydia would have been in her mid-twenties.
I have attempted to computer-enhance the photograph
which has greatly deteriorated with age. The original
picture has suffered water damage and cracking.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The upper portion of the monument marking Lydia's grave
probably toppled many years ago.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sonny O'Haver and Charlie O'Haver pictured with the monument
that had toppled into the sunken grave.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This portion of the monument will be placed back
on its base which is seen in the background.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Cemetery Clean-Up

NOTE: The following information is an exerpt from The Aronhalt Family Newsletter
which tells about our initial clean-up of the old Tannery Cemetery
located on Hoffman Hill at Gormania, West Virginia...
Body

I was more than just a little excited about finding the location of the grave of great grandmother Lydia V. (Aronhalt) O'Haver. The search has been on for decades, and when Sonny O'Haver and I found her grave in a long-abandoned over-grown cemetery at Gormania, West Virginia, I realized that all the time and effort spent on countless hours of genealogy were not in vain.

We were very fortunate to find that her tombstone has weathered very well and the engraving is quite legible. Like a couple of other stones in the cemetery, Lydia's has toppled over from ground changes through the years, but that can be remedied.

After recovering from the initial excitement, Sonny made his way through briars and brush to look for other graves as I gathered information from the few stones which are still readable. At first Sonny located 22 graves, but that number kept increasing as closer inspection revealed more sunken areas in definite patterns, and some marked with field stones at head and foot. We immediately made plans to return and clean up the cemetery.


Monuments start appearing as we
clear away fallen limbs and brush.

In the meantime Sonny did some further investigating about others buried there. Although we haven't yet found an official name, a couple of area residents have noted that they heard that they have "kin" in the "Old Gormania Cemetery" and/or "Tannery Road Cemetery".

Carrie (O'Haver) Martin and Sonny O'Haver pull away briars
that hide a large stone.

Alvin "Buddy" O'Haver, Jim Martin, and Roy Michael
take a breather from the weed-eaters and clippers.

We soon made another trek back up the mountainside with four other relatives and friends to begin the clean-up project. Armed with weed-eaters, rakes, shovels, and clippers -- not to mention gloves, band-aids, insect repellent AND snake-bite medicine -- which fortunately we didn't need -- we spent several hours clearing away the overgrowth. Sonny has catalogued 33 graves to date, although most are without markers, or aren't readable. One Gormanian recalls being to the cemetery some fifty years ago and remembers that a lot of graves were only marked with wooden crosses. Of course we found no trace of those. Most of the fence posts still mark the cemetery boundaries, but very little fencing remains. Most has rusted away.


After a few hours, things are looking a whole lot nicer.

We're planning a return trip to do further cleaning, and with block and tackle and lots of muscle power, we'll re-set and level the toppled stones. And by the way, when the word got out about our cemetery clean-up project, a thoughtful Gormania resident sent a $20.00 donation to help purchase necessary supplies. And we truly appreciate the gesture.


Time to call it a day, and
admire the work that has been done so far.

(UPDATE NOTE: The above articles mention the search for the graves of Lydia's son John W. Gaver O'Haver and his wife Sarah. In May 2000, Sonny and I visited their granddaughter Helen Roy who still lives in Grant County, WV, and she told us that they are buried in the Bayard Cemetery. They are next to their daughter who died early in the last century. There are marble slab markers for both John and Sarah, but without any engraving. Interestingly, Helen said her grandfather's middle name was Gabriel instead of Gaver -- as it appeared in his 1930 obituary and in my dad's family history notes. It appears as Gabriel in the family Bible as well which is in her possession. My aunt Helen (O'Haver) King also told me recently that her dad -- John's younger brother -- always called him "Gabe". More information about the couple is included in my O'Haver family research in a website now under construction. A link to that site will soon be available from this page.)

If anyone has any information about the Tannery Cemetery on Hoffman Hill at Gormania, WV, or knows anything about anyone buried there, please email me at charlieo4@myfam.com or write me at Charlie O'Haver, 230 Vine Street, Westernport, MD 21562. Thanks!



Continuing Links...

ARONHALT FAMILY... Where Do I Fit In?
Introduction....
The ARONHALT FAMILY HISTORY (Coming Soon)
...My ongoing research notes about the Aronhalt lineage

More Interesting Links...

Gormania, West Virginia
....many rare early photos and interesting commentary
History of Mount Storm Community
....early history of the West Virginia town by D.W. Idleman