Just off W.Va. 14 in Boaz lies the remains of people who personally knew historic figures like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Aaron Burr, and at least one who testified at Burr's trial for treason in the early 1800s.
The Henderson Family Cemetery is the final resting place for members of the Henderson and Tomlinson clans that played a key role in the early settlement of Marietta and Williamstown.
The cemetery is surrounded by a wrought iron fence and sits on a knoll across the main highway from historic Henderson Hall in Boaz.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Dave McKain, director of the Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg, stands amid some of the gravestones in the historic Henderson Family Cemetery along W.Va. 14 (Williams Highway) in Boaz Wednesday afternoon.
In 1957, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated some 65 acres of the land surrounding Henderson Hall, including the Henderson Family Cemetery, as Henderson Hall Historic District, and placed it on the National Register of Historic Places.
"It's an extremely historic cemetery, probably established around 1820, which pre-dates the building of the Henderson Hall mansion that was completed by G.W. (George Washington) Henderson in 1859," said Dave McKain, director of the Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg.
"The cemetery contains about 50 or 60 graves of the Henderson and Tomlinson families," he said. "And the oldest gravestone dates around 1830."
At a glance
Henderson Hall Plantation is located at 517 Old River Road in Boaz, off W.Va. Route 14, about two miles south of Williamstown.
The Henderson Family Cemetery is located on the plantation property, across W.Va. 14, behind Henderson Hall.
Public tours of the plantation are available from noon to 5 p.m. daily. Private and group tours can also be scheduled by calling ahead.
For more information, call 304-375-2129, or 304-485-5446.
That stone is in memory of Alexander Henderson, who died in 1833. It was Alexander whose testimony at Burr's treason trial was recorded by Thomas Carpenter and published in 1807.
Also buried in the graveyard is Joseph Tomlinson III, whose grandfather's cornfields on the Virginia side of the Ohio helped feed the first settlers in what eventually became the city of Marietta.
McKain said the Tomlinson family was the first to settle in the area in the 1770s, and the Hendersons followed in 1799.
The families were joined when G.W. Henderson married Elizabeth Tomlinson in the mid-1800s.
"The Tomlinsons were originally from the Moundsville (W.Va.) area and were here about the same time George Washington came through the Ohio Valley," he said. "But they would already have had tomahawk rights on property in the Williamstown area before Washington was here."
Tomahawk rights refers to the practice on the early frontier of making tomahawk or hatchet marks on trees to designate property claims. To this day many property deeds in the Mid-Ohio Valley can be traced back to the orgininal tomahawk rights.
McKain was a lifelong friend of the late Michael Rolston, the last of the Henderson clan to own the Henderson Hall Plantation on which the graveyard is located.
Rolston died in late 2007 and is the latest Henderson relative to be buried at the cemetery. He bequeathed the Henderson property to the Oil, Gas and Industrial Historic Association.
The Henderson Family Cemetery is open to the public and is included with tours of Henderson Hall, which is located along Old River Road in Boaz.
McKain said a sign will eventually be erected to mark the site, but plans for upgrades there were set back recently when a huge oak tree fell into the graveyard and destroyed a portion of the wrought iron fence.