NEWPORT - This week marked the 203rd anniversary of the first interment at Newport Cemetery, which is still active today and the final resting place for many influential families and individuals from that area.
Ernie Thode, manager of Local History and Genealogy at the Washington County Public Library in Marietta, said the cemetery, also known as Newport Methodist Cemetery, is a significant part of the history of eastern Washington County.
"The cemetery is fairly large, situated in the center of Newport and there are some well-known people there, ranging from a Revolutionary War colonel to famous riverboat captains to a family of doctors that served the community for generations there," he said.
BRAD BAUER The Marietta Times
Newport Township Trustee Rodney King walks though an older section of Newport Cemetery on Wednesday. The cemetery is the final resting place for many well-known Newport families.
The approximately 15-acre cemetery, managed by Newport Township trustees, has more than 1,000 interments and has averaged about 30 interments annually over the past few years, according to Bonnie Hockenberry, township fiscal officer.
"It's one of the busier cemeteries around," Hockenberry said. "You can go up there any day and there are always people visiting graves and putting out flowers."
Thode said some of the more recognizable burials there include members of the Gale family, who moved to the area in the mid-1800s to practice medicine.
Located at the intersection of Green and Harrison streets in Newport, between Newport Methodist Church and Newport Elementary School.
The first burial in the Newport Cemetery was Nathaniel Little on Nov. 20, 1808.
The cemetery is still active, averaging about 30 burials each year.
There are approximately 300 veterans interred at the cemetery, dating back to the Revolutionary War.
The cemetery is operated and maintained by Newport Township trustees and is the largest cemetery in the township.
Source: Washington County Public Library and Newport Township trustees.
"That move led to a dynasty of doctors for the Newport area," Thode said. "There was probably a Dr. Gale in Newport for close to 150 years. We're talking about at least five generations of doctors who practiced medicine there."
George Washington Gale, born in 1799, was the pioneer of the family's medical profession, Thode said. He was born on the Potomac River in Hampshire County, now West Virginia. In 1840, Gale moved his practice to Newport and lived there until his death in 1876. At least seven of his children or direct descendants practiced medicine in the area.
Hockenberry, 61, said she was delivered at her parent's home by Dr. George Gale and later cared for by his son, Dr. Larry Gale, who continued to practice in the area until the late 1970s or early 80s.
"They were just great family doctors who cared about their community and the people in it," she said.
Thode said other prominent families buried at Newport Cemetery include members of the Greene Family, which was a riverboat family.
"Gordon C. Greene and Tom Greene were captains of the Delta Queen," Thode said. "And Gordon's widow, Mary Becker Greene, became the first-ever woman river captain. Before that, she was a hostess on the Delta Queen and a riverboat named after her husband, the Gordon C. Greene. She actually died on the Delta Queen in 1949 at the age of 81."