MASONTOWN — The 133-year-old Masontown Cemetery needs help.
The cemetery, which fronts W.Va. 7 in the western Preston County town, is selling fewer lots and collecting less interest on its accounts. Expenses, meanwhile, remain.
The major expense is mowing, which costs $550 each time the graveyard is mowed, 10 times annually. If someone thinks that’s too much, said caretaker Donna Montgomery, they should do it sometime.
“We definitely do not want to quit mowing the grass in the cemetery, so we need to find a new source of income,” the association said in letters that went out to families of those buried at the cemetery.
They are asking families to consider a donation to the nonprofit cemetery.
Association Vice President James Brown said Masontown is much different than when he grew up in the town. As the town got smaller and less vibrant, fewer graves have been sold.
More people are opting for cremation, Montgomery and Brown said, rather than buying lots. And years ago many families bought multiple lots — 12 seemed to be a popular number — and have not used them all, so they aren’t buying more. Fewer burials mean less money collected for opening and closing graves too.
Lots remain for sale. There are nine sections to the cemetery. One section hasn’t been surveyed off as lots yet and is brush hogged, rather than mowed. Lots sell for $500 or three for $1,300. Lots along W.Va. 7 are $700 each.
Neither official knew the exact acreage of the cemetery, but, “If all the spots were filled, we have room for 5,000 graves,” Montgomery said.
She estimated about 3,000 are buried there now.
In the older sections, “there’s a lot of Cobuns up there. They were very prominent in the town.” One of the brick store buildings in town was built by the Cobuns, she noted.
Hartley and Post are also common in the older sections of the graveyard. “There was a Dr. Post here at one time,” Montgomery recalled.
In addition to seeking donations, Brown and his mother have donated a pineapple quilt, which was quilted with a long-arm quilting machine. Chances are $1 each or six for $5 and can be bought at Masontown Water Works, Street’s Store office, Belldina’s Pharmacy or by calling Montgomery or Brown.
The winning chance will be drawn Sept. 3.
“No one has given donations for quite some time,” Brown noted.
As it says in the letter, “The future of the Masontown Cemetery is in your hands.”
To donate to the Masontown Cemetery Association: P.O. Box 411, Masontown, WV 26542. Chances on the quilt are $1 each or six for $5 at Belldina’s Pharmacy, Masontown Water Works, Street’s Store office, or call 304-599-5264 or 304-641-7411.