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The History of Greenwood Cemetery

The History of Greenwood Cemetery

Oscar Lawrence Jackson - United States Congressman

Elected as a Republican Congressman from Pennsylvania, serving two terms. (1885 to 1889) Served in the Union Army during the Civil War. Captain of Company H, Sixty-third Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. Promoted to major, lieutenant colonel then colonel. Interred at Greenwood Cemetery, New Castle, PA.

source: 1877 "History of Lawrence County" by S.W. and P.A. Durant.

I. First Death in New Castle, Pennsylvania

The following article was handwritten on September 17, 1875: The first death in New Castle, Pa. was that of a child of William McCombs, the year of 1802 or 1803. Her remains were buried in Greenwood Cemetery. The coffin was made of oak boards in the rough and fastened together with wooden pins. There were no nails in use at that time. The coffin, together with the child's body, was placed in John Williams' ox cart and conveyed to the Cemetery. The first coffin made in New Castle was made by a man whose name was Jessie Dushane.

The article hand written on Greenwood Cemetery stationery states the following: "Copy made by Brant E. Buchanan, Supt. [Superintendent] on August 1, 1991". Editor's note: The book entitled, History of Lawrence County, PA, (HLCPA) New Castle Library, R-O Hist.974.893 DUR, page 20 indicates that the child's body was "...taken to the first burying ground in the place, now adjoining the new Greenwood cemetery".

The other disparity is that HLCPA states the ox cart belonged to John Wilson and the coffin was made by Jesse Du Shane. Either way, the stories are very similar. Please note, that when the child died in 1802 or 03 the location of burial was in Mercer County. Lawrence County did not exist until March 20, 1849.

II. Greenwood Cemetery

Ezekiel Sankey was the original owner of the land that is now Greenwood Cemetery. The property owned by Ezekiel Sankey was adjoined by property of Samuel McCleary. There had been a dispute regarding the property lines but they were eventually resolved between these two gentlemen. The property in question amounted to approximately 10 acres which became the nucleus of Greenwood Cemetery.

In the early part of 1852, Ezekiel Sankey went to Harrisburg and procured a charter incorporating the Cemetery Association. The following gentlemen were the incorporators: James D. Clarke, William McClymonds, Jacob S. Quest, Joseph Kissick, and Ezekiel Sankey. The act was passed on May 3, 1852. The act authorized the purchase of land not exceeding 25 acres. With this charter Ezekiel Sankey sold the 10 acres received in the McCleary agreement and transferred the charter to James D. Clarke, William Dickson and William McClymonds. These parties immediately purchased additional land and made improvements. Mr. McClymonds superintended the work of laying out the grounds, planting the trees and shrubbery. With the 10 acres originally purchased from Ezekiel Sankey and an additional strip from the Crawford brothers plus a small triangular strip along the ravine obtained from Richard Fulkerson, the land approximated 18 acres.

James D. Clarke, one of the original incorporators, died December 2, 1854 and his brother Cyrus Clarke became administrator of the estate. After James D. Clarke's death, William McClymonds continued the business until March of 1861. William McClymonds and William Dickson were partners in the banking business. Sometime prior to March 1861 Samuel D. Clarke, David Sankey, Joseph Douthett and Cyrus Clarke associated themselves together and purchased the interest from the heirs of James D. Clarke. William McClymonds and William Dickson eventually sold their interest to David Sankey. The new Association now possessed the entire property. Fearing that the new Association could not properly or legally organize to do business under the old charter David Sankey went to Harrisburg to create a new incorporation or reenact the old one. The new charter was dated May 1, 1861. Under the new organization, David Sankey was appointed president, Joseph Douthett secretary and Cyrus Clarke Treasurer. Mr. Sankey continued to fill the office of president until September of 1875. It was at this time that Mr. David Sankey sold his interest to Mr. Cyrus Clarke and the entire property was transferred to C. B. Lower and W. T. Dougherty. Mr. Lower became president and Mr. Dougherty, secretary and treasurer. Mr. R. W. Sankey, son of David Sankey was superintendent for the greater part of the time up to the transfer of the stock in 1875.

Greenwood Cemetery, in 2012, is approximately 46 acres.
III. Fire

There have been numerous stories of a fire that destroyed the early records of Greenwood Cemetery. The fire occurred in August of 1875 which destroyed all known records such as burial records, death certificates, maps and other information related to interments.

For further investigation of early headstones and monuments please refer to a book entitled "GREENWOOD CEMETERY INSCRIPTIONS". compiled by Jane SANTINI, Margaret SICA & Beverly ZONA. This book may be viewed at the New Castle Public Library or the Lawrence County Historical Society.
IV. Renovation of 1905

The title of the article is LOVELY GREENWOOD BEING BEAUTIFIED. This article appeared in the New Castle News Tuesday, May 23, 1905. The article continues, "the last home of the cities honored dead is being vastly improved in appearance. Greenwood Cemetery, the last silent resting place of many of the honored dead of the city is being so greatly improved in appearances that those who visit it on Memorial Day for the first time since last summer will scarcely recognize it. So much has been accomplished and the lot owners owe much to their representatives who have labored without compensation toward that laudable end, other than the desire to restore Greenwood to its pristine beauty".

After three years of neglect, scores of trees which were not of healthy growth and which were becoming unsightly had been removed. The driveways had been graded, rolled and brick gutters laid to carry away the surface water. The entrance way and handsome uncut stone columns erected and provided a dignified entrance to the cemetery. The Lodge was improved by adding a veranda and the tangle of underbrush toward the rear of the Lodge had been removed. In addition, that summer a new substantial bridge was constructed across the ravine dividing the western part of Greenwood into two parts and the driveways leading to that area were extended.

It was noted that the cemetery is the last earthly home of more than 400 soldiers, many early pioneers and prominent residents of the city. It was further stressed that it would be a disgrace for the community to permit Greenwood Cemetery to be forgotten.

Several times in the article it is stressed that in order to keep Greenwood Cemetery in a pristine condition, the cemetery would need cooperation, labor and financial assistance from the community.

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