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Stealey Cemetery Seeks Funding

By Leann Cochran - Staff Writer | Sep 2, 2020

Many Tyler County residents are familiar with the Stealey Cemetery that lies near the old high school in Middlebourne. Often forgotten, however, is the significance of the history the cemetery holds in this little town. Tyler County resident Eli Henthorn has set up a maintence fund for the upkeep of the final resting place of many of the town’s founding members.

“The Stealey Cemetery was established by Middlebourne’s town founder Robert Gorrell. His cabin is said to have sat somewhere in the vicinity of where the old Board Office (Billingsley / Stealey house) once stood. The story goes that one day he was walking back of the cabin in his old age, and seeing that the Middle Island was visible from the spot, and deciding he wanted to be buried there, he stuck his cane in the ground right at the very spot where his headstone now stands,” Henthorn said.

“It is home to some of the oldest graves in the county, and some of the most reputable, including Israel T. Nicklin, who in 1838 invented the telegraph on upper Main Street. James Burns, an Irish-born engineer turned Tyler County farmer, rests on the southern side of the cemetery nearest the creek. Coming to America in 1829, he helped build the first railroad bridge in the United States in that same year. After that he worked a number of notable places, including Washington D.C. during the Andrew Jackson presidency. He helped with the “treasury and patent office edifice“, and also putting down flagstone at the White House, seeing the President quite frequently,” continued Henthorn.

“Also interred here is David Hickman, among the most notable of Middlebourne residents in the mid to late 1800’s, having a commodious mansion on East Street with large farm sprawling behind, including what is now Becky Lane,” reports Henthorn.

However, the cemetery is in need of help from the community in order to continue the maintenece.

“The cemetery, however, has fallen on hard times. Due to a donation we have been able to keep the cemetery mowed for the past year and a half, but we have run out of funds and are in need of donations if the maintenance is to continue. If anyone would like to make a donation to this significant bit of Middlebourne history, there is a Stealey Cemetery account at Union Bank. Contact Eli Henthorn at ejhenthorn@frontier.com with any questions.”