Historic Cemetery Organization dedicates monuments at Eusebia
By Ronda Wertman
ELK GARDEN - “We build monuments, we don’t tear them down,” said Cumberland Historic Cemetery Organization (CHCO) president Edward Taylor Jr. as three new monuments were dedicated at the historic Eusebia Cemetery.
“It’s important that we bring young people to events like these so they can learn true American history,” Taylor said as three generations of the Rinehart family were remembered.
The CHCO has 974 monuments from Pennsylvania to Florida, which are all protected and bear their seal, but the majority are in Allegany and Mineral counties.
Taylor explained to family and friends that monuments are works of art. “A lot of folks don’t seem to pay attention to cemeteries. We’re seeing more and more monuments desecrated,” he added.
Eusebia Church marked 200 years last year and trustee Bill Kuykendall shared its history recently, which began with the construction of the church in 1819.
An active congregation worshipped in the one-room log structure and it served as a barracks and hospital for both sides during the Civil War.
The current structure was patterned after the original church, when it was constructed in 1891 at the cost of $900.
The Eusebia Presbyterian Church served the local community from 1819 to 1947.
George Rinehart was one of the first trustees of the church and Kuykendall explained that over the years the family was interwoven in the history of the church.
“History does matter. The trustees of the Eusebia Foundation are working to preserve that,” Kuykendall concluded.
Along with the Rinehart descendants, members of the Sons of the Confederacy McNeill’s Rangers were on hand in uniform as they lined the fence, weapons in hand in honor of the fallen.
“I’m pleased to be here with my men,” said David Judy, noting that they are one of the largest organizations doing re-enactments of various aspects of the War Between the States.
“We’re not just confederate soldiers, most of us have federal relatives,” he said, joking that many are SOBs - sons of both.
“It killed generations. It changed the time,” he said of the war.
Judy noted that a similar fight continues today saying, “We need to support our constitution.”
Sharing history with future generations, members of McNeill’s are as young as six and are being raised to believe in God first, then country.
“We pledge to that flag,” he said of the American flag at the entrance to the cemetery. The group also carries the Dixie flag and Battle flag. “People are surprised to see confederate soldiers carry the U.S. flag,” he added.
In the late 1950s confederate soldiers were made equal with all American soldiers. “They worked, they gave of their values so this country would live,” Judy said.
“Our goal is to erect these monuments permanently. They should be here till the end of time,” Taylor said.
“This is a celebration of us, a celebration of a community,” said James Rinehart, noting that this was the first family reunion since 1936.
Judy unveiled the stone on the grave of Enoch Rinehart, who served in Company F 7th Virginia Cavalry C.S.A. while Leland Taylor removed the flag from the stone of Elijah Rinehart, and James Rinehart uncovered the monument for George Rinehart.
McNeill’s Rangers fired three shots in honor of these men and the closing prayer was offered by the Rev. Michael Mudge.
“Please education future generations of your family about our history. If a nation does not know its proud and glorious heritage, it has no future,” concluded Taylor.
To learn more about the historical preservation efforts of the cemetery organization visit www.chco.info or call 301-722-4624 or 301-697-0198.