HISTORICAL FACT:

Benjamin Jones was a surgeon in the
Revolutionary War and was said to be over 7 feet tall.
The area of Jones Creek was named for him.

HISTORY

Martinsville's oldest public cemetery was established as a part of the First Episcopal Church on land given by Mr. Marshall Hairston. This land was deeded to the church in 1847 and was located next to the church on the corner of Moss and Church Street. The Coca Cola Plant was eventually located on this site. Around 1885 the church cemetery was condemned and the current location known as Oakwood became Martinsville's only public cemetery. Most of the graves from the church cemetery were moved to Oakwood.

The original cemetery charter for Oakwood was dated April 23, 1883. A cemetery committee consisting of J. R. Brown, C. P. Kearfott, and C. D. Keffer, was appointed by the Martinsville Town Council. Around this same time, 8 ¾ acres were purchased from Dr. James Moss Smith for $50 per acre to establish the site. The town of Martinsville owned the cemetery until 1887 when it was deeded to the Martinsville Cemetery Association. Today the cemetery contains a little over 20 acres of land.

Some Cemetery Facts:

  • First known burial was Alice Pearson around 1888
  • John Hix Pharis was Mayor of Martinsville in 1886 and eventually was buried here in 1959
  • John O. Shumate was caretaker for Oakwood Cemetery from 1943 until 1971
  • Unknown Soldier – Killed in a skirmish at Jones Creek in April 1865 at the end of the War Between the States. The soldier was buried in the church yard and later reinterred in Oakwood
  • Two Union soldiers killed in the skirmish at Jones Creek were buried in the back yard of Dr. James Moss Smith and were later moved to the National Cemetery in Danville, VA
  • 69 known and 8 unknown Confederate soldiers at Oakwood Cemetery
  • 1 Union soldier buried at Oakwood, Benjamin Franklin Stevens, in 1916
  • For more information on Confederate Veterans, click here.

Many thanks to Desmond Kendrick, Archivist, for information provided.

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