Whitegate Cemetery

Moundsville, West Virginia

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Whitegate Cemetery is located on Tom's Run Road, about mile from Fourth Street, outside Moundsville, West Virginia (Marshall County).

Whitegate Cemetery is the final resting place for indigent prisoners from the former West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, WV. The cemetery is approximately four miles from the Penitentiary. The majority of the prisoners buried at this cemetery died from natural causes (age, disease, etc), but a few were executed by hanging and electrocution. Also, during the 1930's-1950's almost every prisoner who died at the Penitentiary was buried here due to effects of the Great Depression. It's sad to think that these men had no relatives to claim them (or any relatives who wanted to claim them). But at least they weren't just buried without any compassion...the prisoners maintained a floral fund. Each inmate would donate one cent towards flowers to accompany a body to the cemetery.

Whitegate Cemetery was established in 1898 when the prison was forced to move it's cemetery for indigent patients outside the Moundsville city limits due to a new law. Prior to this cemetery being established, prisoners were buried in a five-acre plot adjoining the prison property.

I was also told that the cemetery didn't get it's name until the 1950's. The wife of one of the wardens took a strong interest in improving the cemetery, and she was the one who put up the white gate at the front entrance. That white gate is how the cemetery got it's name.

I thought this cemetery was very depressing to visit. There are simply rows and rows of white metal signs with a name, date of birth, date of death, and perhaps a prisoner number. There are also quite a few metal markers with no information printed on them. The grass in the cemetery was very high too. However, the location of the cemetery is quite peaceful. It's surrounded by trees, and a little creek borders it to the east.

In December 2005 Brian sent me a death certificate for Fred Morgan. His grave is located in the photo above titled "Born 1898". His cause of death was quite interesting. To see the death certificate, click here. Many thanks to Brian for sharing this with me!

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