West Virginia State University to Host Dedication Ceremony for Cabell Cemetery Friday

Contact: Jack Bailey
(304) 766-4109
May 8, 2024
West Virginia State University to Host Dedication Ceremony for Cabell Cemetery Friday
INSTITUTE, W.Va. – West Virginia State University (WVSU) will host a dedication ceremony on Friday, May 10, at 11:30 a.m. for the recently expanded Cabell Cemetery.

The dedication ceremony will take place at the site of the cemetery, which is along Barron Drive just past Earl Lloyd Way on the campus map. Parking is available in Lot G West. The ceremony is free and open to the public. 

The original Cabell Cemetery contained 24 graves, including Samuel I. and Mary Barnes Cabell as well as 20 descendants and family members. Mary, a slave, and Samuel, once owned the land now occupied by West Virginia State University. In 1858, Samuel freed Mary and their 13 children. After his murder in 1865, Mary and the children inherited the 970-acre Cabell estate along the Kanawha River. 

When the West Virginia Legislature approved a land-grant school for non-white students in 1891, the site chosen was within the Cabell estate. Marina, a Cabell daughter, sold the state 30 acres and West Virginia Colored Institute was founded. 

The school grew, becoming West Virginia Collegiate Institute in 1915, West Virginia State College in 1929, and West Virginia State University in 2004. One of the school’s early presidents, J.M. McHenry Jones, is buried in the Cabell Cemetery.

The former Brown Cemetery was located near the campus of WVSU and contained 18 graves where Samuel and Mary’s daughter, Eunice Cabell Brown, her husband, Zachariah Taylor Brown, and their descendants were buried. 

Several years ago, WVSU alum Dr. Langley Spurlock, the great-great-grandson of Eunice Cabell Brown, and one of only a few known living descendants, proposed relocating the Brown Cemetery to be part of the Cabell Cemetery on the WVSU campus. 

The proposal was approved by the West Virginia State University Board of Governors in October 2022 and by the Kanawha County Circuit Court in May 2023, and the work to disinter and move the graves to the Cabell Cemetery took place earlier this spring under the supervision of Keller Funeral Home.

In the event of rain the dedication ceremony will take place in the lobby of the Walker Convocation Center.

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West Virginia State University is a public, land-grant, historically black university, which has evolved into a fully accessible, racially integrated, and multi-generational institution, located in Institute, W.Va. As a “living laboratory of human relations,” the university is a community of students, staff, and faculty committed to academic growth, service, and preservation of the racial and cultural diversity of the institution. Its mission is to meet the higher education and economic development needs of the state and region through innovative teaching and applied research.
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