FAIRMONT, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center held a presentation about the botanical life of cemeteries and graveyards in the Upper Monongahela Valley Sunday.
Mary Linscheid, a West Virginia University (WVU) student, and Dr. Travis Stimeling, WVU Professor of Musicology, showcased their research on gravestones, cemetery plants and the Upper Monongahela Valley Deathscape. They said that they have found through their research that there are old Appalachian folklore practices of marking graves with plants.
“One of the things we found by doing this work is that there are two kinds of plants that we find on the oldest of the graves, yuccas and red seeders, and that those help us find some of the oldest, even going back to the 18th century,” Dr. Stimeling said.
The research also showed that plants are used to mark where African Americans and indigenous people have been buried as well.
“So, it is really important to us to have events like this for the community and for students because it brings people an understanding of what folklife is, what history is, and how they can connect with those things,” said Lydia Warren, director of the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center.
Warren also said that holding events and lectures at the center is important to bring educational programming to the students and the community.