Auburn, once a bustling community, is a historic town which was first settled in 1834, before West Virginia seceded from Virginia during the American Civil War. Like many other communities throughout the state, Auburn is experiencing a population decline which has affected the monetary support available to the Auburn Community Cemetery Committee. This Cemetery is the final resting place of some of Auburn's first settlers including the family names of Sommerville, Tharp, Hall and Watson with the earliest known grave being that of a young child, Robert Collins, who died in August, 1842. On January 31, 1874, Timothy and Sarah Tharp deeded the land to the trustees of the cemetery: John Sommerville, Abraham Kniseley, J. C. Gluck, Lemuel Hall, E. M. Brown, John Frymire, and George Evans. On the same day, John and Julia Kniseley, conveyed a right‐of‐way to the cemetery to the same trustees. The Auburn Community Cemetery Committee provides maintenance and upkeep of the Cemetery located within the town limits.
Concerned and forward-thinking individuals with loved ones interred in the Cemetery recently established a permanent charitable fund, the Friends of Auburn Community Cemetery Fund, with the Ritchie County Community Foundation (RCCF), an affiliate of the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF). The Friends of Auburn Community Cemetery Fund will forever provide an annual monetary distribution to the Cemetery Committee to support the public maintenance and upkeep of the Cemetery. Current members of the Auburn Community Cemetery Committee include Jim Lowther, Dave Crouch and Robert Lowther.
"It is not our intention for this new fund to hinder annual contributions to the Cemetery Committee," said Bob Sommerville. "My family and some friends started this fund to encourage others to plan for the future of our Cemetery and to provide a long-term option for other concerned citizens to include a donation to the fund through their estate plans and wills, or to use qualified retirement plans and IRA benefits to make a donation. By doing so, they are ensuring that this Cemetery is taken care of long after we have passed."
"The fund is permanent in nature so that the fund's principal, which includes all donations to the fund, is never invaded," said Julie Boyce, PACF's Development and Communications Officer. "This means the fund will forever invest and issue an annual distribution for the benefit of the Cemetery. PACF's prudent spending-policy helps to ensure that the fund continues to grow. Annually, the Cemetery Committee spends between $3,000 and $5,000 on upkeep of the Auburn Community Cemetery. A fund valued at $100,000 could potentially issue about $3,000 each year! The fund is off to a great start to that goal. The early supporters have pledged to help raise at least $100,000 in the next ten years to help grow this fund. They are already a tenth of the way to their goal with $10,000 in gifts to date. If others in the community likewise come forward, I'm sure their goal will be met."
Persons who wish to make a charitable gift to the Friends of Auburn Community Cemetery Fund can mail a check (payable to the PACF with fund name on memo line) to PACF, PO Box 1762, Parkersburg, WV 26101-1762. Other forms of donation may be made by calling the Foundation's office at 304.428.4438. The "Friends of Auburn (WV) Community Cemetery" has its own Facebook page; more details may be found on it. Annual gifts to the Auburn Community Cemetery Committee (for ongoing maintenance, rather than investment for the future) can be mailed to PO Box 92, Auburn, WV 26325.