Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Spring Hill Cemetery, Huntington

Spanning 110 acres in southeast Huntington, Spring Hill Cemetery is the resting place of generations of the community’s leading citizens. Originally only 30 acres, the cemetery has been steadily enlarged over the years. Owned and operated by the Greater Huntington Park & Recreation District, it contains approximately 80,000 graves.

Spring Hill’s oldest grave is dated 1838, when the site was still open countryside. The first official burial came in 1873. The following year, the city of Huntington purchased the property from the Central Land Company, owned by Huntington founder Collis P. Huntington. At the time the cemetery was purchased, it was actually outside the Huntington city limits. Its name is thought to have come from an old spring house that once stood close to where the first bodies were buried.

During the cemetery’s early years, bodies sometime were disinterred from private or family graveyards and reburied at Spring Hill. For many years, Spring Hill was the only racially integrated cemetery in the area.

More than 300 Civil War soldiers are buried at Spring Hill, including Confederate General Albert Gallatin Jenkins and Union General John Hunt Oley. Separate sections at the cemetery include the graves of veterans of each of America’s later wars.

Many of the city’s prominent Catholic and Jewish families are buried in designated sections reflecting their faith. The Catholic section includes the graves of the pioneer Pallottine Sisters who in 1924 founded St. Mary’s Hospital (now St. Mary’s Medical Center). A small brick building now houses the cemetery’s sales office but originally was built as a chapel where services could be held prior to burials.

On November 14, 1970, a chartered airliner carrying the Marshall University football team crashed while attempting to land at Tri-State Airport, killing all 75 aboard. The bodies of six players who could not be identified are buried at Spring Hill, their resting place marked by a nine-foot granite memorial. Near the memorial are the graves of some of the other players, coaches and fans that died in the crash.

The cemetery is also home to the Spring Hill Memorial Bell Tower, which honors the victims of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, including Huntington native Dr. Paul Ambrose. Killed in the crash at the Pentagon, Dr. Ambrose was buried at Spring Hill. A city-wide wellness path named in his honor winds its way through the cemetery. Each September the cemetery displays nearly 3,000 American flags as a tribute to all the victims of the 2001 attack.

Written by James E. Casto