West Virginia National Cemeteries Project

In the aftermath of the American Civil War (1861-1865), that bloody conflict’s unprecedented number of casualties required a new vision for how American veterans would be honored and buried. Efforts by Congress and the U.S. military soon gave rise to a system of “national cemeteries.” There are now 155 such cemeteries spanning the country, staffed by the National Cemetery Administration (NCA), a division of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In 1867, Grafton National Cemetery in Taylor County, West Virginia, was among the first wave of these new institutions (and created only four years after the birth of West Virginia). When Grafton began running out of space after the Vietnam War, the newer West Virginia National Cemetery was commissioned four miles away from Grafton in Pruntytown. It opened in 1987, and both cemeteries are administered by the same NCA staff. These are West Virginia’s only national cemeteries.

National Cemetery Administration logo

In 2021, the West Virginia Humanities Council obtained funding through the VA’s Veterans Legacy Program (VLM) to pilot a new initiative honoring the service of men and women interred in Grafton and Pruntytown: the West Virginia National Cemeteries Project. Since then, the project has continued to grow and evolve through funding from the VLM’s successor, the Veterans Legacy Grant Program (VLGP).


Students looking at names on WV Veterans Memorial

At the Veterans Memorial in Charleston

Approximately forty West Virginia high school students (from Grafton High school and, recently, University High School in Morgantown), assisted by graduate-level researchers from West Virginia University’s Public History program, work in small groups for several months to research and write biographies of individual veterans. The biographies available on this page are the result of their hard work.


Using newspapers, yearbooks, obituaries, census records, city directories, archival records, and sometimes even letters or interviews with family members, the students sought to vividly memorialize the lives and service of their veterans. In the eyes of the project, every veteran’s experience is considered equally valuable. There is no requirement for length of service; a veteran need not have seen combat or served during a conflict. The only prerequisite is interment at one of West Virginia’s two national cemeteries.


The Humanities Council is proud to salute America’s veterans through the West Virginia National Cemeteries Project, and continues to be honored by the assistance and/or partnership of the Taylor County Historical and Genealogical Society, Grafton High School, West Virginia University, West Virginia Archives and History, as well as many supportive members of the public. We hope to nurture and expand the project for many years to come.


Please forward questions or comments to the Council program officer at wvhuman@wvhumanities.org




This page is undergoing changes as we add biographies and improve the quality of the West Virginia National Cemeteries Project.


Over the summer of 2024, we are in the process of:

          • Updating the visual style of all project biographies to a common standard.
          • Adding functions to more easily sort and search biographies.
          • Migrating files to Archive.org for better public access.


Thank you for your patience while we make these improvements!


West Virginia National Cemeteries Project Veteran Biographies

Boston, John Edward - USA
Cleland, James Rowe - USAAC
Collins, Frank - USA
Cosner, Glenn Hayward - USA
Crenshaw, Roscoe - USN
Faber, Fred Jr. - USA
Gabbert, Kathryn Regina - USA
Galloway, Arnold Carlos - USA
Hixenbaugh, Verl Veigh - USA
Illig, Wilbert Henry - USA
Lark, Curtis - USA
Martin, Scott - USA
Mayhew, John Ready - USA
McArdle, Robert Henry - USMC
Mock, Walter Charles - USA
Neese, George Hunter - USN
Pahut, Stanley John - USA
Pearson, Lawrence Donald - USA
Piotrowski, Michal - USN
Poe, Edsell Neil - USAAC
Ross, Bessie Genevieve - USAAC
Setler, Ralph Junior - USN
Shaffer, Clarence Earl - USN
Shields, Steve Dekator - USA
Stansberry, Gilbert Johnnie - USN
Wilkinson, Earl Durbin - USA
Wilson, Altaugh - USA
Yeskulsky, Stanley Joseph - USA
Yost, Ira Ray - USN


History Curriculum for Your Classroom or Homeschool

Want to supplement your U.S. or West Virginia history lessons through the lives of everyday veterans? Check out our material for grades 8-12 here.


Check out the curriculum page »

WV National Cemeteries Project Tutorials

Topical video tutorials for students of the West Virginia National Cemeteries Project


Access the playlist »

West Virginia Standing Together

With special funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Humanities Council partnered with West Virginia military veterans to produce a six-part web series titled West Virginia Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War.


Watch the episodes »

Ageless Friends via Public Broadcasting

Stream this 2016 Council grant-funded documentary, which chronicles the story of a young Dutch man determined to uncover the story of the West Virginia World War II veteran whose grave he adopted in the Netherlands.


Watch the documentary »