Exploring Almost Forgotten Gravesites in the Great State of Ohio

Dedicated to cemetery preservation in the great state of Ohio

"A cemetery may be considered as abandoned when all or practically all of the bodies have been Removed therefrom and no bodies have been buried therein for a great many years, and the cemetery has been so long neglected as entirely to lose its identity as such, and is no longer known, recognized and respected by the public as a cemetery. 1953 OAG 2978."

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sharing sad news about an Illinois Cemetery - The Vawter Cemetery in Bethel Township in McDonough County, Illinois

My thanks to Mary Jane White of Illinois for sharing this sad news about the Vawter Cemetery in Bethel Township located in McDonough County, Illinois. 

Press Release


Over the last four summers, the McDonough County Historical Society has sought to locate and mark each of the cemeteries in our county with a new sign. At one point in the 1980s, Libby Grimm, Marge Harris, and Dwayne Lester identified over 120 cemeteries or burial sites within McDonough County.

Our goal is to reclaim, restore, and return respect to these resting places of our ancestors, forebears, or community leaders. It is already obvious, as a result of our search for some of these remote and isolated places, that the cemeteries or grave sites have become totally abandoned, neglected, and in some cases destroyed.

When a cemetery is desecrated (a violation of Illinois statutes), we lose a component of our history and culture. We also make a negative statement about our humanity and civility.

We can be proud of many of our neighbors who have volunteered to clean up and repair a neglected cemetery. And we thank a large number of individuals and businesses who have supported the 75 signs installed at these repositories of local history, art, architecture, demographics, and family life.

Now I am sending out a call for help to solve a cemetery mystery.

I had been searching for two years to find the Vawter Cemetery in Bethel Township. The first burial was Earley Vawter in 1835. Sebastian Hoover, a veteran of the War of 1812, was buried there in 1839. The last funeral was in 1920.

I eventually learned the name of the property owner where this cemetery is located. Alvin Curtis, who as a lad of four years old attended that last funeral in 1920, owns the property. He enthusiastically agreed to take me to the Vawter Cemetery.

Alvin no longer farms the surrounding land, but he vividly remembers approximately 25 large and beautiful headstones in an acre of fenced land with concrete posts and barbed wire.

Last week we parked as close as we could. Just before climbing over fences and trekking across dense brush, weeds, and thorn bushes, a nearby neighbor warned us that two years ago he spotted three pickup trucks driving away from the cemetery area. When he went out to the cemetery, all of the headstones had been removed.

Alvin was devastated at this bad news. But wanting to see for himself, he led me for 30 minutes through the nastiest, thickest, tallest field of weeds that I’ve ever experienced.

We found the “cemetery,” or what was once a cemetery. The posts and wire fence are still there. The gate has been removed. Under fallen timber and forest debris, we did find three small foot stones with mere initials carved into them. But all of the 25 family and historic headstones had been removed.

Next summer the MCHS will install one of its signs marking the Vawter Cemetery. But before that happens, I ask all of you to help solve the mystery of the missing memorials to our ancestors resting there.

If you have any clues to who removed the headstones and/or why, please report your information to the McDonough County Sheriff’s office (309/833-2323), or give me a call: Gil Belles, 309/837-9441, AG-Belles@wiu.edu

Spotlighting the Garfield Cemetery located in Sheffield, Lorain County, Ohio

Click on title to link to a great site for the Garfield Cemetery in Sheffield, Lorain County, Ohio. 

Very nice photographs of the beautiful old white marble upright stones are featured on the site. 

Unfortunately, the link for the listing of burials did not work for me on this site.  However, you can also find Garfield Cemetery on Find A Grave where currently 711 memorials for burials are listed. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Vandalism at Sheep Pen Cemetery Story in the Highland County Press

Click on title to link to the "Highland County Press" story about the recent senseless destruction of monuments and fragile historic gravestones at Sheep Pen Cemetery in Highland County, Ohio. 

There is a section to post comments if anyone would wish to comemnt in support of the restoration of Sheep Pen Cemetery, it would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Reporting Extensive Vandalism damage at Sheep Pen Cemetery in Madison Township, Highland County, Ohio

I visited the Sheep Pen Cemetery on Friday, July 15, 2011 and found about 15 gravemarkers, some large gray granite monument type stones, forceably pushed over. 

 Some of the more fragile older markers such as for Henry Limes, Samuel Crooks and Millie F. Crooks were cracked and broken due to being knocked down very hard. 

Sheep Pen Cemetery has suffered from vandalism over the years.  I have been visiting Sheep Pen Cemetery for 30 years, however, I have never seen as extensive vandalism to it as this episode was that damaged almost half of the stones in the entire cemetery. 

I know that on Veteran's Day 2010 a new GAR flag holder was placed for Samuel Crooks, who was a Civil War veteran.  A photograph of his stone was taken at that time and it was still standing.  Not only is his stone now pushed over and broken, but also his new GAR flag holder was purposely bent out of shape. 

Below are some of the photographs that were taken of the destruction. 

I am contacting the Madison Township, Highland County, Ohio trustees who are responsible for the maintenance of the Sheep Pen Cemetery to learn if they would do at least some repair and restoration of these badly damaged stones.

****Update for July 20, 2011***:

The Madison Township Trustees have contacted Hardy Memorials of Greenfield about repairing the restoring the stones.  Hardy Memorials has told me that they have submitted an estimate for their work.

Surnames of recently damaged stones are:  Crooks, Geller and Limes

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spotlighting cemeteries in Conneaut, Ashtabula County, Ohio

This website was created in 2003, and I am not sure of the timeframe for updates on it, but it is a very interesting and detailed site featuring many links to cemeteries and those in the area like North Kingsville, and even some in Pennsylvania. 
Selected gravestone photographs are included.

Remembering a Civil War Horse from Ohio named Frank

Click on title to read about Frank, the Civil War Horse, who served with Saddler Abraham Conger in Company "A" of the 12th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry.  Frank died in 1886, however, from some written accounts, his tombstone was inscribed with the year of death as 1888. 

Frank was buried on Captain Harter's Farm in Oceola, Crawford County, Ohio and is shown as such on "Find A Grave." 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

June 17, 2011 Update for Sugar Grove Cemetery in Perry Township, Fayette County, Ohio

"Sugar Grove Cemetery maintenance resolution letter from the office of:

"by Perry Township on Friday, June 17, 2011 at 2:09pm.To whom it may concern:

Through extensive research, it has been determined that the owner of record of the Sugar Grove Cemetery is the Sugar Grove Church and not Perry Township, Fayette County, Ohio. Also through this research, a resolution by Perry Township from the year 1908 has been uncovered concerning the Sugar Grove Cemetery. In that 1908 resolution, there is some indication that Perry Township assumed the duty to maintain the Sugar Grove Cemetery from the Sugar Grove Church, although the issue is complicated by the fact that this same resolution appointed three individuals from the Sugar Grove Church to be responsible for the actual carrying out of the maintenance of the Cemetery. Since 1908, various parties have carried out the maintenance of the Cemetery, and it is not at all clear who has that duty currently, although this could be clarified by the Perry Township Trustees passing a resolution that makes it clear that the Township is absolving itself of any duty to maintain the Sugar Grove Cemetery.

There are also a number of ancillary issues with regards to the Sugar Grove Cemetery that must be considered, including but not limited to the fact that there is some indication that the Sugar Grove Church would like to convey the Sugar Grove Cemetery to Perry Township, various issues regarding proposed building projects by the Sugar Grove Church on the Cemetery property that would require the exhuming of human remains, and the fact that original Perry

Township records are currently in the physical possession of the law office of Kiger & Kiger. We will provide information on these issues and related matters at a later date for your consideration."

Currently Find A Grave lists 27 burials at the Sugar Grove Cemetery.

Ohiogravestones.org currently lists 4 for Sugar Grove Cemetery. 

Remembering Jane Scott - 1919 - 2011 - Former Rock 'n' Roll Reporter for the Cleveland "Plain Dealer"

Remembering Jane Scott and her career as a Cleveland Plain Dealer Rock 'n' Roll reporter.  Click on title to read more about her life.  Currently her funeral arrangements are pending per the funeral home.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!!!

Happy Fourth of July!!!  
May it be joyous and safe for everyone.
I hope we can take a few moments today to visit a gravesite, or post a message with a virtual flower on a memorial posted on "Find A Grave" of a loved one, or even a stranger to honor our nation's 235th birthday and celebrate our American Independence.

I have a link (click on title!) to burial records at Union Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio.  Thanks to the internet we can virtually 'explore' burial sites even if we are not able to visit them in person.  
As with "Find A Grave", we can request gravestone photographs from kind and generous photo volunteers. 

More than ever, we now are able to locate where our ancestors were buried. 
But, we still need to preservere and protect their gravesites so time, vandalism, weather, and neglect don't steal them from us.  

We never take a holiday from caring about them do we. 
Thank you for your encouragement and support with this blog, and my best to you and yours to enjoy the 4th of July today!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Featuring a "Columbus Dispatch" story about Beth Santore who will be at Green Lawn Cemetery on July 9, 2011 at 11:00a.m. presenting information about the Association for Gravestone Studies -- Beth founded the Ohio Chapter of AGS!

It is my pleasure to share a link (click on title) to a story featured in today's "The Columbus Dispatch" about Beth Santore of Columbus, Ohio. 

Beth has an important presentation coming up on Saturday, July 9, 2011, beginning at 11:00a.m. at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus.
Beth also hosts the website Grave Addiction, which I have long enjoyed browsing for cemetery and gravestone information and photographs.
Quoting from the "Dispatch" story today:
"Santore, who works in information technology at Nationwide, will share her knowledge at:
11 a.m. Saturday in Huntington Chapel at Green Lawn Cemetery, 1000 Greenlawn Ave.
The talk is part of the free "First Saturday" series of programs (moved to the second Saturday this month)."

"She will discuss the National Association for Gravestone Studies, an organization of people who share her fascination with cemeteries and their monuments. She founded the Ohio Chapter and is on the national board of directors."
Thank you, Beth, for sharing your knoweldge of gravestone carvings with us!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Re-visiting Butcher Cemetery - North Lewisburg, Champaign County, Ohio

My thanks to Linda Moore who took these two photographs during her recent visit to the Butcher Cemetery in North Lewisburg. 

I have been trying to garner local interest and support for the Butcher Cemetery to continue not only regular maintenance of the grounds, but to also replace five Civil War Veterans grave markers that are there.  Most are barely readable and some are sinking into the ground and are almost out of sight.

Thank you, Linda, for visiting the Butcher Cemetery and providing your photographs which show that so many of the most beautiful tall statue type monuments have become broken into many pieces and crashed onto the ground and are now getting grown over by weeds as they sink out of sight unless restored back to being upright and in one piece as they once were. 

The Butcher Cemetery has 99 burials current listed on Find A Grave. 

Records being added on line for Edgewood Cemetery in Ashtabula Township, Ashtabula, Ohio

Click on title to link to the on-line records with headstone photographs currently offered on the website by the Ashtabula County Genealogical Society.
Additional information from the website:

"Ashtabula County Genealogical Society - Gravestone Photos"

"Edgewood (includes Edgewood Abbey).
West side of State Rd., south of intersection with US Rt. 20 (E. Prospect Rd.) east side of Ashtabula River. Coordinates: 41° 52’ 14” N, 80° 46’ 28” W

We started putting photos of Edgewood Cemetery on line at this link.

It is a large cemetery and will take time to get all the photos on line.

A Google Map of cemetery can be found at this link.

Thanks to Larry and Phyllis Willis for the photos.

Note: This is a partial listing, please check back often."

Spotlighting "Bishir Family Scrapbook" & Happy Fourth of July !!

Click on title to access the headstone page of the "Bishir Family Scrapbook."

This site is primarily for the surname of "Bishir", however, there are other surnames as well represented with tombstone photographs including:

 Hammond, Hardesty, Hills, Holaday, Hoover, Kainz, Leggett, Lind, Marshall, Moon, Murr, Pitzer, Ruse, Shaffer, Stroup, Taylor, and Willitt.  

The cemeteries are primarily in Highland County, Ohio.  

This is a nicely done family website! 
Enjoy browsing all of the links!   
Wishing everyone a happy and safe Fourth of July!!!