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."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spotlighting the History of Sheep Pen (AKA Gustin or Limes) Cemetery - Highland County, Ohio

Scott Andersen standing by restored original Pvt. Samuel Crooks stone - September, 2011

Sheep Pen Cemetery - Highland County Ohio

Sheep Pen Cemetery is an early southern Ohio burying ground long known by various names since its earliest burials beginning in the 1830s. Its multiple identities have continued into the present.

Fayette County records support calling it “Limes” or “Old Limes” Cemetery, however, recent Highland County maps give it the name “Gustin Cemetery.” But it is the cemetery’s own newer bright green metal marker bolted securely to the front fence that unmistakably proclaims it to be: “Sheep – Pen Cemetery Madison Twp Greenfield, OH.” Like a child’s given name on an official birth certificate, “Sheep – Pen” should be considered true and valid as the identity for this cemetery sometimes referred to as “Limes” or “Gustin” (as much as I would love to see it always be known as “Limes” – my maiden name!)

According to the book Cemetery Inscriptions of Highland County, Ohio, compiled by David N. and Jane N. McBride, copyright 1954, on page 361, under the cemetery name “Gustin”: “This name is very unusual and residents of the vicinity say that the name was acquired because sheep were often placed there to graze.” This clue tells us that “Sheep Pen” was a casual type moniker that became popular by residents living on both sides of the county boundary line.

The sloping Sheep - Pen Cemetery straddles the Fayette/Highland County, Ohio boundary line. It sits southeast off a short semi-circular paved entrance that connects to the Greenfield-Sabina Road (County Highway 5 in Fayette County and becomes County Highway 98 in Highland County) with coordinates of Latitude 39.3767304 and Longitude -83.4246385, per the website: hometownlocator.com.

Quoting from the cemetery’s introduction paragraph in Cemetery Inscriptions of Highland County, Ohio, page 361: "On October 24, 1828, in Original Book "R", page 123, Highland County Deed Records, William Gustin and Hannah his wife deeded to William Collins and Henry Limes of the County of Fayette and William Pierson, Thomas G. Collins of the County of Highland, Trustees, one and one-eighth acre situated in Madison Township, Highland County, Ohio."

The document further states: “… that they shall build or cause to be erected and built thereon a house or place of worship for the use of the members of the Methodist Episcopal Church…”

The location is described as “…part of a tract of 1466 2/3 acres numbered as survey 6938 and granted to Samuel McKee assignee of James Gilmore by patent bearing date April 13, 1812.”

However, on December 20, 1900, (Original Book 94, page 210), ownership of this property was turned over to both Highland County’s Madison Township and Fayette County’s Perry Township Trustees for the sole purpose of burials.

To date, no record of the construction of an actual church structure on the grounds of the Sheep – Pen Cemetery have been found.

Surnames of individuals buried at the Sheep – Pen Cemetery:

Aber, Barkley, Beals, Bennett, Best, Boyd, Brock, Crooks, Daugherty (Dougherty), Dorman, Geller, Goodwin, Irwin, Kelley (Kelly), Limes, McVey (McVay), McWilliams, Penwell, Rogers, Roosa, Shepherd, and Yohn.

"Old Limes" Cemetery as it appears in the Fayette County Plat Map Book