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."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Spotlighting the Greenfield Historical Society, Greenfield, Highland County, Ohio and Their Dedication to Restoring The Old Burying Ground in Greenfield

The Greenfield Historical Society has done a wonderful job of preserving not only the history and records of their quaint town of Greenfield, Ohio, but of late they have been quite active as well with hands-on volunteer efforts to preserve and protect their oldest cemetery appropriately named "The Old Burying Ground."  

This blog has devoted several posts over the years to the work that members of the Greenfield Historical Society have done to  improve the condition of the gravestones at the Old Burying Ground which has 366 interments listed for it on "Find A Grave."  

Cleaning and some repair and re-setting of early fragile gravestones produced successful results that are easily seen when comparing the "Before" and "After" photographs posted on the society's website. 

Click HERE to view the photographs taken while in progress with accompanying descriptions of the May 24, 2014 all volunteer cemetery workshop.  This demonstrates how much good can be accomplished in one day by a small group of dedicated volunteers who also have been trained ahead of time to utilize proper methods and tools not to harm the stones.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Wesley Limes (1831 - 1916) - Find A Grave Memorial

Wesley Limes (1831 - 1916) - Find A Grave Memorial

Sharing my "Find A Grave" Memorial for my g-g grandfather, Wesley Limes, who served in the 66th Regiment, Company "H", from Champaign County, Ohio.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Old Burying Ground, Greenfield, Highland County, Ohio - May 24, 2014 Workshop with Scott and Venus Andersen



Click here to view the album of photographs and read progress descriptions of the work completed by Scott and Venus Andersen, who with their team of volunteers from the Greenfield Historical Society, cleaned, repaired and re-set damaged gravestones on May 24, 2014, at the Old Burying Ground in Greenfield where most of the town's earliest settlers were buried.  
 ******
Below also are the photographs with some details taken during the workshop:
 (All quotes below are by Scott Andersen)
 
(Above)
 
"This stone was my primary focus today.  It has bothered me for a long time now that it has been so close to falling over.  It had broken parts of another stone leaning on it for years, and this is no doubt why it had tipped backwards like this.  The stone belongs to Sarah Smith, wife of Robert, who died in 1880.   

It didn't take much work to get this stone standing straight again.  You can see a broken stone lying behind it.  This is the stone that had been leaning on it, and it turns out this is her husband Robert's stone.  It was broken off, and then broken into two pieces.  Shirley Shields spent a good hour cleaning the stone with water and Orvus soap after we got it standing upright.  It came out very nice."

(A longer shot view of the Sarah Smith stone is shown below)
 
 
(For the two photos shown above)
 
"The first photo shows Sarah Smith's stone in the background, with her husband's stone laying just behind it.  Laying on the ground just in front of it here is her son, William Smith's stone.  William died in 1816, so this is one of the oldest stones at the Old Burying Ground. 

The next photo shows the located lower portion of William's stone.  His stone is unusual to the Old Burying Ground, as it is a simple tablet with no base.  Most headstones there have a separate base.  William's stone had broken into three pieces."
 
( Photo directly above and the photo directly below)

Here you can see William Smith's stone back up and the epoxy repair drying with the clamps in place.   We had just located the buried base to Robert Smith's headstone at this point, and John King is seen here digging down to it.

 
(Photo above)

Cleaning up after working on the three Smith gravestones
 
 (Above)

"These look pretty good don't you think?  Considering two of them were in three pieces, and the other was about to join them on the ground, I'm pretty happy."

Scott
*************************** 
(Description for the photographs below of the Mary, David and Amy Templeton gravestones)

"There were six of us working with the gravestones today.  Below are photos of a group of three that Venus and Susan Thompson cleaned for us.  John King and I followed afterward and straightened them up.  The stone on the right of Amy Templeton had to be removed from it's base and re-set with slot mix.  The girls did a great job cleaning these stones, they look terrific."

 
 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Spotlighting Orange Hill Cemetery - Hunting Valley, Cuyahoga County, Ohio


 Above two photographs are of the Janette Beach gravestone.


 (Above)



Above are random photographs taken May 21, 2014 by Richard Luciano who visited the Orange Hill Cemetery in Hunting Valley, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.  Thanking Rick for sharing his photographs.

As you can see, several stones are broken and knocked down from what could have been a vandalism attack at some point in time.  

The Service Department of the Village of Hunting Valley is responsible for the care of the Orange Hill Cemetery.

 Per the Ohio Genealogical Society book:  "Ohio Cemeteries 1803 - 2003" - K. Roger Troutman, Editor, the Orange Hill Cemetery was in 2003 an active cemetery. 


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

May 16, 2014 Minutes of the Meeting of The Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE OHIO CEMETERY LAW TASK FORCE

77 S. High Street, 22nd Floor Hearing Room May 16, 2014
Columbus, OH 43215-6133 9:30 a.m.
___________________
__________________________
I. Preliminary Matters

Co-chair Noonan called the meeting to order.
Roll Call: Laura Monick conducted roll call.

Present: Daniel Applegate, Stephen George, Dr. John N. Low, Hon. Cory Noonan, Patrick Piccininni, Jay Russell, David Snyder, James Turner, James Wright, Laura Monick on behalf of Anne M. Petit.

Excused: Hon. Keith G. Houts, Anne M. Petit

Review of Meeting Minutes: Co-Chair Noonan opened the floor for discussion of the minutes of the April 28, 2014 meeting of the Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force. There being no discussion Mr. Turner moved to approve the minutes of the April 28th meeting. Mr. Applegate seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

II. Old Business

Co-Chair Noonan opened the floor for discussion of old business. The task force discussed whether they wanted to take motions on specific definitions or work towards drafting all the recommendations together. The taskforce agreed to finalize all of their recommendations in a draft document prior to entertaining motions.

Laura Monick presented Chief Glenna Wallace’s (Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma) written testimony that was originally offered to the Ohio Legislative Commission on the Education and Preservation of State History on May 13, 2010. Dr. Low stated that the written testimony from 2010 remains relevant today and asked that it be accepted by the task force. Mr. George moved to accept the written testimony of Chief Wallace. Mr. Turner seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Mr. Piccininni joined the meeting at 9:46 am.

The task force then moved onto definition of terms and discussed “abandonment”. Mr. Turner presented his draft amendments to ORC 4767.12 to include a definition of abandonment. Discussion then moved to the topic of separate protection for family cemeteries on private property and whether the task force should look at increasing criminal penalties and creating a reporting process for discovery of remains on private property for protection of those remains. There was also discussion on incorporating NAGPRA by rule to provide notice requirements for ancestral remains.

The proposed definition of human remains was read into the record as “human remains means any part of the body of a deceased human being in any stage of decomposition or state of preservation or the remaining bone fragments from the body of a deceased human being that has been reduced by cremation or alternative disposition.” There was no discussion as the task force agreed with the definition as presented.
The task force moved on to the proposed definition of maintenance; agreeing to the newly proposed additions of paragraphs F & G while taking out the words: “burial ground or burial site” and “building.”

(F) Whether registered or unregistered, no cemetery, burial ground or burial site will be permitted to become a nuisance as defined by applicable law. Division staff is authorized to make nuisance referrals to local building authorities with jurisdiction over the cemetery, burial ground or burial site.

(G) For purposes of this section, a cemetery in a condition that would rise to the level of a nuisance is not considered reasonable maintenance.

The task force then deliberated over the term inactive and whether that would include when a cemetery is no longer selling burial rights or no longer conducting burials but where the cemetery is still being cared for by an operator. Mr. Applegate and Mr. Wright provided that the industry would consider a state of inactivity to be when there are no more interments; however, it would be possible for a “full” cemetery to discover land where they could put a columbarium and the cemetery would then be active again. After deliberating further, the task force concluded that at this time they would not define the term inactive unless it comes up in future discussions.

III. New Business

Co-chair Noonan brought the task force into new business and discussion began on natural burial, the Green Burial Council, the Federal Trade Commission rules on advertising “green,” and current Ohio laws that relate to natural burials. The task force wants to encourage cemeteries to be able to offer services that consumers want currently and in the future.

The task force briefly talked about the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves having two nature preserve cemeteries. The task force requested more information on what the cost is to maintain those cemeteries and what the management program does to preserve the tombstones.

This led to a dialogue on whether there was a way to define, identify and categorize a “history preserve” or whether ORC Chapter 149 and archeological sites is a vehicle to address historical cemeteries. The task force identified two items they may want to address with respect to historic cemeteries - how to recognize their existence and how to protect them. The task force requested more information on ORC Chapter 149 and agreed to table their discussion pending the requested information.

Finally, the task force determined that they will not include a definition for “natural burial” but will instead include a general recommendation that natural burials be permitted to remain legal as long as the natural burial does not violate health codes.

The task force next moved to record keeping. The task force recognized they would like to integrate record keeping in a way that is useful and connects all the different cemeteries. There was discussion on ORC 4767.12 additions to address how a receiver appointed under that statute would handle the cemetery records. Mr. Turner will present a draft at the next meeting. The task force agreed that a draft of ORC 4767.12 should be presented to the Ohio Township Association and Ohio Municipal League after the task force has had an opportunity to fully vet the changes being drafted.

Further discussion on record keeping included digitizing records: the cost and the proper way to store as current electronic storage options may become outdated. The task force determined that a recommendation for a centralized database may be too far reaching and therefore will include in their general recommendations that in the future the General Assembly may consider the method, medium and place for storage of cemetery records for public access due to the historical and genealogical value of those records.

Next Meeting Dates:
June 6, 2014 at 9:30am.
 

IV. Adjournment
 

Mr. Turner moved to adjourn. Dr. Low seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Winfield Scott Limes (1875 - 1959) - Find A Grave Memorial


Thanking Joel N. Cocker,  for his expert restoration work on my grandfather (and Joel's great-great grandfather!) Winfield Scott Limes  photograph originally taken sometime in the late 1940s to early 1950s.   

The photograph had suffered water damage and had a crease running horizontally across the facial area.  Thanks to Joel's fantastic work, the photograph appears to have been just taken yesterday!  I am so excited to share here after posting it on the "Find A Grave" memorial for Winfield Scott Limes, born in Pickaway County, Ohio and died in Lorain, Ohio.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Urbana's Old Graveyard is Remembered with an Ohio Historical Marker - June 7, 2014 at 1:00p.m.

Champaign County Historical Society809 East Lawn Avenue Urbana, Ohio 43078937-653-6721champhistmus@ctcn.net
 

May 15, 2014

URBANA’S OLD GRAVE YARD TO RECEIVE HISTORIC MARKER URBANA, OHIO


A spacious, grassy plot at the northeast corner of the intersection of Ward and Kenton Streets in Urbana has witnessed pick-up ball games, flyers of kites, builders of snowmen, picnickers, youngsters school bound and neighborhood families out for a stroll.

It is doubtful that any of them realized the significance of this little park, established in 1805 as the first burial grounds for the Urbana settlement.


For nearly two centuries, this quiet spot has fulfilled its assignment as a final resting place for pioneer ancestors, but with nary a headstone, a monument, a flag or a flower to tell its story to passersby. That will soon be remedied.


June 7 at 1 p.m., the Champaign County Historical Society (CCHS), in collaboration with the Ohio Historical Society, will unveil a historic marker at the site of what is known as the Old Grave Yard at the corner of Ward and Kenton Streets, once the north and east boundaries of Urbana, explaining the reason for this little clearing in the midst of a residential neighborhood.


In addition to the Champaign County and Ohio Historical Societies, the event is being sponsored by the Walter Smith Funeral Home and the City of Urbana and was organized by the CCHC Historic Marker Committee, Joe Rizzutti, chair, Mark Gaver and Dan Walter.


The text of the marker acknowledges the location as the county’s original burial ground, dedicated in 1805 and in use until 1856, and honors those still interred, one of which is believed to be a young daughter of Simon Kenton.


The reverse side of the marker commemorates the 202nd anniversary of the War Council of 1812, a gathering of local settlers and representatives of the Wyandot and Shawnee tribes held in 1812 about a hundred yards southwest of the Old Grave Yard.


The War Council was called by Ohio Governor Meigs to assure the Native Americans that should General William Hull’s troops, then encamped in Urbana, be deployed to Detroit through tribal lands, the terms of the Treaty of Greenville would be upheld, and to confirm that the Native Americans would stand as our allies against the British.


The June 7 program will include dedicatory remarks by sponsors and project researchers. Some of the Kenton Kin, descendants of Simon Kenton, will be introduced as will members of the Shawnee, Seneca, Mingo and Wyandot Nations. Historic re-enactors in period costume will be on hand and a Native American Drumming Ceremony will be featured.


Following the on-site formalities, the Champaign County Historical Society will host a reception at the Museum.


Rizzutti notes that city records, maps, county histories, biographies and newspaper articles contributed to the information for the marker application, but some of what is told of the property and those buried there is rooted in oral history and is difficult to verify.


Rizzutti adds that it took an act of nature to give impetus to the ongoing investigation and finally secure the Ohio Historical Society’s approval for a historic marker.


While ground-penetrating radar, a technology suggested by Society member Greg Shipley, was being used to search for more graves, the only tree on the burial site, a massive burr oak estimated to be 179 years old, was torn from the ground during a violent storm, bringing to the surface a tangle of roots and human bones, certifying that more graves did, indeed, exist.


One of the burials of record, believed to still be interred in the Old Grave Yard, is that of Elizabeth Kenton, eight-year-old daughter of celebrated pioneer scout Simon Kenton.


Also, some early settlers of the area; unidentified soldiers from the War of 1812; Captain Arthur Thomas and his son who died at the hands of Native Americans, and four children of a Bell family, killed in a tornado, are thought to be still buried there.


Desirous of providing a lasting memento of the marker unveiling and to honor those for whom the Old Grave Yard remains a final resting place, CCHC commissioned woodworker Doug Dill to design and handcraft a limited number of commemorative paperweights of wood salvaged from the uprooted oak, faithful sentinel of the burial grounds for almost 200 years.


Dill said the paperweights will be replicas of 19th century headstones with engraved brass plates bearing the memorial text. They will be sold for $15 each at the marker ceremonies. Paperweights can be reserved by calling the Historical Society Museum, 937-653-6721.
 

In case of rain, the marker ceremonies will be moved to the Historical Society Museum, 809 East Lawn Avenue.

                                  COMPLETE TEXT OF THE HISTORIC MARKERS
Side one:
                                  OLD GRAVE YARD
 

In 1805, a burial ground was dedicated to Champaign County at the intersection of Ward and Kenton Streets, which was then at Urbana’s town limits. It remained open until 1856. 

Among those interred there was Elizabeth Kenton, eight-year-old daughter of Simon Kenton. 

When she died in 1810, Kenton, the county jailer, was forbidden from crossing out of the town limits due to his unpaid debts. After following the funeral procession as far as he could, he watched Elizabeth’s burial from across the street. Also buried there were unknown soldiers from the War of 1812, Captain Arthur Thomas and son who were killed by Native Americans in August, 1813, four Bell children, who died in the tornado of March 22, 1830, and numerous early settlers of Champaign County. Many, but not all, were reinterred and rest in Oak Dale Cemetery.

Side two:


                                  WAR COUNCIL OF 1812


To confirm that the Treaty of Greenville would be upheld, Ohio Governor Return J. Meigs called a council with Native Americans June 6-9, 1812. He sought approval to cross native land when marching to Canada and to ensure their alliance with the United States against the British.

Among the tribes and chiefs credited for attending were the Shawnee (Black Hoof, Captain Lewis), Wyandot (Tarhe, Roundhead), Seneca (Civil John), and Mingo. General William Hull, Colonels
MacArthur, Cass and Findley, the Wyandot interpreter Isaac and Simon Kenton are also thought to have attended. Blockhouses were erected along Hull’s Trace for storage and the protection of local settlers. The actual location of the gathering was on the rise about 100 yards southwest of the Old Grave Yard.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Remembering the Old Graveyard in Urbana, Ohio -- Ohio Historical Marker Dedication - Saturday, June 7, 2014 in Urbana, Ohio

Sharing the following announcement and news story (with permission) by the Champaign County Historical Society that appears in their current May, 2014 newsletter:





 *************************************

URBANA UNION
Wednesday, August 16, 1871

Written for the Urbana Union
"Cursed Be He Who Disturbs My Bones."
—Shakspeare. [sic]

(Transcribed by Linda Jean Limes Ellis – May 13, 2014
(Typed as written with minor corrections)

*******

            The grave-yard to be plowed up. The bones of our citizens and the soldiers of 1812 to be desecrated. Shakspeare's [sic] anathama [sic] "cursed be he who disturbs my bones,” has lost its terror with our City Dads.

            Shade of Frederic Gump (sp)!  Rise in your revolutionary habilliments [sic] and shake your gory locks, whitened by the frosts of 107 winters, in the face of him who first dares attempt the cursed deed.

            If the tax payers of this city will supinely submit to be plucked to the sum of nearly $50,000 a year, in support of a city government, it is no reason why all the old inhabitants, who carved it out of a wilderness, should be shocked and outraged by the acts of those who now claim to be the City Council.

            Some few weeks ago a petition signed by a few citizens living on Ward street, and who are greatly mistaken as to its ultimate benefit to them, or the effect of the measure upon the value of their property, presented it to the Council asking the running of said street through the old town grave-yard, upon which appropriate action was had, and reference made to the City Board of Public Improvements.  The Board after advising themselves of the merits of the proposition, very sensibly determined to report adversely.  The ring watching the Movement suddenly discovered danger, and changed their tactics, and procured and presented a new petition against the remonstrance on file with the city Clerk, of all the land owners east of Sycamore Street, and some in other localities, asking the extension to East Lawn Avenue, and manipulated the Council into the belief that their former reference was not lawful, and that the Council itself must act directly in premises

            This new phase of the proposition was promptly met by the presentation of a remonstrance, signed by about 225 of our best citizens, obtained without any general canvass, which no doubt would more than have doubled it.  Instead of treating it with that due respect which our City Government owes to its constituency.  The people who signed it were insulted by a prominent member, by the gross and burly remark that such an expression amounted to nothing, that signatures to such papers were mere commonplace things, that as many or more could be obtained favoring the petition, and it was consigned  without action as is usual with the Council, to a pigeon-hole in the City Clerk's office, where I hope it will remain without mutilation as a memento for the use of the Centennial meeting to be held by an adjournment on the 15th of March, 1916, as dodge number ONE.

            The opponents to the measure of running the street through the grave-yard, after having been thus foiled and repulsed, obtained signatures of nearly all the old settlers of the town to a memorial respectfully addressed to the Council, asking it to submit the whole question to the people of all the Wards after 20 days notice, and suspend further action until the people settled it by their votes, which was also carefully read and shared the fate of it predecessor, after refusing to even second the motion of one member to accept the reasonable proposition, it was 4 to 1 ordered on FILE, to be used it is hoped, March 15th, 1916, as dodge number TWO.

            On the next meeting of the Council the member who was not present at the previous meeting having the fear of the people before him, voluntarily called up the memorial from its perch in the pigeon hole, and obtaining a second he elaborately urged the reasonableness of the proposition and insisted upon a direct vote of Ayes and Nays, which seemed to be waxing too hot to be any longer skulked by some of them, and it became convenient to move an adjournment, which is always convenient and in order, and of course the body dissolved into thin air as a City Council.  This was dodge number THREE, which is also handed over to March 15th, 1916, to be reviewed by the great grand-children of this redoubtable City Council, who no doubt will stare at each other and wonder if they sprung from such *****, such an ancestry.

            During the progress of these interventions of the people to save the old time honored grave-yard, an ordinance was dragging its slimy serpentine length through the regular weekly sessions of the City Council to its third reading, which occurred on the 31st of July 1871, and culminated in the hellish and damnable act of passing the ordinance to decimate the old venerated grave-yard without promoting any public benefit as to travel, transit or drainage.

            Well might Shakspeare [sic] be supposed to have had a prophetic vision of the scenes enacted in our City Council Chamber on the memorable night of July 31st, 1871, when applying his words to other scenes he broke forth substantially in the language "clothed with a little brief authority, they cut such high phantastic tricks before high Heaven, as made angels weep!"  If departed spirits really take cognizance of the acts of men, it would not require any great draw on the imagination to suppose that, that portion of the angelic hosts, whose earthly tabernacles were reposing in the old Urbana grave-yard, would have good reason to indulge in the weeping mood, in view of the bull-headed stubbornness with which they resisted popular appeals of the people, both in the City and the surrounding country.  Can this monstrosity be submitted to by the great masses of our population?  Time will tell.

             But there is another phase to this uncalled for proceedings, besides the burkeing [sic] of the bones of the dead by municipal hyenas.  It destroys a munificent grant entered of record, to the PEOPLE from the original proprietor of the town which was intended to remain intact for generation after generation, the whole of which as now inclosed, measures in a square with avenues around it, not less than one and five eight [sic] acres of land now near the center of the City, and which in the times to come, will be worth as I have said elsewhere, not less than $20,000 and may at small expense be made a beautiful place of resort and promenade for our people of the present day. Shall this all be sacrificed to gratify the senseless whims of a few persons owning property on Ward street?  They invested their money in it with a full knowledge of all the facts, they knew it abutted a grave-yard, dating back a full half century. Have they any right to complain and ask such a public sacritlee (sp?)?  Certainly not.

            I will conclude by saying to the Urbana public, that I expect at another time to lift the vail, and expose enormity of the measure upon them as tax payers, and point out that element in the Council that should be held responsible for it.  I have taken notes “and faith I’ll print ‘em.”

Wm. Patrick

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Unpuzzling the Past from Pieces of Gravestone Found at the Dean Cemetery in Buckskin Township, Ross County, Ohio

Scott and Venus Andersen continued their 2014 Spring clean up work today at the Dean Cemetery in Ross County

 They shared good news of their unexpected success in locating stone fragments that have now solved the mystery of the identity of a 10 year old boy who died in 1820.  The main gravestone of John Milton Hare had been broken.  Missing key pieces with his surname and death year had been long buried nearby.  Thanks to their probing work, some of those pieces were unearthed today. Thus, John Milton was really John Milton Hare!  

Notes from Scott:

"We spent a long day at the Dean Cemetery.

Burned a good portion of the brush from trees that were cut down last fall, but there is still a long way to go before that project will be complete.  I'd say there's at least another three days of work, just doing that.

Good news; we made another find.  I was cleaning up an area along the north fence line that has an old tree stump.  There had been a very large rotting log laying in this spot, and as I moved it, I noticed another little stone poking out of the ground.  A little brushing with a wisk broom revealed that it had carving on the face of it.
 
When I saw the carving on the stone, it immediately reminded me of one of the broken stones in the big pile at the middle of the yard.  This one has been a bit of a mystery, as only the left half of the stone existed, with the inscription;

John Milton
Son of Daniel and Sar
Died 22 Sep

I was never sure whether his last name was Milton, or if that was a middle name.
 
You can see in the photo that the stones match perfectly.  We dug further and found that the base of the stone is complete.

We got out the prober, and poked around the surrounding area, and found a few more pieces of the stone."
  
The stone's transcription is:
 
Son of Daniel and Sarah Hare
Died Sep 22 1820
in his 10 year
  


 (The photo above shows three unearthed pieces placed next to the main stone.) 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mary Courtright ( - 1841) - Find A Grave Memorial


Sharing this "Find A Grave" memorial for Mary Courtright who was buried at the Gray Cemetery in Madison Township, Franklin County, Ohio. 
 
Today, there are no stones left standing at the Gray Cemetery.  At some point, fragments of gravestones were cemented in one large upright tablet; a photograph of this tablet can be seen on the main cemetery page.  

Very small pieces of Mary Courtright's original monument are all that remains which were imbedded in the tablet with many other fragments from original gravestones that once stood at gravesites for those who are interred at the Gray Cemetery.  My thanks to Brent Nimmo for sharing this information.

Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force Meeting Minutes - April 28, 2014

(This is a draft report - it has a date of April 25, 2014; the correct date was April 28, 2014)

MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE
OHIO CEMETERY LAW TASK FORCE
77 S. High Street, 22nd Floor Hearing Room April 25, 2014
Columbus, OH 43215-6133 9:30 a.m.

_________________________________________________________________________
I. Preliminary Matters
 

Co-chair Noonan called the meeting to order.
 

Roll Call: Laura Monick conducted roll call.
Present: Daniel Applegate, Dr. John N. Low, Hon. Cory Noonan, Anne M. Petit, Patrick Piccininni, Jay 

Russell, David Snyder, James Turner, James Wright, Division Staff Attorney Laura Monick.
 

Excused: Hon. Keith G. Houts, Stephen George
 

Review of Meeting Minutes: Co-Chair Petit opened the floor for discussion of the minutes of the April 4, 2014 meeting of the Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force. There being no discussion Mr. Turner moved to approve the minutes of the April 4th meeting. Mr. Russell seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.
 

II. Old Business
 

Co-Chair Petit opened the floor for discussion of old business. Co-chair Petit noted the correspondence provided to the task force members as received from Kathy Flayler, Manager of WillowView Cemetery Association and from Marcus Winchester, the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. Dr. Low requested that the task force permit tribes to submit testimony as they are able to supply the testimony. The task force agreed to hold the historic tribal discussion until later in the summer.
 

Discussion began on the duties of the Ohio Historic Preservation Advisory Board; the involvement of American Indians on that Board; and the difference between state and federally recognized tribes. The task force concluded that their focus should be on human remains without regard to ancestry in order to achieve the equal protection and treatment of all human remains, cemeteries and burial grounds. Dr. Low recommended that the task force consider proposing the incorporation of NAGPRA into state law, which gained consensus.

Mr. Turner then requested that the task force mission, in crafting recommendations, should remember the relationship between Revised Code and Administrative Code. Specifically, that details sometimes considered for inclusion in law may be more appropriate in the administrative code. The incorporation of federal law into the administrative code enables updating as federal law is updated. It was the recommendation of Mr. Turner that the task force’s final recommendation should point out details that should be addressed through adoption of rules with discussion of impact; including the recommendation to incorporate NAGPRA by rule.
 

III. New Business
 

Co-chair Noonan brought the task force into new business and discussion began on definitions and reviewing terms as defined by other states.
 

The first term discussed by the task force was “abandoned.” Discussion commenced on a lack of ownership or funding versus using a timeframe for the definition and the differences expressed in other states that Attorney Monick has researched. The task force considered a definition similar to the state of New York with respect to generality and then adding some timeframes plus adequate maintenance. The task force then debated looking at abandonment from the point-of-view of legal abandonment, ownership issues, neglect
(maintenance issues), or preservation.
 

The task force then agreed to move into discussion revolving around three main groups:
 

upkeep/maintenance, groups of cemeteries, and protection. The first group discussed was maintenance and
upkeep. The task force looked at whether registered and inactive cemeteries should be considered separately.


Discussion commenced on proposed revisions of ORC 4767.09 concerning maintenance as proposed by the Division during its testimony. The task force considered adding subparagraph (F) with tentative language to include: “no cemetery, burial ground or burial site whether registered or unregistered will be permitted to
become a nuisance (threatens safety or welfare) as defined by applicable law”. With respect to “reasonable
maintenance” as written in the draft of ORC 4767.09, the task force clarified that a cemetery in a condition
that would rise to the level of a nuisance is not reasonable maintenance. Discussion continued on codifying
that Division staff could make nuisance referrals to local building authority with jurisdiction (see building
code). With those additions, the task force agreed that maintenance would be defined using the proposal in
ORC 4767.09. The idea was also proposed that the Division could offer an education program to cemeteries on record keeping.
 

The task force requested further research into nature preserves and green/natural burial definitions.
Co-chair Noonan excused himself at 12:20pm.
 

The task force then turned to the term “inactive.” The task force debated inactivity as it relates to the selling
of burial rights versus conducting internments and the purpose of defining inactive. Discussion then returned
to abandonment and whether there can be abandonment of occupation, use, or responsibility. The task force
then agreed that the definition of abandonment should include: failure to conduct operations and failure to
maintain reasonable management by either choice or circumstance. The task force requested that Co-chair
Petit and Ms. Monick work on drafting a definition of abandoned based upon meeting discussion and then
reach out to the Ohio Township Association and the Ohio municipal League for feedback on the draft
definition.


Finally, the task force began discussion of the definition for “human remains.” After debating the definitions
used by other states, the task force came to an agreement that the definition of human remains should
include: any part of the body of a deceased human being in any stage of decomposition or state of
preservation or a body that has been reduced by cremation or alternative disposition. The task force also
concluded that the definition of “cremated remains” and “alternative disposition remains” should mimic the
definitions from the state of Oregon and include: the remaining bone fragments from the body of a deceased
human being after the act of cremation or alternative disposition is completed. The Division will also work to
draft a definition of this term for consideration at the next meeting.
 

Next Meeting Dates:
 

May 16, 2014 at 9:30am
 

June 6, 2014 at 9:30am
 

IV. Adjournment
 

Mr. Piccininni moved to adjourn. Dr. Low seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pvt John Limes (1816 - 1887) - Find A Grave Memorial

Pvt John Limes (1816 - 1887) - Find A Grave Memorial

Sharing the Pvt. John Limes' "Find A Grave" memorial with May 5, 2014 new photograph of his gravestone.  It was cleaned with D2 Biological Solution in March of 2014; almost two months earlier by Scott Andersen.  

Thanking Scott for his work cleaning my great-great uncle's gravestone.

Daniel DePoy (1835 - 1929) - Find A Grave Memorial

Daniel DePoy (1835 - 1929) - Find A Grave Memorial

Thanking Scott Andersen for cleaning this magnificent monument.  The inscription is so much more readable now and the stone is clean after using only D/2 Biological Solution.  

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Grave concerns -- Editorial by the "Columbus Dispatch" Columbus, Ohio


This is an important "Columbus Dispatch" editorial appearing today in the newspaper and online. Click on the title to read the full editorial. 

Thanking the "Columbus Dispatch" for their support on behalf of all of Ohio's Cemeteries.  
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The deteriorating conditions at many of Ohio’s cemeteries have for too long been ignored.  In some cases, even local folks have no knowledge such old burying grounds exist in their communities because the aged overgrowth now badly obscures what remains of gravestones still standing in them.

Unfortunately in Ohio, to register a cemetery it has to have had burials in the past 25 years.  This is important to understand bcause only registered cemeteries can qualify for filing complaints against those who are responsible for their care to the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission who can address the problems from the state government level.  Thus, since inactive and abandoned cemeteries are not eligible to be registered, they are therefore not eligible for the same protections as are active cemeteries.  This discriminatory situation is just one example of many issues that severely affect the circumstances that particularly impact Ohio’s earliest and most vulnerable burial grounds where many of the Buckeye State’s pioneer settlers were laid to rest.

Thanks to the creation of the Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force there is new hope for the future of all of the state’s cemeteries.  I encourage anyone who has an interest to improve the conditions for Ohio’s cemeteries and its gravesites to either contact the co-chairs of the task force, or attend an upcoming Ohio Cemetery Task Force meeting.  Thank you.    

If you go to the Department of Real Estate’s website at: http://www.com.ohio.gov/real/default.aspx and place your cursor over “resources” at the top of the page you will see the information for the Task Force.

 The next Cemetery Law Task Force Meeting is scheduled for:

May 16, 2014 at 9:30 a.m.
77 South High Street, 22nd Floor Hearing Room
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force Co-Chairs:

Anne M. Petit, Superintendent
Ohio Department of Commerce
Division of Real Estate & Professional Licensing
Direct dial: 614-466-3411
Fax number: 614-644-0584
Office number: 614-466-4100

Anne.Petit@com.ohio.gov

And, 
Mr. Cory Noonan
Allen County Commissioner
Phone:   (419)228-3700