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."

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Salem and Rush Twps. service levies | Springfield, OH News

“Townships are mandated to provide for the care and maintenance of over 2,400 cemeteries in Ohio and must find the funds to care for the cemeteries,” 
said Rep. Doug Green, R-Mount Orab.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

6 Tri-State townships asking for a levy to fund cemetery maintenance | Local News - WLWT Home


A post was published on this blog on September 11, 2014 that is pertinent to this news story: 

"Ohio House Bill 576 - A Step in the Right Direction for Funding Maintenance Expenses at Township Cemeteries"


Ohio House Bill 576 -- "To amend section 5705.19 of the Revised Code to lengthen the maximum term of a property tax levied for the purpose of operating a cemetery."
From Heidi M. Fought of the Ohio Township Association (OTA):

"The bill will allow townships to place upon the ballot a request for a continuous levy as opposed to just a 5 year levy.  The OTA supports this legislation and worked with the sponsor before introduction.  We are hoping to get this bill out during lame duck this fall and if not, passed next spring."
"The benefit to a township would be that they wouldn’t have to go back to the ballot every 5 years to renew a cemetery levy.  It would simply  be a continuous levy.  That is all the bill does.  We like it because cemetery maintenance is a mandated responsibility and so this provides a stable source of revenue should a township seek to put on this type of levy."
"If this bill should pass, a township would have the option of placing a 5 year OR continuous levy on the ballot.  If the bill doesn’t pass, a township would still have the ability to place a 5 year levy on the ballot."
Heidi M. Fought
Director of Governmental Affairs
Ohio Township Association
6500 Taylor Road, Suite A
Blacklick, OH 43004
(614) 863-0045
(614) 863-9751 Fax

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Taking an Autumn Stroll Through Lorain's Elmwood Cemetery -- October 27, 2014

Sharing some photographs taken Monday, October 27, 2014 at Lorain's Elmwood Cemetery.  

Elmwood Cemetery (formerly known as Highland Cemetery) in Lorain, Ohio contains three famous burials: 

Charles Joseph Berry, World War II Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient -- the bascule bridge in Lorain was named in his honor; famous poet, Helen Steiner Rice; and Seward Henry Williams, "US Congressman. Elected to represent Ohio's 14th District in the United States House of Representatives, he served from 1915 to 1917. He also served as a Member of the Ohio State Legislature."
 16,620 interments are listed for Elmwood Cemetery on "Find A Grave", and it is 79% photographed.  
Included among the photographs below are views of a short row of trees that stand out for their display of mid-Autumn's vibrant colors: 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Maple Grove Cemetery - Fredericktown, Knox County, Ohio - Walking Tour - Saturday, October 25, 2014 - 10:30a.m. to Noon

Maple Grove Cemetery in Fredericktown, Knox County, Ohio is also known by the names of Old Fredericktown Cemetery or Harmony Churchyard.  

where 302 interments are listed for it on the website.
Please see all of the details about the Maple Grove Cemetery Walking Tour presented in the event poster below:

Friday, October 17, 2014

Reminder: Tomorrow is Find A Grave's "Global Cemetery Meet Up Day"

If you are a member of "Find A Grave" then you may already be aware that tomorrow, October 18, 2014, is its "Global Cemetery Meet Up Day"

Excerpted from "Find A Grave":
"Do your part for history. 
Help preserve your local cemetery.

Attend this special event or plan one of your own. 
Visit a cemetery in need to take photographs and videos of headstones, explore the grounds, and share stories and discoveries with others who want to make a difference. 
With your thoughtful contributions, history will never be forgotten."
"Use #FGDay to post your pictures and videos to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter."

Read through the steps to learn how to participate
There are 113 "Find A Grave" communities listed.  

Friday, October 10, 2014

"Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force - Task Force Report & Recommendation - 29 September 2014" ~~ & Offering My Thoughts

The Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force committee has now concluded their year of monthly meetings reviewing the topic of the Ohio Revised Codes that pertain to Ohio's cemeteries.  

The task force's entire report is now posted on the Department of Real Estate's website

Click HERE to link directly to their report and recommendations.

The report includes a listing of the dates of the monthly meeting schedule,scanned in copies of the monthly meeting minutes (draft versions) and testimonies from those who attended meetings and presented them on behalf of organizations they represented, and the names of the task force members and the organizations they represented.

The Remaining Major Categories (from the "Executive Summary"):
Executive Summary
Task Force Mandate, Mission and Vision
Task Force Process Overview
Stakeholders Represented and Statements Given
Recommendations for Legislative Initiatives

 The statement below is excerpted from the "Executive Summary":

"Task Force members were as diverse as the stakeholders that provided insightful information on the past, present, and future of cemeteries. During the many multifaceted discussions held by the Task Force one tenet became clear and was a driving force in the meetings: All burial sites and human remains, regardless of historic period or culture, deserve the same level of protection and respect. In following that tenet this report was crafted."

Below is a further break down from Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force's Report - Page 3:

"During discussions, central categories were identified and then used as a guide for deliberations":

1) Definitions

2) Preservation and Protection

3) Registration, Record Keeping and Technology

4) Maintenance

5) Enforcement

6) Funding

7) Statutory Alignment

8) Protected Groups

 Excerpted from the Task Force Report - Page 15:

"4. The Task Force considered the feasibility of defining “inactive” cemeteries and requiring a registration process; however, it was determined that this could be problematic for lack of interested parties with sufficient interest to pay fees or be responsible for registration under existing  codes or rules."

My written testimony submitted February 2, 2014:

From: Linda Jean Limes Ellis

Sent: Sunday, February 02, 2014 4:52 PM

To: Petit, Anne; corynoonan12@gmail.com

Subject: RE: Exploring almost forgotten gravesites in Ohio

To Anne and Cory,

I am writing to you both, as co-chairs of the Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force, on behalf of Ohio's inactive and abandoned cemeteries.

Ohio's earliest cemeteries have become the state's most endangered burial grounds due to their age.  So many have fallen victim to vandalism, and neglect of care to the point that they are hardly recognizable as cemeteries today.

Unfortunately,  inactive and abandoned cemeteries are not granted the same status as active cemeteries and are not registered in Ohio under the current laws.  As I am sure you both know, complaints can only be filed to the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission regarding registered cemeteries; which leaves the rest of Ohio's cemeteries out of the process. Surely, changes can be made to include them as well so all of Ohio's cemeteries are afforded the same protection.

Too much Ohio history has been lost and what is left needs to be preserved and saved.

Thank you for reading my message.  I appreciate your consideration of my appeal on behalf of Ohio's inactive and abandoned cemeteries for the reasons cited above.

I would be pleased to hear from you.  I wish you both and the Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force great success with its work and ultimate recommendations.


Linda Ellis

My Thoughts:

Thus, I am indeed saddened to know that, in the end, the Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force members were not able to agree to conclude their work by adhering to their stated tenent that "All burial sites and human remains, regardless of historic period or culture, deserve the same level of protection and respect. "  

Their report did not include any recommendation to Ohio's Governor, Senate President, Speaker of the House, and the Ohio General Assembly, to recognize that inactive cemeteries need to be registered, just as active ones are registered, which would ensure that all of Ohio's cemeteries are at the same level of importance for such purposes as providing protection which includes the filing of official complaints against those who have neglected them, and restoring respect to the gravesites of the Buckeye state's earliest pioneers that have for too long been lost and forgotten.

Please, Keep Exploring Almost Forgotten Gravesites in Ohio, keep photographing gravestones, keep transcribing gravestone inscriptions and epitaphs, and keep documenting the historical facts about the lives of those who are buried at the cemeteries you visit.  Your efforts are appreciated, and your work will live on despite the defeat that inactive cemeteries have once again suffered to gain equal status with their active counterparts.  

Thank you.   

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hillsboro Cemetery, Hillsboro, Highland County, Ohio and Understanding Its Active Yet Unregistered Status

Taking a look today at the Hillsboro Cemetery in Hillsboro, Highland County, Ohio which is operated by a private cemetery association.  

The Hillsboro Cemetery is an active cemetery, however, a currently un-registered one.  These are important points to remember especially when negative issues arise impacting a cemetery's care and/or condition and direct action is likely to be needed to resolve the situation.

If there are unresolved issues at a cemetery that is not registered, then complaints cannot be filed against the owners/operators of that cemetery, via an official Cemetery Complaint Form, with the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission.  

Only registered cemeteries are eligible, per the Ohio Department of Commerce's regulations based on the Ohio Revised Codes, which state the types of cemeteries where complaints can be filed against those responsible for their ongoing care, deteriorating conditions, or with regard to other negative issues.
Thus, even if a cemetery is deemed to be active but if it is currently not registered, then no complaints can be filed against those responsible for its maintenance, etc. with the Ohio Department of Commerce's  Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission.
**"Pursuant to ORC 4767.03, registrations expire annually on June 30th"

**"However, registrations for cemeteries maintained by political subdivisions do not expire.
 Please read the message from Laura Monick below regarding this issue -- thanking Laura for her help with my questions.  

From: "Monick, Laura"
Sent: Monday, October 6, 2014 8:21 AM Subject:
RE: Asking a question regarding the Hillsboro Cemetery in Hillsboro, Highland County, Ohio

"I have looked up Hillsboro Cemetery in our system.  Currently, this is an unregistered cemetery.  We have already attempted to reach out to the association to bring them into compliance with the registration requirements.  However, ORC 4767.07 only permits us to take complaints against cemeteries that are registered.  While we work with the cemetery on the registration process we are unable to open a complaint."

You may look-up registered cemeteries here: 

The system allows you to search by city and zip code.  The prefix on the license number that you would be interested in are as follows:

CEO – cemetery operator
CRC – cemetery associations
CBR – religious/benevolent/fraternal cemeteries
CGR – political subdivision cemeteries

Pursuant to ORC 4767.03, registrations expire annually on June 30th

However, registrations for cemeteries maintained by political subdivisions do not expire. "
Laura A. Monick Registration and Resolution Section Chief 
Ohio Department of Commerce Ohio 
Division of Real Estate & Professional Licensing 
77 South High Street, 20th Floor Columbus, OH 43215 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Straightening Up the Stones During History Day 2014 at the Old Burying Ground in Greenfield, Ohio

On Saturday, October 4, 2014, the Old Burying Ground in Greenfield, Highland County, Ohio was the site of hands-on demonstrations that illustrated how some types of gravestone restoration are done.  That resulted in 12 gravestones being raised and straightened upright.  Some stones had been leaning, while others were knocked down, or partially sunken out of sight.  

The before and after photographs below are courtesy of Scott Andersen, who along with fellow Greenfield Historical Society member John King, did the needed digging work to complete the process for each gravestone.  

One gravestone that was lifted up out of its sinking condition belongs to Civil War veteran Martin Countryman.  It was so gratifying to learn of their success in rising this veteran gravestone back up to its proper position of respectability where it belonged.  
 Click HERE for more photographs from this work completed on October 4, 2014 as posted on the Greenfield Historical Society website.
Thanking Scott also for sharing photographs of  badly damaged above ground vaults belonging to some local Irwin family members which are also posted below.  

One of the vaults holds the final remains for Henry W. Irwin, who along with all of his four wives -- including his fourth wife Lavina/Lavinia Rogers Jackson Irwin  -- were buried at the Old Burying Ground.  Her mother was Priscilla Beals Rogers who was buried at the nearby Sheep Pen Cemetery. 

Henry W. Irwin and Lavina/Lavinia Irwin were the parents of one of Greenfield's most well known military heroes -  Admiral Noble Edward Irwin

Before photograph: Shows how the leaning gravestones and one that is lying flat on the ground looked before Scott Andersen and John King started their work.
After photograph: Shows how the same gravestones seen above look after they were repaired and straightened up.
The partially sunken Martin Countryman gravestone as it appeared prior to being dug up and re-set at the proper height.  It has a large stone base attached to it.
Photographs showing badly damaged above ground vaults.  
The middle vault is thought to belong to Henry W. Irwin.
Three deteriorating burial vaults. 
The small stone in front is for Eleanor Irwin, wife of Jared.  

Close up view of the front of the vault that may belong to Henry W. Irwin
Close up view of another badly damaged vault.