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."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Ohio WPA Cemetery Plat Maps -- Where Are They Now?

The Works Progress Administration (later renamed in 1939 as the "Works Projects Administration") -- is often abbreviated and known simply as the "WPA" -- was created and existed during the years of the Great Depression to help put Americans back to work.  

"Interment.net" provides a comprehensive historical account of the  Works Progress Administration; its purpose, timeline, and list of accomplishments that gives the researcher a good start in understanding the types of records we have today because of these programs.  

A critical element to be aware of that impacts a search for Ohio's WPA Cemetery Plat Maps is that after they were drawn and completed, the maps were then deposited at each Ohio County Recorder's Office for their individual county.  Over the decades, unfortunately, due to space constraints and other issues, these maps in many Ohio counties now are kept elsewhere; so the question is:  "Where are They Now?" 

The WPA Cemetery Plat Map pages are larger size and were bound in heavy volumes making them difficult to handle and store.  In Allen County, for example, there are over 100 pages of WPA Cemetery plat maps.  There could be two or even three cemetery maps on one page if the cemeteries are small.  Conversely, for larger cemeteries, several map pages would be required to be drawn to illustrate the sections of the cemetery.  Also, the names of the veterans buried at a cemetery were included on the map page. A key was included on the map page that explains the number code by the veteran's name to identify his burial location at the cemetery and the name of the war he served in, if known.     

So it is that I have been working since July of 2013 to locate the WPA Cemetery Plat Maps for each Ohio County.  As most of us know Ohio has 88 counties so it required contacting each county individually; and in some counties, calling and/or emailing several county government offices (i.e. - Recorder, Engineer, Tax Map, Veterans' Office, County Archives if there is one) and/or libraries, historical, and genealogical societies, before it is discovered where a county's WPA Cemetery Plat Maps are now located.  

Unfortunately, however, in thirteen counties (see listing below) the location where their WPA Cemetery Plat Maps are located today still remains a mystery even after exhausting all of the logical contact choices mentioned above.  It doesn't necessarily mean the cemetery maps don't exist; it just means I haven't found them yet! 

During my investigations, I learned also that there is no one repository that holds all of the WPA Cemetery Plat Maps for each of Ohio's Counties. For example, Ohio Historical Society just recently acquired the Franklin County WPA Cemetery Plat Maps.     


On a related issue,  many of you may know, as a companion to the WPA Cemetery Plat Maps, the Veterans' Graves Registration Cards were created for individual veterans.  Today, these individual veteran's grave cards can still be foundat most Ohio Recorder's Offices and/or county veterans' offices.  

The Ohio Historical Society does have the veterans graves registration cards in their collection.  A wonderful website for these graves registration cards is in its beginning stages to be online accessible through the Ohio Memory ProjectClick here to access  their "Graves Registration Cards" collection.  A paragraph entitled:  "About this Collection" also explains Ohio-specific details.   Currently, this online collection is only up to the letter "B", however.  

"The Graves Registration Cards Collection is made up of digitized versions of the graves registration cards from State Archives Series 183 at the Ohio Historical Society. This series, created by the Ohio Adjutant General's Department, includes records of soldiers in every war from the Revolutionary War until World War II."   

Below is a sample veteran's grave registration card for Samuel Crooks who was buried at the Limes Cemetery AKA Sheep Pen or Gustin Cemetery: 


Please note, the alphabetical listing by county of the WPA Cemetery Plat Maps and contact information regarding them, if known, for their current location, is now shown on this blog on its own Page entitled:  

"Ohio WPA Cemetery Plat Maps - Location of Maps Listed Alphabetically by County Name".  

The PAGES heading is on the blog's right-hand column.  


The counties where the location of their WPA Cemetery Plat Maps remain missing are listed below:



Below is the title page for the "Veterans Graves Registration" project.  Also, below the title page is the WPA Cemetery Plat Map page of the Auglaize Cemetery in Auglaize Township, Allen County, Ohio to help illustrate what a typical WPA Cemetery Plat Map page looks like.