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, June 27, 2014

How My Antiquing Adventure Turned into an Unexpected Tombstone Discovery

A successful summer trip for me would include researching at local libraries, looking for local artifacts at antique stores, and of course, walking through local cemeteries.  

What I don't expect would happen, though, is to find a tombstone sitting on the floor at an antique store!  But, that is exactly what did happen to me this past weekend in Wellington, Ohio! 

I photographed the mystery tombstone, and below are the pictures: 



This beautiful old double tablet white marble gravestone appears to be original for brother and sister, George D. and Lucy L. Stedman who died as children in 1861 and 1862, respectively.  Unfortunately, there is a heavy amount of cement encasing the back of the whole stone, and part of a red brick was attached to the top center suggesting that the marker was once part of a structure; in a wall perhaps at the Stedman family home?  There was no price tag on it, thankfully, and no one in the store knew why it was there. 

When I got home, I started my search on "Find A Grave" for George D. and Lucy L. Stedman.  I discovered that brother and sister, George and Lucy, and their parents, George S. and Lucy, and their brother, Charles M. Stedman, were all buried at the Spencer Cemetery in Medina County, Ohio.  So, I was pleased to learn where they were resting in peace and that they were with their family.  But, I noted no gravestone photographs are posted for any members of the Stedman family.
At this point, I knew I had to contact a Spencer Township Trustee about George D. and Lucy L. Stedman to learn if there are, indeed, gravestones at their gravesites at the Spencer Cemetery.
Fortunately,  I found Spencer Township trustee, Mr. Scott Neptune, and Mr. Tom Brown, who also works at the Spencer Cemetery.  Both were of great help with answering my questions.  
Thanking Tom Brown for visting the gravesites of the Medina County Stedman family and for taking photographs of the tall four-sided dark gray granite monument that includes all of their names. 
(See Tom Brown's pictures below)

Questions remain where the children's original stone was located for so many years.  Perhaps it was kept at the Stedman family homestead and was saved prior to its demolition? 
And, what about its future, if that can be known at this point, for this beautifully carved original marble gravestone for a brother and sister who died so young and so long ago.  

Sharing a Newsnet5.com Story about 18,000 Unclaimed Remains Buried in Unmarked Graves at the Highland Park Cemetery in Highland Hills, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

Click HERE to read this sad news account about some of the burials at the Highland Park Cemetery in Highland Hills, Cuyahoga County, Ohio

It is posted online today and written by Kristin Volk of TV Channel 5 - Newsnet5.com - in Cleveland, Ohio.
The story reveals almost inconceivable facts about 18,000 people who had died in or near Cleveland, Ohio.  How no one came forward or could be found to step up and claim their bodies.  Reading the details should stop us in our tracks and make us shake our heads; and hang our heads and cry with deep sorrow.  

Watching the short yet profound video forces us to contemplate just how truly lost these souls became after their death -- prompting us to question how they could have met such a lonely forgotten end as they did. 

In the video, we see names imprinted on some of the tiny white cardboard boxes that hold their cremated remains.  Some of their names are even mentioned aloud as the reporter continues her account of what we are witnessing while some of the 24 boxes of cremated human remains scheduled for burial that day were being set down one-by-one, by the hands of a stranger who never knew them, into a single dug out plot of ground.  We realize some are identified and are not among the unknowns -- we hope their names are at least in the cemetery's written records if nothing else. 

We are told there will be no marker above ground for them.

The story is emphatic that the searches were exhaustive to locate living people who are relatives or others who would claim these bodies.

 Yet, in my opinion, the story is sparse in specifics to explain how the exhaustive searches were conducted.  What steps were taken?  Were their names published in the newspaper before being buried?  Were funeral homes contacted asking about them; and asking if any had pre-need funeral arrangements for themselves that no one knew about?  

I personally feel there are a lot of details missing that need to be shared to help me understand how it happened that departed souls, that number in the thousands, were lost and relegated to an obscurity they most likely never considered would be their fate after they drew their final breath. 

Surely, something can be done to ensure that no one has to meet an end of life situation where their remains are left to be forgotten and buried in a mass unmarked grave simply because there is no one to claim them or care they died.