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, 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.