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, October 14, 2015

Sharing an Update from the Members of "Save the Shannon Cemetery" - Bluffton, Allen County, Ohio

Sharing some of the latest information from the "Save Shannon Cemetery" committee in Bluffton, Allen County, Ohio.  

The "Save Shannon Cemetery"organization has been working tirelessly during this past year to ensure that gravestones will be returned to their rightful gravesites at the Shannon Cemetery following their removal that was permitted by the leaders of the village of Bluffton.  

Recommendations sent to the Commander In Chief and Council of Administrations of the Sons Of Union Veterans of the Civil War by Bruce D. Frail, PDC, National Graves Registration Officer SUVCW. Copies were sent to us and Mayor Augsburger.

Office of the National Graves Registration Officer
Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
19 Briar Point Avenue, Coventry, Rhode Island 02816

To: Commander-In Chief & Council of Administration
Date: 12 October 2015
Re: Report on Shannon Cemetery and proposed plan

Dear Brothers,

      I have been in contact with all parties involved with the Shannon Cemetery issue, who would return my emails or phone calls. The issue that was brought to our attention on 24 August 2015 by Mr. Ray Mumma thru the SUVCW Executive Directors Office is stated as follows.

      The cemetery was determined to be an eyesore to the incoming visitors coming from Rte 75 and plans were made to remove the headstones and create a park/picnic area over the graves, which are not planned to be removed and relocated. This action has caused a desecration to the graves of all of those who had their headstones removed, but I will center my concerns the two graves of two brothers who gave their all during the American Civil War, William and Samuel Hipster.

      The brothers are buried in Row 8, Plots 05 & 04 respectfully and are not in an unknown location as the Mayor states in her conversation and emails; she also stated to me that the man Dick Boehr who started this whole problem logged the locations of the headstones as he removed them. Then, she has also stated that no one knows for sure where they really go, that they could have been moved before but she didn’t go into any detail.

      The people who have started the Friends of Shannon Cemetery/Save Shannon Cemetery Facebook group and contacted the SUVCW have their documents in order and offer them to all that wish to learn more about the desecration that is being committed by the Village of Bluffton in regards to Shannon Cemetery. I have talked with several other groups that support the Friends of Shannon Cemetery/Save Shannon Cemetery Facebook group and their plan to restore the cemetery to its original condition. I throw my support to them as well. They have been straight forward with their plan and haven’t attempted to deceive me in any way.

      I have an email from the Mayor to prevent meetings of the Commission in which members of the Friends of Shannon Cemetery/Save Shannon Cemetery Facebook group would be allowed to speak and to try to delay the Commission that she put in place, until after the election in November, in which she is running for office as Mayor. This is not a reelection as she was appointed by members of the council. The Shannon Cemetery Commission which was appointed by Mayor Augsburger consists of the following members: John Murray, Evan Skilliter, Fred Rodabaugh, Bob Amstutz, Nathan Ulrey, Sammuel Diller, Richard Boehr (the man who committed the desecration), Harriett Moyer, Jesse Blackburn (this man holds village employment at the pleasure of the Mayor and the council), David Steiner (the mayor’s former boss and current council president) and the mayor, the commission recorder is Paula Scott, the Commission has no representation from the Friends of Shannon Cemetery/Save Shannon Cemetery Facebook group. 

      The mayor told me in a telephone conversation that there was no approved project for any work at Shannon Cemetery, than about a week later she said in an email that the Shannon project was approved in 2013. She has also stated that there is no relevance to the cemetery project towards political issues, but as stated above she doesn’t think there will be a Commission meeting until after the election because of interruptions and outbursts from the public, personally, I don’t see how there is a difference in how to control a meeting whether it is held before or after a election. If there are no political issues tied to the cemetery project why can’t it be held prior to an election? The mayor has gone from someone who wishes to work with others to correct the issue to being defensive and paranoid over my use of information she was providing me as well as towards other groups that support Ray Mumma. She went from praising me for contacting her to get both sides to stating that she thinks I am feeding her answers to the Save Shannon Cemetery Facebook group, or Ray Mumma in particular because of my use of the word “desecration”.

      I informed her that I was not forwarding her answers to anyone and that her answers would only be used for the purpose of this report to the Council of Administration and that I would forward her a copy and I would do the same for Ray Mumma in the interest of fairness to both parties. I did reach out to Nathan Ulrey who was appointed the Chairman of the Shannon Cemetery Commission by the mayor, he choose not to reply to my attempts to hear the commission’s view.

      With the above background, I have the honor to submit my report and recommendations to the Commander-in-Chief and the Council of Administration of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

1. That the SUVCW draft a letter of support for the Friends of Shannon Cemetery/Save Shannon Cemetery Facebook group’s plan, as their plan will end the current desecration of the graves of Shannon Cemetery that have been striped of their headstone and return the proper identification to the graves within the cemetery.

2. That the SUVCW draft letters against the Village of Bluffton’s park project and the four groups that have been mentioned to be in support of this desecration, by Fred Steiner in his letter to local clergy dated 6 Oct 2015, to their National components, the four groups are as follows: Bluffton American Legion, Bluffton Boy Scouts, Bluffton Tree Commission and the Bluffton Chamber (the Chamber of Commerce has gone as far as to create an award to give to Dick Boehr for in part and as listed, “currently working developing Jefferson Street-Shannon Cemetery into a park” They gave this man an award for desecrating graves, how wrong is that.

3. Release a statement to the local and national press detailing this desecration and those who are pushing for its completion.

4. That the SUVCW file a written complaint with the Department of Veteran’s Affair’s of this disregard of their VA policy on the mis-use and removal of government headstones that has occurred at Shannon Cemetery, by the removal of three veteran’s headstone, two (2) Civil War and one (1) Rev War who was also a village founder.

      I am unaware of the true reason Dick Boehr has chosen to commit this unthinkable act of desecration or why the mayor and some other members of the community have also taken part, but I am against it and I believe the SUVCW should voice to our membership and to the general public, that this type of desecration will not be accepted. 

In Fraternity, Charity & Loyalty,
Bruce D. Frail, PDC
National Graves Registration Officer
Veteran USMC