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, January 27, 2016

Spotlighting Mary Keokee Monroe and her Memorial at Cleveland's Woodland Cemetery

Inviting you to visit the Facebook Page of Mary Keokee Monroe where you can learn more about her life and legacy.  
Jennifer Leder and her husband have been tending to Mary's gravesite at Cleveland's Woodland Cemetery for several years to honor her memory.  

They have restored it into a serene and respectful final resting place by adding fresh blooming flowers each season.  The gravesite is tenderly maintained by them; and it has become a befitting tribute to this young Cleveland girl who suffered a tragic early death 
150 years ago at the age of seventeen.  

 Photos below courtesy of Jennifer Leder

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Understanding the "25 Year Rule" vs. the "125 Year Rule" for Protecting Gravesites and Cemeteries in Ohio

Quoted from the "Columbus Dispatch" article titled: "Ancient Ohio sites lack state protection from archaeology scavengers" - Monday, January 11, 2016
 By Author: Earl Rinehart:

"Ohio law does not specifically protect graves at abandoned cemeteries, those on private land or unmarked burials older than 125 years, including Native American artifacts and remains thousands of years old. "
I was puzzled about the "older than 125 years" portion of that statement so I contacted the author and Mr. Bradley Lepper, Curator of Archaeology at the Ohio History Connection, who is mentioned in the news story.

Afterward, I heard from Mr. Lepper who so kindly referred me to Mr. Dave Snyder, Archaeology Reviews Manager, State Historic Preservation Office, who provided me with a wonderfully detailed answer with an attachment that I wish to share. 


But first, here was my question:

"I was wondering if the 125 years in the story's statement should be 25 years?  If not, do you happen to know what the source is for the story's statement?"    

I based my question on the following: 
 Ohio Revised Codes:

OHIO REVISED CODE – Selected Cemetery Law 155.04 Veteran’s Headstones (A) No trustee, association, corporation, or person in control of any cemetery or a public ...

(C) Sections 4767.02 to 4767.04 of the Revised Code do not apply to or affect a family cemetery or a cemetery in which there have been no interments during the previous twenty-five calendar years. As used in this division, "family cemetery" means a cemetery containing the human remains of persons, at least three-fourths of whom have a common ancestor or who are the spouse or adopted child of that common ancestor. 
My answer from Dave Snyder (January 21, 2016):

"From my understanding of how to apply Ohio laws to protect burials I have found that both 25 years and 125 years are important numbers.  That is, both of you are correct.  

There are different kinds of protection provided for under state laws with different state agencies having authority under different laws.  

For a cemetery that is active there are specific requirements for registration and maintenance.  The focal point for these requirements is at Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4747 where responsibility is assigned to the Ohio State Department of Commerce, Division of Real Estate and Professional Licenses.  The Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force recommended a number of changes that I believe take a constructive step to strengthen the Division’s authority to ensure appropriate care of graves in active cemeteries (including markers of veterans graves).  There is much more to do in Ohio to protect graves in active cemeteries, but from where I sit, I see this as a positive step forward.

Protecting graves in cemeteries that are not active is quite a different matter.  As you have noted in your blogs there is very much for Ohio to do to make sure that graves in abandoned cemeteries are protected.  Cemetery registration requirements convey the standard that after 25 years without an interment a cemetery is to be considered abandoned.

And in addition, there are many unmarked graves in Ohio, and most of these are places where American Indians were buried.  And here is where the law in Ohio brings in the 125 year standard.  Attached is a pdf of one of the court cases that upheld and strengthened this 125 year standard.  Although the 125 year standard applies to almost all unmarked American Indian burials, it also applies to all graves that are older than 125 years, even in active cemeteries.  The cemetery registration requirements provide for some protection of cemeteries and their markers, but do not provide much protection for the remains of the deceased.

Most people find grave robbing and grave desecration deplorable and repulsive.  Ohio’s law basically states that you have to be able to recognize the remains as the deceased in order to apply the laws prohibiting grave desecration.  That is, the laws protect the corpse of a recent burial, but after some time, when the corpse is no longer recognizable it is no longer a corpse and cannot be protected under Ohio laws.  Don’t get me wrong, I want to see the laws strengthened to better protect human remains and prevent the abuse of a corpse, but I also want to extend the laws in Ohio to protect human remains regardless of whether the remains can be defined under law as a corpse.

So, Ohio law does not protect American Indian burials – they are not corpses as defined under Ohio law, and they are not in marked graves in active or abandoned cemeteries as defined under Ohio law.  Ohio law prohibits trespass and vandalism – thus it isn’t a violation of the law to dig up American Indian burials, but it might be a minor violation if you trespass on property where you didn’t have permission to go and you vandalize a place where you didn’t have permission to dig.  

In the latter 19th century the Ohio courts were asked to define and clarify when a recent burial had so decomposed that it was no longer a corpse, and the courts came back with the 125 year standard.  

But the problem is not just that this leaves graves of American Indians without protection, now this applies to graves of many, almost all, veterans of the Civil War.  

It is now OK under Ohio law to dig up graves of Civil War veterans to take buttons and such as long as you don’t trespass or vandalize.  Putting all of this together, this is why so many of us are very much concerned by the 125 year standard and are working to get this changed and fixed.  But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t also concerned about caring for abandoned cemeteries and the problems that the 25 year standard brings to these issues.

I hope this is helpful in answering your question.

I very much appreciate your blogs and your advocacy for the protection of cemeteries."
David Snyder, Ph.D. | Archaeology Reviews Manager, State Historic Preservation Office
Ohio History Connection | 800 E. 17th Ave. Columbus, Ohio 43211

p. 614.298.2000 | f. 614.298.2037 | dsnyder@ohiohistory.org

Thanking Dave Snyder for answering my question and providing informative details that hopefully will help others also to better understand how these "25 year and 125 year rules" apply and affect Ohio's cemeteries and gravesites.  
Below are the pages from the pdf document  referenced in Mr. Snyder's reply:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

LCPL Jack Gene Enix (1948 - 1968) - Find A Grave Memorial

A fellow Lorain High School classmate of mine.  

Winfield Scott Limes (1875 - 1959) - Find A Grave Memorial

Sharing my "Find A Grave" memorial for my paternal grandfather, Winfield Scott Limes (AKA W.S. or Scott Limes).

#141 birthday today -- remembering you dear grandfather, and your life.  You enjoyed a great variety of hobbies and accomplished so much in your life with your work as a lather working in the State of Ohio to help build such wonderful buildings like the original Hotel Breakers in Sandusky, Ohio in 1905.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

An Introduction to the Ohio Dept. of Real Estate - Div. of Real Estate & Professional Licensing's Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission and their role with Registered Cemeteries in Ohio

Getting a start on understanding the role of the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission means reading more about it and its role regarding cemeteries in Ohio; more specifically REGISTERED cemeteries in Ohio (which EXCLUDES Unregistered cemeteries in Ohio)

The top photo shown below is a screen print of the various links available to browse through. The remaining documents can also be found on the Department of Real Estate's website.  

Mailing Address
Ohio Department of Commerce
Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing
77 South High Street, 20th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215-6133
Phone (614) 466-4100
Fax (614) 644-0584
E-Mail WebReal@com.state.oh.us
Check the Ohio Department of Real Estate's website often for "News & Reports" updates that pertain to Registered Cemeteries in Ohio.  

Below is a link to a News Release about Winter cemetery decoration guidelines:


Friday, January 15, 2016

Ancient Ohio sites lack state protection from archaeology scavengers

Ohio's most vulnerable cemeteries, its inactive and abandoned ones, are unregistered by the fact that there have been no burials in them for the past 25 years. Thus, as unregistered cemeteries, unlike their registered counterparts, they are ineligible for someone to register a complaint against those responsible for them. 

Ohio has untold number of lost and forgotten cemeteries that have been neglected for decades; some in rural areas, and some in village and urban areas. It becomes a matter of community pride, available financial resources, along with the ravages of time, weather, and vandalism that can take a once presentable looking cemetery with rows of neatly standing gravestones into one that is barely recognizable as a cemetery.

Here is a link to the 260 page report of recommendations submitted by the Ohio Cemetery Law Task Force which met monthly in 2014 that was submitted to the Governor of Ohio, The Ohio Speaker of the House, and the Ohio Senate President -- so we can see that there is so much more to this story that remains to be addressed and decided upon.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Sharing the Latest Update on Floral Hills Memory Gardens in Chillicothe, Ross County, Ohio

Floral Hills upkeep called a 'disgrace'


 Chris Balusik, Reporter for the "Chillicothe Gazette" January 10, 2016
Abstracted from online news story:

"A consumer protection lawsuit was brought against the owners in 2012 by the AG's office due to the high volume of similar complaints, and people have periodically banded together independently to perform maintenance on the property when they felt it was lacking. 
Robertson, who said the AG's office was only concerned with those who had spent money on products and services they had not received and not about the upkeep of the property, lauded those who have volunteered and said it's disgraceful they had to do the work themselves.

"No matter what we've got to do, we should make this right," Robertson said. 
"If you got some of the emails I've gotten, if you've seen some of the people I meet out there when I mow — we're talking 80-, 90-year-old men and women with push mowers in the trunk of their car trying to do anything they can to get it out of their car so they can mow their spouse's site. There's no sense in that."

Friday, January 8, 2016

Log In - Cleveland Cemeteries Association for the Cleveland Catholic Diocese

Log In

The online search and online store are currently available for the following cemeteries:
All Saints, Northfield
All Souls, Chardon
Calvary, Lorain
Holy Cross, Akron
Holy Cross, Brook Park
Resurrection, Valley City
St. Joseph, Avon
St. Mary, Elyria
St. Mary of the Falls
Elmhurst Park, Avon
Holy Trinity Avon
Work is ongoing at the following cemeteries:
Calvary, Cleveland
St. Mary, Cuyahoga Heights
St. Joseph, Cleveland
St. John, Cleveland
Assumption of Mary, Brook Park

Please enter your username and password. Register if you don't have an account.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Ordering U. S. Government Headstones for Deceased Veterans including Those from Pre-1917 Wars

(Photo above from Linda Jean Limes Ellis collection)
Date: January 5, 2016
From:  Mr. Bruce D. Frail
National Graves Registration Officer at Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
Providence, Rhode Island Area Research

"The VA has tightened their control over who can order government headstones. But, it can be done. The easiest way is to do a Next of Kin (NOK) search to see if you can locate a NOK. If you can, ask them to fill out the paperwork or write a letter to the VA stating who they are and that they give you or your group the right to act on their behalf to order the headstone. You will still need to get supporting documents, i.e. copies of actual military or pension records, these need to be the records not transcriptions of records and you will need to have someone to sign for the headstone when it is delivered and you will need someone from the cemetery or cemetery land owner to state they will allow the headstone to be installed. 

If you are ordering for someone whose service ended prior to 1917 it gets a little easier"

".....a letter from the VA to a Congressman's office stating that the VA will allow people other than the NOK to order for older veterans, i.e Pre-1917 which should be included with the application for a headstone.  

It is our hope that all people who wish to work on the graves of others outside of their family would try to locate NOK to get permission before touching the grave site." 

(Letter below provided by Mr. Bruce D. Frail)


Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War National Headquarters:

National Graves Registration