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."

Monday, November 28, 2016

Utilizing Both "Billion Graves" and "Google Local Guides" Leads to Better Locating and Documenting Obscure Cemeteries & Sharing Results with Other Researchers

I am pleased to share information and links from Kerry Porter who enjoys "raising awareness of obscure cemeteries" -- And she is doing a great job of it! 

Sharing information from Kerry about the advantages of using both "Billion Graves" and "Google Local Guide" programs:

"A quick summary of why I use Billion Graves is quite simply that it helps me the best to find obscure cemeteries while on the road and document them efficiently. When I first started many years ago Find A Grave did not have a mobile app and was completely archaic in its ability to document and upload photos of cemeteries. Billion Graves is free. Billion Graves offers a great system that I have thoroughly enjoyed using and has never presented any problems for me.  

The find a cemetery feature of the app is the main way in which I locate obscure cemeteries in the country that are otherwise not known to sites such as Google. While locating and finding many of these obscure locations I do make a point to add the locations to Google maps to better help genealogy researchers and other people find them more efficiently. 

If you enjoy visiting and locating cemeteries the way I do I really recommend joining the Google Local Guide program which will help you better document and preserve the cemetery; it is through Google for general public knowledge that is better access by anyone."

"The Google Local Guide program is a fantastic free program offered by Google in which you can update, review, and even add new locations to the official Google Map and search engines.  I am a member of this program, and use it with my smartphone to update information on obscure historic cemeteries, and even add them to the Google Map to help other genealogy researchers find obscure cemeteries. 

Many older cemeteries are not on the Google Maps and this makes it harder for people to locate and research using the internet. There are also rewards with this program for frequent use, not to mention the great satisfaction of Simply helping other people. 

If you enjoy visiting cemeteries and have a SmartPhone, I highly recommend joining this program so you too can help document and share information about the cemeteries to the public." 

Kerry is also posting her cemetery and gravestone photographs on "Instagram." 
Thanking Kerry for sharing her useful tips that enable other researchers to also better locate, document, and share information about Ohio's obscure cemeteries that might otherwise remain lost and forgotten! 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Spotlighting the Ohio History Connection As a Cemetery Preservation Resource

The Ohio History Connection (formerly: Ohio Historical Society) has a dedicated page on its website for cemetery preservation.  
It is found under the category sub-heading of: 
The "Ohio Historic Inventory Form" is also worth learning more about and its importance for completing and having as a record for a cemetery in Ohio.   
Sue Tietz can be contacted to learn more about the "I-form":

Susan Tietz, Survey and National Register Manager

Administers the National Register of Historic Places program in Ohio, and manages the Ohio Historic Inventory, and Ohio Archaeological Inventory.

The Ohio History Connection holds genealogy workshops during the year; and some include cemetery themed presentations.
The 2017 schedule is now posted online, and a cemetery related presentation is scheduled in July. Pre-registration is required.:
"Finding and Restoring an Early Holmes Country, Ohio Farm Cemetery"
"Have you driven by a cemetery and seen the headstones off their bases and scattered throughout the cemetery and thought “Somebody should restore this cemetery.” Diane Druback and her husband did just that restoring the cemetery of his third great grandparents.
Come and hear the fascinating story of how they used genealogical records, patents, track books, and plat maps to locate the Lowe Cemetery.
Once they found it, they encountered cows using it as a pasture, which had knocked down all the tombstones.
Discover their detective work as they repaired the headstones and matched them to their original locations. Speaker: Diane Druback
Date: July 22, 2017
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Location: Ohio History Center
Cost: $15.00 Ohio History Connection or FCGHS members, $20.00 non-members, pre-registration recommended"
Thanking the Ohio History Connection and its Preservation Office for their ongoing endeavors that bring more awareness and education about Ohio's cemeteries, and the great need that exists to better protect and preserve them.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Concerned and Caring Teenager Sets a Great Example when He Sets Out to Restore an Abandoned Family Graveyard

Sharing this heartwarming story of Jamison Neal, a junior at Piketon High School, in Pike County, Ohio.  Along with his father, Steve, Jamison took on the project of clearing away the tall overgrowth that had overtaken the gravestones at a small family cemetery known as the Chenoweth Cemetery. 

So, please Click HERE to read the full story and learn just how much of a positive difference one person can make when they follow through with a plan that brings awareness to the plight of a cemetery in need, even one that has been neglected for a long time.  
I'm sure we'll be hearing more good news about this once forgotten cemetery because of the labor of love work Jamison and his father Steve did that restored respect and preserved it.

There is also one outstanding gravestone photo request for an infant named, John B. Chenoweth, who was born on September 25, 1836 and who died January 10, 1837.  
If his grave marker is found and photographed, the picture can be added to his "Find A Grave Memorial." 

Friday, November 18, 2016

What Happens When Cemetery Levies Fail? You Have to Get Creative!

Sharing a report of this sad outcome for the Brookfield, Trumbull County, Ohio cemeteries after the levies for them failed following this last election.  

"Brookfield Voters Reject Levies for Cemeteries and Parks" appeared in the "Sharon Herald" on November 9, 2016 (Sharon, Pennsylvania) the day after the election.  

"BROOKFIELD – With nearly 4,000 votes tallied, two half-mill levies for parks and cemeteries were defeated in Brookfield.
Voters turned down the permanent cemeteries maintenance levy and the 5-year renewable parks maintenance levy about 60 percent to 40 percent.
Together, if passed, the levies would have put an additional $124,000 a year into the township’s finances and allow for needed repairs and upkeep at Brookfield Cemetery along Route 7 near state Route 82; at Payne’s Corners, a smaller cemetery the township owns; and at the park on the village green."

On October 24, 2016 a pre-election article was published entitled:  "Wanted: Money for Park, Cemetery -- Brookfield Township Propose Levies to Cover Necessary Maintenance Costs"  by Sandy Scarmack, head writer of the Sharon Herald.

"BROOKFIELD – Township trustees in Brookfield say they literally have nowhere else to go but to ask the residents for some money to keep up the park and the cemetery.
On Nov. 8, two levies will be on the ballot, asking taxpayers if they will agree to a half-mill tax, which is about $70 per household, to shine up the park and provide perpetual care for the cemetery. Each half mill will add $62,000 to the budget. Together, if passed, the levies would put an additional $124,000 a year into the township’s finances and allow for needed repairs and upkeep that is out of reach now, according to Trustee Dion Magestro.
Both areas are important, he said, but the maintenance at the cemetery is a state requirement that cannot be ignored. 
“We are obligated to provide two things as township officials. Roads and cemeteries. We don’t have to have a police department or a fire department. Everything else could go away, but we have to take care of those two things per the Ohio Revised Code,” he said.
The street department does its best to maintain the cemetery, but still there are headstones toppled over, rust on the chapel doors and grass that’s a bit too high most of the time, Magestro said. The only income for the cemetery is the sale of the plots and the fees for burials. In 2015, that came to $38,000. Maintenance costs were $85,000, he said.
Going back three years, there has been a deficit of about $23,000 every year between income and expenses. With a half-mill tax, the money would be used to make up that difference and to start a separate cemetery fund to ensure perpetual care. Magestro said he isn’t sure people understand that the township is responsible for “hundreds of years of maintenance” at the cemetery along Route 7 near state Route 82 and also at Payne’s Corners, a smaller cemetery the township owns. 
“People don’t give much thought to that kind of stuff when they’re young and healthy,” he added.
As for the park, he considers that Brookfield’s “diamond in the rough” because it’s a pretty place, but time and Mother Nature have worn down some of its better features. For example, Jenny Junction, a children’s play area, has fallen into disrepair, Magestro said. It was dedicated in 2000 to the memory of Jennifer Lynn Boley, a 14-year-old struck and killed by lightning at the park in 1995. 
Other glaring problems, he said, are picnic tables that are peeling apart, buckled pavement and flooded baseball fields. Magestro credits the Brookfield Youth Association with pitching in money every year for taking care of the fields, but care of the park runs an average of a $50,000 deficit every year.
He’d also like to add a security system, he added.
The half-mill levy for the park would be in effect for only five years, he added. “Hold us accountable. Make sure we do what we say we will. If we don’t keep it in tip-top shape, rescind the levy,” he said.
“In Ohio, as trustees, we don’t have the option of just raising taxes. We have to go to the people, and that’s how it should be. But like I always say, if you don’t vote, then you don’t have the option of complaining,” he said."
I sent an email to the Brookfield Township Trustees and received a reply from Dion Magestro:
"...all of the trustees here genuinely share the same concern with our obligations.We know where said obligations ... will continue to work vehemently towards those goals. Thank you for reaching out to us. We will be putting together a plan to ask for donations or asked to be remembered in peoples wills when that time comes. This is an ongoing problem that we will continue to try and mitigate."
Some of my suggestions included working to bring about increased awareness of the plight of the cemeteries under their care through the media and with local genealogical and historical groups.  Getting more like-minded people who care about their community cemeteries together to volunteer in various capacities will ensure that the local cemeteries will not be forgotten.  
Also, check with the county tourism bureau to learn about obtaining grant money funding for needed repairs at a cemetery that has potential for being the site of historical tours.  
Brookfield Township has a great website!: 

Monday, November 7, 2016

More Preservation Progress Made at the Old Burying Ground in Greenfield on November 6, 2016

Sharing work-in-progress photographs, courtesy of Michael Anderson, who also participated in the November 6th restoration session held at the Old Burying Ground in Greenfield, Highland County, Ohio 
From the website of the Greenfield Historical Society:


Volunteer Session - November 6, 2016
"A beautiful day as Scott and Venus Andersen, John King, Mike Anderson, Harold Schmidt, Jackie Doles, and Jim Thompson spent a few hours at the Old Burying Ground continuing to repair gravestones. Work began at noon and lasted until around 3 p.m. on Sunday, the 6th of November. Various stones were straightened and re-aligned.

Many thanks to ALL the volunteers who helped this day and those who have volunteered throughout the duration of this very successful project."
Below are photographs of an arched stone piece and a close up view of it that will be added to the Joseph and Mary Robinson double monument that had needed resetting. Reattaching its finial at the top will finish the work. 

In order for the step-by-step process to be properly completed, only a few days prior, Jay Hardy of Hardy Memorials in Greenfield, re-leveled the base for this large multi-piece monument to prepare it for the rest of the work that needed to be completed by the volunteers.

Photographs taken during that preparatory work can be viewed on the Facebook Page for the Greenfield Historical Society.
After the twin columns were added to the monument
Cleaning the top of a box tomb
Scott Andersen and Jackie Doles
Scott Andersen and John King
working on re-leveling the well-preserved stone marker, so beautifully carved in 1839, for a young Matthew Kilgore.
Two more photos shown below:
 (Below two photos)
Working on a box tomb with a shattered top

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Spotlighting the George S. and Lucy Stedman Family Buried at the Spencer Cemetery in Medina County, Ohio

On a pleasant Sunday afternoon in June of 2014 I decided to visit a Lorain County antique store.  As I walked inside I was immediately stunned by the sight of an artifact not normally found in a resale shop.  There leaning against the wall by the front door was a beautiful original marble double gravestone for two children.  

Sadly, however, the stone’s reverse side was heavily encased in cement with some embedded red bricks.  Fortunately the gravemarker’s front surface was intact. The skillfully carved early 1860s inscriptions were quite clear and readable.  As I drew closer to linger by it, I was touched to see the matching carved lambs facing one another with the words “At Rest” engraved below them.  I did not notice a price tag attached.  So, before I started shopping, I called over the store clerk and asked questions to try to learn more details about this grave marker. 

I was told that this lovely gravestone for the children whose names were inscribed on it as: George D. Stedman (Born May 28, 1852 – Died August 8, 1861) and Lucy L. Stedman (Born November 20, 1853 – Died January 27, 1862) Children of George S. and Lucy Stedman, was rescued from a storefront building in downtown Wellington, Ohio, where it had been removed.  The reason for its removal was not given.  They thought the previous owners of the stone were thinking of throwing it away; so thankfully that did not happen.

Since I am a cemetery preservation and gravestone conservation advocate, I could not just leave the store and forget about that original grave marker.  Also, before leaving, I took photographs of it from different angles.  I was eager to start researching the names of the children and learn more about them and where they were buried.

Thus, I began my investigation by conducting a search on the website “Find A Grave.”  I learned that the Stedman siblings were buried at the Spencer Cemetery in Medina County, Ohio, as were their parents and older siblings because their memorials were already posted.  However, gravestone photographs were not added to their memorials.  

Next, I sent an email to Medina County officials who provided contact information for Spencer Township Trustee, Tom Brown.  Fortunately for me, I learned from the trustee that he was well acquainted with the Spencer Cemetery and had recalled seeing a tall four-sided dark gray granite monument erected for the Stedman family. He kindly obliged my request for a photograph of the monument and emailed it to me so I could post it on the children’s memorials.  I also added my photograph of the original double marker sitting at the antique store to their memorials so others, hopefully Stedman family descendants, would know about its existence.  

I am not certain if the Stedman children’s unique grave marker was eventually sold, however, I have been informed that it is no longer at the antique store.  

It would require painstaking work conducted by an experienced professional to remove the cement and embedded brick from the original stone without damaging or destroying it.  I am hoping that by now this lovely marker is sitting in a descendant's home or at a local historical society where it would be appreciated.

Also, Abigail Stedman Walters was buried at the Spencer Cemetery, a sibling of little George D. and Lucy L. Stedman. 

The Parents:


Thanking Tom Brown for sharing his photographs below of the large Stedman Family monument and the large marker for Henry and Abigail Stedman Walters.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Sharing a News Story about the Beech Grove Cemetery in Springfield Township, Hamilton County, Ohio

Sharing this sad story about the Beech Grove Cemetery in Springfield Township in Hamilton County, Ohio.  Thankfully, there is some hope for the cemetery to be properly deeded to the township soon.  

More information about the Beech Grove Cemetery and its interments can be found on Find A Grave.