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."

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Sharing from Scott Knerr of Auglaize County, Ohio: The Life of Civil War Veteran Henry Ruck

Sharing from Scott Knerr:

"The "Ruck" family name has been here in Auglaize County from the very beginning. I thought it was time to honor and learn about them.  

" The Ruck Family"

Heinrich Jacob (he went by " Jacob" once in America) Ruck Sr. was born Sept 29th 1803 near Bavaria Germany where he spent all his childhood years. I found conflicting arrival dates to America but he came here sometime between 1828 and 1832. His port of entry was in Baltimore Maryland. Jacob spent a few years living in Baltimore where he met a lady named Barbara Lutz who was also a immigrant from Bavaria. 

The information I found shows Jacob and Barbara married sometime in 1834 with Jacob being 21 and Barbara 17. Their first son was born May 15th 1834. They named him Heinrich Jacob Ruck Jr. Through his young years of life Heinrich Jr. was nicknamed Henry which stuck all through the rest of his life. 

Within a month of giving birth to Henry, Barbara was again pregnant. It was during this time that Jacob and Barbara loaded up all their things and started the long journey to a new life in Ohio. 

They arrived here in what was then Allen County sometime in the late part of 1834 or January of 1835. Birth records show their next child who they named Jacob was born February 12th 1835 in Pusheta Township of Allen County. Henry and Jacob Jr. were just nine months apart in age.

Around 1839 Jacob Sr. had a brother named George from Germany join him here. About a year later another brother named Christian also made the voyage and came here to join his brothers. In 1846 another brother was suppose to come named Friedrich. But something happened over in Germany and Freidrich died suddenly at the age of forty five. Two of his daughters did make it to America and settled in Clermont County.

The next time the brothers show up is in the 1848 Auglaize County first year of tax records. All three brothers own land around the Fryburg area and are farming. By 1860 Jacob Sr. and Barbara have twelve children, George has at least five, and Christian also had at least five children.

Our Civil War vet Henry had a huge family around him growing up. He spent his whole childhood growing up on a farm just outside of Fryburg. At the age of 16 he moved from the farm into Fryburg.

In 1850 Henry moved in with the family of Joseph and Elizabeth Flick. Joseph was a immigrant from France and was a well known wagon maker around Fryburg. Henry moved in with the Flick family to be an apprentice at Joseph's side.
Henry met a lady named Barbara Hensky who he married on Dec. 26th 1855 in Fryburg. By the 1860 census they had two daughters and he was a seasoned wagon maker in Fryburg with ten years experience. He was also treasurer of the township from 1858-1861

In 1864 Henry was drafted into the Civil War at the age of 30 and mustered in Sept.23rd. 1864 into Company C Ohio 64th Infantry Regiment as a private. Company C was one of the lucky ones. The war was beginning to wind down so this regiment didn't engage in any real battles. They mainly guarded prisoners and helped bury the dead. Henry mustered out of service June 16th 1865. 

Shortly after coming back home Henry and his family moved into Wapak. The 1870 census shows he is now a Inn Keeper. He has four men as tenants. Christian Faubel 34 is a Tailor, Moore Cramer 28 a Tailor, Rheinten Herbst 28 a Cooper, and George Frind 24 also a Cooper. Henry was also Justice of the Peace in Wapak at this time and served from 1872-1876.

From 1874 until 1880 Henry was the Auglaize County Recorder. By the 1880 census he and Barbara now have seven children living at home aging from 20 to 1 year old. Their oldest daughter Elizabeth 22 years old has since moved out on her own. 

Henry died June 13th 1888. He suffered from diabetes most of his life. This affected his health later in life. He also came down with malignant carbuncles. This disease was a cancerous skin infection which was caused in part by his diabetes and also ended his life at the age of fifty four. He is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery

The Ruck family had another branch of their family move into our area sometime in the 1850s. This branch I haven't studied too deep yet, but I do know they had a Civil War Soldier among them also. His name was George Ruck and I learned he lost a arm during the war. But that's another story. 

Hope you enjoyed learning about this well known family. Many of their descendants have done great things in making life better for many generations of families. Until next time..."


Monday, March 27, 2017

FREE EVENT REMINDER: NCPTT Cemetery Preservation Workshop - Bardstown, Kentucky - Friday, April 7, 2017 with Jason Church of NCPTT


FREE EVENT!  Need to RSVP!  

***Please be sure to contact RaShae Jennings with questions and for more details.***:  

"RaShae Jennings rjennings@bardstowncable.net  ~~~~~~~~
To register or for more information please contact RaShae Jennings at (502)-348-5947 ext. 2243 with the City of Bardstown or email at rjennings@bardstowncable.net.
"The workshop is free and open to anyone! 
Please keep sharing that information! 

Thank you so much for helping to share the event. We are not going to do a cemetery workshop next year…but the next year we most certainly are! 

And I want to make it an annual event. So please tell everyone to give me feedback on what they would find useful and would like to see in the next workshop in 2019. 

Thank you again! 
If you have any questions please give me a call. 
Also tell everyone to please RSVP for the event. "


April 7
8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Event Categories:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

"Preserving Gravemarkers in Historic Cemeteries" - NPS Preservation Brief #48 --Is a Must Have for your Cemetery Preservation Library

Let me preface this post by stating that my hard copy of "Preserving Gravemarkers in Historic Cemeteries", Brief #48 a 20-page publication by the National Park Service, arrived in my mail this past Saturday.

I can attest that it is definitely well worth the small investment amount to purchase it -- $6.00! Free shipping from the U. S. Government Book Store

This expertly researched and presented publication is available online in PDF version, which is also great to save and access at any time. However, if you are anything like me (who is "old school"!) having an actual publication in book or booklet form, printed on good stock paper, is a thing of joy to hold for serious reading or even paging through for casual browsing. 

So, I can recommend this great publication as a helpful addition for anyone's home library collection on the subject of gravestone conservation and cemetery preservation.  The booklet offers a great start for learning more on this subject, or perhaps answering some lingering questions about it.  

You won't find a better value for your money on the subject of preserving gravemarkers from any source!

The NPS (National Park Service) and NCPTT (National Center for Preservation Technology and Training) know this subject well!  
NCPTT hold hands-on training sessions for gravestone conservation and cemetery preservation. Many who have attended these hands-on workshops have become professionals with this work and earned great respect in their field if they keep to the principles they were taught. 


"Cemeteries found across the country are not only places of burial, but they also provide a vivid record of community history. 
Whether large or small, well maintained or neglected, historic cemeteries are an important part of our cultural landscape. The vast richness of expression through form, decoration and materials informs our understanding of the individuals buried in historic cemeteries and their cultural significance.
While cemeteries are often considered to be perpetual, their most prominent feature—the grave markers—are not. They weather, naturally decay, often are poorly maintained and repaired and, on occasion, are vandalized. 
Grave markers are usually noteworthy not only for their inscriptions but also for their craftsmanship. 
Exceptional markers are considered works of art.
This Preservation Brief focuses on a single aspect of historic cemetery preservation—providing guidance for owners, property managers, administrators, in-house maintenance staff, volunteers, and others who are responsible for or are interested in preserving and protecting grave markers. Besides describing grave marker materials and the risk factors that contribute to their decay, the Brief provides guidance for assessing their conditions and discusses maintenance programs and various preservation treatments."
Beautiful, full color images.
"This brief would be helpful for community historians, history professors and students studying cemetery construction, preservation, and the concept of memorialization throughout history, Archaeologists and Anthropologists studying methods of burial, memorialization, and grave marker construction, Masons and stoneworkers engaged in constructing grave markers (specifically historically-influenced markers), and any member of the general public interested in learning how to preserve historic cemeteries and their value to the history of a community."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Ancestry Insider: The New and Improved Find A Grave Shown at #RootsT...

The Ancestry Insider: The New and Improved Find A Grave Shown at #RootsT...: At RootsTech 2017 Peter Drinkwater showed off a late-alpha prototype for a new Find A Grave website. Fearing the worst, he was quite happy ...
Now might be a good time to go into your "Contributor Tools" and download your data.:
"Download Your Data"
"You can download your records for a cemetery or virtual cemetery by choosing it from the list below. The data will download as a tab-delimited Excel file. This format can be imported into a variety of programs. Add cemeteries to your My Cemeteries list to see them listed here."
Just a tip:  I use a Windows 7 64bit desk top computer, and when I downloaded a cemetery file it saved it to a .txt format instead of an Excel format.  I changed the .txt to a .xls and the file then opened up in Excel for me.  I could also re-save the .xls into a .xlsx file.  I still have Office 2007 on my computer.  So, if your downloaded cemeteries default to .txt this would be a workaround for you.

Friday, March 24, 2017

April Is Coming -Time to Brush Up on the Basics of Best Practices Because Gravestone Cleaning Methods Matter

April is only a few days away and the weather will be getting warmer.  

This time of the year brings the beginning of a new season of hands-on cemetery preservation workshops in Ohio and in the Midwest region -- held at cemeteries large and small; city and rural (township) -- so you'll want to be sure and attend those that promote safe practices so you don't end up ruining the very gravestones you are striving to protect and preserve.  

We'll brush up on the basics -- the Best Practices for cleaning gravestones because:

 Grave Marker Cleaning Methods Matter!  

The "Approved and NOT Approved Chart" below can be used as a handy one-page reference and reminder tool to stay on track to make the correct choices for products and practices. 
(***The right-hand column is the Unapproved
No No Never Use Column!***)  

 Also, sharing a link to "Stone Revival Historical Preservation" and specifically the Page devoted to properly Cleaning Headstones

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Sharing History of Civil War Veteran Jacob LaPole Buried in Auglaize County, Ohio

March 21, 2017
From Scott Knerr:
"Harruff Cemetery is a unmarked cemetery on the south side off St. Rt. 33 between Wapakoneta and St. Johns.
I remembered during Memorial weekend and Labor day that there was always flags flying there near the highway. This time I pulled in with my camera and decided to study this small country cemetery a little closer. I have to say it is in pretty sad shape. Many of the headstones are broken, leaning, crooked, and laying on the ground.

But I got lucky when I walked up to this small white headstone and seen all the info printed on it. The stone belongs to Jacob LaPole. This stone was furnished by the government and all the info on it. There are no dates on it because the government didn't provide this kind of info for the stones. That was up to the family if they chose to have it dated. 

I snapped some pictures and came home and researched him. Below is everything I could find on him. Hope you enjoy the life story of Jacob LaPole.

Philip LaPole immigrated here from France and settled in Maryland in the 1840s. Shortly after he met a sweet young lady named Mary Ann Stone from Virginia. Together they had 3 girls and one boy who they named Jacob.

Jacob LaPole was born Aug 17th 1848 in Hagerstown Maryland. Jacob would have a very short childhood here. In 1861 the Civil War broke out. Hagerstown was a primary spot for both sides and was used right at the beginning of the Civil War as a post for supplies.

In 1863 Hagerstown was the site for several military battles as Gen. Robert E Lee's army invaded and retreated in the Gettysburg campaign. Even at the young age of 15 Jacob felt he had to help protect his town and signed up with the Union Army. Jacob mustered in Feb. 29th 1864 into "Company H First Regiment Potomac Home Brigade Cavalry Maryland"( this is what all the initials stand for on his tombstone} just being over 15 1/2 years old.

He wouldn't have to wait long. On July 6th the Confederate Army sent 1500 men in and held the town for ransom of $20,000 and a large amount of clothing. Jacob would be in this skirmish as a rookie. I couldn't find what actually happened around July 29th 1864 but the Confederate Army captured at least 7 of Jacob's company with Jacob being one.

Jacob and his comrades were taken to the Andersonville Georgia POW camp in August of 1864 and be held there until the end of the war. I remember hearing of this place when we studied the Civil War in school. As I researched it again after all these years I discovered just how bad this place was.

Andersonville was built by black slaves to hold Union soldiers captured during the war. It was built on 16 acres and was meant to hold 10,000 prisoners. It had a creek running through the middle of it and was suppose to be used for water and cooking.

But by August of 1864 when Jacob was brought here the prisoners totaled more then 33,000. By now the creek was polluted by men bathing in it and human waste so very little water was available for the men and even less food. The creek beds had eroded away and caused a huge swamp that took over a large portion of the camp.

The Confederate Army had run out of supplies to build barracks for the men so they either had to sleep under the stars or make makeshift shelters from scraps of wood they may find and blankets. There was so many prisoners and so little space that the men would sleep in shifts because there wasn't enough room for all to lay down at once.
The guards were also very brutal to the prisoners. The prisoners only had the clothes on their backs and as they would wear out they had to do without. 

In the end more then 13,000 men died from disease and starvation. One of the young men in Jacob's company did die there of starvation.

I can't even begin to imagine the horrors Jacob must have seen there being only 16 years old and what he must have went through. Jacob spent almost a full year there before the war ended in 1865. But luckily Jacob was be one of the survivors.

Jacob returned home and within a few years moved to the Troy Ohio area where he married a young lady named Mary Kantner and started a farm. Jacob and Mary had 10 children there and raise them on the farm. They then moved to Auglaize county 9 years later near St. Johns and started another farm. They had one more child in 1881 that was born here in Auglaize county.

I couldn't find when Mary died but the 1890 census shows Jacob as widowed so she must not have lived long much after they came here. Jacob would never remarry and raise his 11 children on his own. By the 1910 census it shows Jacob had picked up a side job from his farming as a mail carrier.

Jacob would have one last big event in his life in 1922. In Minster Ohio a man had asked the priest of the church to come to his house because he was sick. When the priest arrived and came in the house the man shot him dead. This turned into a big court case at the courthouse.
Jacob was chosen as one of the jurors of this case. In the end the jurors found the man guilty and he was sentenced to life in prison. But the attorney asked for a new trial because for one reason he had found out that Jacob was biased and prejudiced and that he had formed and expressed an opinion before the case came to trial. Jacob had stated if he had his way he would like to see the man hang for his crime.

On Nov 28th 1928 Jacob passed away in St. Johns at the home of his daughter Mrs. Estelle Decker. Jacob had been suffering from a congestive heart for about 3 months and was bedfast the last 8 days of his life before he died from a heart attack. Jacob lived to be just over 80 years old.

Jacob was a member of the Christian church of St. Johns and was known as a devoted father and a kindly Christian man. Jacob's reverend Joseph Shellhaus had moved to a church in Carey several years before but came back to assist in Jacob's funeral. That kind of tells me the reverend and Jacob must have been close friends.

Well that's all I could find on Jacob LaPole. But again I learned so much about him. He had a very hard life in the first 16 years of his life. He saw horrors that most of us could never imagine. But he overcame all of it and became a great husband, father, and friend to all who knew him.

But the next time you are driving down 33 and see the little cemetery on the hill think about Jacob. He truly was an awesome man. 

One last note there are I think two more Civil War soldiers buried there. As I get time I want to study these men also. I'll let you know what I find. Hope you enjoyed more Wapakoneta History."

Saturday, March 18, 2017

April 7, 2017: FREE "Introduction to the Care of Historic Cemeteries": Workshop in Bardstown Kentucky - NCPTT with Jason Church

I am pleased to share a link to the April 7, 2017 NCPTT Introduction to the Care of Historic Cemeteries workshop.

I have been informed that this event will be FREE to ALL attendees.  

For more information and registration.:

Please contact RaShae Jennings at (502)-348-5947 ext. 2243 with the City of Bardstown or email at rjennings@bardstowncable.net."
******Who Should Attend.******:
"This is an introductory course beneficial for cultural resources staff, trustees, genealogists, cemetery caretakers, grounds keepers, students in historic preservation, public history, and allied fields, and others interested in caring for a cemetery, whether you are doing the work yourself or working with a group to see that a site is maintained and preserved. 

No prior training or experience is required."

Saturday, March 11, 2017

"The Vaults of Elmwood Cemetery" -- A Blog Post from "Lorain365.com"

"The Vaults of Elmwood" is the title of the latest blog post of the "Lorain365.com" blog.  Photographs of places in Lorain, primarily structures, are featured on this blog every day.  So, it is nice to see some taken at a cemetery; in this case Lorain's Elmwood Cemetery, which is its city cemetery.  
Adding below some of my own photographs of the mausoleum vaults, and their beautiful stained glass windows, that grace the grounds at Elmwood Cemetery.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Additional Information for: Clean Up Day at Old Greencastle Cemetery in Dayton, Ohio - March 18, 2017

**Sharing additional information from Traci Muller Rylands**:

"I have more information about the March 18 cleanup day at Dayton's Old Greencastle Cemetery 
From Fred Lynch of the SUCVW:
"SUVCW and other community volunteers will be at Old Greencastle Cemetery from 9 a.m. to noon Sat., March 18. 

Anyone wanting to help welcome, but need bring own weed whackers, rakes, pruners, brooms etc. to use. 

No electricity or water at cemetery. Dress for the weather as it might be chilly. 

Work day will be cancelled if raining. 
Additional work days scheduled from 9 a.m. to Noon April 15, May 20, June 14, Aug. 17, Sept. 16, and Oct. 14. All are “weather permitting.” 
All assistance appreciated."
Traci is the author of the Blog:
Other Links for the Old Greencastle Cemetery: 
From OhioLink:
Harrison Township Cemetery Association / Greencastle Cemetery Records

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Announcing Spring Clean up Day, March 18th, at the Old Greencastle Cemetery - Dayton, Ohio

Sharing from Traci Muller Rylands:

"The Sons of Union Veterans, Sherman Camp #93, are having a cleanup day at Old Greencastle Cemetery in Dayton on Saturday, March 18, and are in inviting the public to join them.

These fellows (some pictured below) do a great job, so I hope they will get a big turn out.

 Many of my ancestors are buried there so it has a special place in my heart." 


The Old Greencastle Cemetery in Dayton is on Find A Grave with 8,018 interments.

Friday, March 3, 2017

"Native American bones stolen from Ohio grave to be reburied"

From Dave Snyder of the Ohio History Connection 
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

January 21, 2016 10:10 AM
"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."