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."

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Spotlighting restoration of Box Tombs at the Old Burying Ground in Greenfield, Highland County, Ohio

Congratulations to Scott Andersen who has done a fantastic job of restoring these box tombs seen in this photograph.  The one on the left with its sides of individual stones is the more intricate of the two.  

As we can also see, the dirt area around these box tombs has been tamped down to make it ready for grass to be planted. 

We know that tombstones and monuments need grass around them to add ground support so they do not start to lean.  Without grass they can eventually topple over.  

One of the big mistakes cemetery groundskeepers make is to over-weedwhack around a gravestone, leaving a large circle of just dirt around it.  

As we can see from the markers sitting in slotted bases and some installed directly into the ground, the grass around them not only looks good, but is helping to keep them upright.  

Restoration work at The Old Burying Ground is now in its fifth year!  Almost monthly during the Spring and Summer months organized day-long work sessions are held to revitalize this early Ohio cemetery.  Improvements come one grave marker at a time as the dedicated volunteers work carefully row by row.  The transformation has been phenomenal!  

Indeed the volunteers of the Greenfield Historical Society, and others who have so kindly volunteered with them, have much to be proud of!  

The results of their work now sit impressively right in front of their eyes.  It is a treat to visit the  "OBG" - and to view the photographs showing all of their progress!  

Friday, August 17, 2018

Revisiting HB 168 - March 29, 2017 - October 29, 2018 when the law becomes effective

One year and seven months will have gone by when HB 168 takes effect! 
The document is 30 pages in length.  
Below are some excerpts from HB 168:
(132nd General Assembly)
(Substitute House Bill Number 168)
To amend sections 1721.21, 1721.211, 4717.03, 4717.13, 4717.14, 4717.36, 4767.01,
4767.02, 4767.03, 4767.04, 4767.05, 4767.06, 4767.07, and 4767.08 and to enact
sections 4767.021, 4767.09, 4767.10, and 4767.11 of the Revised Code to modify duties of the Division of Real Estate in the Department of Commerce regarding cemetery registration, to specify cemetery owners must reasonably maintain
cemeteries, to establish the Cemetery Grant Program, to allow the Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors to review and vote upon certain license suspensions by telephone, to make various other changes to the embalmers, funeral directors, and crematory licensing laws, and to make an appropriation.

Sec. 4767.10 . (A) The cemetery grant fund is created in the state treasury. The division of real estate in the department of commerce shall deposit into the fund one dollar of each two dollars and fifty cents portion of the burial permit fee received under section 3705.17 of the Revised Code. 
The division shall use moneys in the fund to advance grants to cemeteries registered with the division to defray the costs of exceptional cemetery maintenance or training cemetery personnel in the maintenance and operation of cemeteries. The division may not provide a grant to a corporation or
association that operates a cemetery for profit. In each fiscal year, the division may not advance grants totaling more than eighty per cent of the appropriation to the cemetery grant fund for that fiscal year. The division shall advance grants from the fund in accordance with rules adopted by the Ohio cemetery dispute resolution commission under Chapter 119. of the Revised Code.
(B) The director of commerce may increase, by rule adopted under Chapter 119. of the Revised Code, the amount of total grants the division may advance in a fiscal year if the director  determines the total amount of funds generated exceeds the amount of funds the division needs to carry out its powers and duties under this section. If the director determines the increased amount depletes the amount of funds the division needs to carry out its powers and duties under this section,
the director may decrease the amount not below the amount specified in division (A) of this section.
Sec. 4767.11 . Upon receipt of information that the owner or person responsible for the operation of a registered cemetery or a cemetery that was required to be registered has ceased operation of that cemetery, the division of real estate in the department of commerce may investigate for purposes of determining the cemetery's current status.
If the division finds evidence that the cemetery has ceased operation and a municipal corporation or township has not assumed day-to-day management of the cemetery, the division may apply to the court of common pleas of the county in which the cemetery is located for appointment of a temporary receiver or trustee. 
The order appointing the temporary receiver or trustee shall order the trustee or trustees of the endowment care trust of the cemetery to make distributions to the receiver or trustee in accordance with section 1721.21 of the Revised Code.
The receiver shall only be paid from the income of interest and dividends in the endowment
care trust being held pursuant to section 1721.21 of the Revised Code. 

The receiver may not invade the principal or capital gains of the trust.
That existing sections 1721.21, 1721.211, 4717.03, 4717.13, 4717.14, 4717.36,
4767.01, 4767.02, 4767.03, 4767.04, 4767.05, 4767.06, 4767.07, and 4767.08 of the Revised Code are hereby repealed.
All items in this section are hereby appropriated as designated out of any moneys in the state treasury to the credit of the designated fund. For all appropriations made in this act, those in the first column are for fiscal year 2018 and those in the second column are for fiscal year 2019.
The appropriations made in this act are in addition to any other appropriations made for the FY 2018-FY 2019 biennium.
Dedicated Purpose Fund Group

5SE0 800648 Cemetery Grant Program 
$100,000 $0
TOTAL DPF Dedicated Purpose Fund Group $100,000 $0
$100,000 $0
The foregoing appropriation item 800648, Cemetery Grant Program, shall be used by the Department of Commerce to award grants under section 4767.10 of the Revised Code.
Within the limits set forth in this act, the Director of Budget and Management shall establish accounts indicating the source and amount of funds for each appropriation made in this act,
and shall determine the form and manner in which appropriation accounts shall be maintained.

Expenditures from appropriations contained in this act shall be accounted for as though made in H.B. 49 of the 132nd General Assembly.
The appropriations made in this act are subject to all provisions of H.B. 49 of the 132nd General Assembly that are generally applicable to such appropriations.

**By the way HB 49 is 3,384 pages long! **
For those of us who have concerns about inactive (no burials in the past 25 calendar years) or family cemeteries, sadly nothing has changed meaning nothing has improved legislative-wise through the provisions provided in HB 168 that would benefit these types of cemeteries -- where probably most of our ancestors are buried!
(D) 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.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Remembering Helen Steiner Rice buried at Elmwood Cemetery, Lorain, Ohio

The world renowned prolific poet, Helen Steiner Rice, is buried next to her parents, John and Anna Steiner, and her sister, Gertrude, at her hometown Cemetery - Elmwood Cemetery - in Lorain, Ohio. 
One of the most recent publications entitled:  "Hidden History of Lorain County" by Kelly Boyer Sagert includes a wonderful biographical account of the life of Helen Steiner Rice.
The Lorain Public Library has devoted a special page honoring Helen Steiner Rice.
Here is a link to the extensive biography about her compiled by Mary Hilaire Tavenner, Ph.D. entitled:  
"Helen Steiner Rice Woman of Talent and Courage"
Befittingly, an Elementary School in Lorain is named in honor of Helen Steiner Rice.
I am so proud to call Helen Steiner Rice's hometown of Lorain, Ohio my hometown too.
Sign for Helen Steiner Rice's gravesite
(Above marker)
Helen Steiner Rice
(Above marker)
John A. Steiner
(Above marker)
Anna J. Steiner
(Above marker)
(sister of Helen Steiner Rice)

Some of Helen Steiner Rice's Poems 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

"Man Works to Restore One of the Oldest Cemeteries in Ohio" -- Spotlighting Tim Foor and his work at the Pagetown Cemetery in Morrow County, Ohio

by Bryant Somerville of WBNS 10TV News in Columbus, Ohio.
Sharing an Excerpt:


"The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living."
"That was once said by Roman philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero.
Two-thousand years later, just off State Route 26 in Morrow County, those same words ring true.
Tim Foor says it needed to be done.
"It's been in rough shape for quite some time," he said.
Records kept the Pagetown Cemetery in Bennington Township up-to-date until 1948. By that time, Foor says grazing cattle had knocked over and destroyed many of the headstones."
There is a well done video for this story that is inspiring so many who are viewing it to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Tim Foor and learn to properly clean, repair, and re-set old gravestones.  

As has been written in the past in this blog, the key word is always "properly"!!  

First, we need to feel compelled to join the ever growing number of people who want to become proactive with saving a cemetery!  It happens one gravemarker at a time and one row at a time.  It can happen through donations or hands-on work, but we know it is happening!  Ohio is destined to become a leader in restoring its cemeteries and and returning respect for all of those who now rest in peace in them. "

Poor maintenance practices plague Lorain's Elmwood Cemetery - Lorain, Ohio

Below is the related Lorain "MorningJournal" News Story;
These photographs below were taken on August 12, 2018 at Elmwood Cemetery in Lorain.  They illustrate maintenance practices that are causing clumps of thick dead grass to stick to the stones and dry in the hot sun; making it difficult to remove the clumps from the stone.  

I think most folks would consider this an unsightly mess and disrespectful to the deceased.  This situation means that family members must clean off the dried up clumps from their family's markers and monuments.  What about the markers and monuments where there is no family to handle this situation?  Will the cemetery groundskeepers come back to remove the thick clumps from the surface?  We just don't know at this point.  

Sadly, this is the worst Elmwood Cemetery has looked since I have been visiting it for over 20 years.  

This last photo above illustrates where part of the problem lies.
Taking too long between trimmings.  
Allowing gravemarkers
to become too overgrown means taking too aggressive
of an approach to remove the grass/weeds around them. 
As we can easily see here; it has been awhile since there has been any trimming around this flat marker.  
Thankfully, there is no dead grass/weeds covering it; but live grass/weeds are covering over it to the point eventually it may no longer be seen.