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, December 31, 2018

Spotlighting Revolutionary War veteran Pvt. William Bell who died in 1801 and is buried at the Greenfield Cemetery in Highland County, Ohio

Wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year!  

May 2019 be a banner year for cemetery preservation in Ohio!  
Ohio House Bill 168 became law in 2018, and its passage offers additional assistance to obtain grants to help cover extraordinary needs and expenses at a registered cemetery.  More news to come in the next year that will detail the process for applying for a grant.  

Ending 2018 here in a grand way by sharing this "Find A Grave"memorial honoring a veteran who is among those who are the earliest known burials in the State of Ohio.  It was created for Revolutionary War veteran Pvt. William Bell who died in 1801.  Originally he was buried at Greenfield's Old Burying Ground but was later re-interred at the new Greenfield Cemetery.  Private Bell's biography is quite extensive and equally impressive! 
We are indebted to him for his service to America!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Taking a Look at House Bill 454 -"Require township to reimburse owner of unused cemetery lot"

Sharing a story from the "Sandusky Register"

By Tom Jackson, Staff Reporter

"SANDUSKY — Gov. John Kasich signed a new law by Rep. Steve Ardnt, R-Port Clinton, making it easier for Ohio townships to deal with long-unused cemetery lots.
The bill should make it easier for Ohioans to buy a cemetery lot near the final resting place of their loved ones, and also will aid townships dealing with unused space in cemeteries, said Arndt and state Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson, the two main authors of the bill.
Under existing law, townships had the right to take possession of unused cemetery lots sold after 1986, but not lots sold before then. This had the effect of leaving many townships unable to take back and resell cemetery lots that had been vacant and unused for decades.
Patterson, a retired history teacher, learned about the problem when a constituent told him he wanted to buy a cemetery lot near the burial location of his relatives. The township told him it couldn’t sell him a lot, even though it had vacant space, Arndt said.
Patterson needed a co-sponsor because he’s a Democrat in the Republican-dominated House, and Arndt, a longtime county commissioner in Ottawa County who remains interested in local government issues, agreed to help.

Under HB 454, the measure Kasich recently signed, a cemetery lot sold before 1986 can be reclaimed by a township if it’s still vacant. The township first has to provide notice to the owner, giving him or her 180 days to object.
If the owner still wants the lot, the township has to let him keep it, give the owner another lot or provide compensation.
“I was proud to vote in support of this legislation,” Arndt said. “House Bill 454 would allow townships to better utilize open space in the cemetery lots and assist more Ohioans in obtaining burial plots beside their loved ones.”
Arndt said it’s very common for townships in Ohio to operate local cemeteries.
In fact, many private cemeteries, particularly old ones, wind up being acquired by townships so that the cemeteries can continue to be properly maintained, Arndt said."

House Bill 454 - 

 "To amend sections 517.07 and 517.073 of the Revised Code to require a township to offer compensation to responsive owners of certain unused cemetery lots and rights. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio: SECTION 1. That sections 517.07 and 517.073 of the Revised Code be amended to read as follows: Sec. 517.07. Upon application, the board of township trustees shall sell at a reasonable price the number of lots as public wants demand for burial purposes. Purchasers of lots or other interment rights, upon complying with the terms of sale, may receive deeds for the lots or rights which the board shall execute and which shall be recorded by the township fiscal officer in a book for that purpose. The expense of recording shall be paid by the person receiving the deed. Upon the application of a head of a family living in the township, the board shall, without charge, make and deliver to the applicant a deed for a suitable lot or right for the interment of the applicant's family, if, in the opinion of the board and by reason of the circumstances of the family, the payment would be oppressive." ...
"As Passed by the Senate 132nd General Assembly Regular Session Sub. H. B. No. 454 2017-2018"

 Representatives Patterson, Arndt Cosponsors:

 Representatives Ashford, Seitz, Becker, Reece, Hambley, Holmes, Boyd, Brown, Anielski, Antonio, Barnes, Craig, Green, Lepore-Hagan, Miller, O'Brien, Perales, Rogers, Sheehy, Sprague Senators Coley, Eklund, Gardner, Hoagland, Lehner, Manning, O'Brien, Peterson, Schiavoni, Tavares, Terhar, Thomas, Uecker, Williams, Wilson, Yuko

"To amend sections 517.07 and 517.073 of the Revised Code to require a township to offer compensation to responsive owners of certain unused cemetery lots and rights."
"... the board of township trustees shall have right of reentry to the cemetery lot or right if the notification requirements are not met. At least ninety days before establishing reentry, the board shall publish a notice on the board's internet website, if applicable, and shall send a notice by certified mail to the last known owner at the owner's last known address to inform the owner that the owner's interest in the lot or right will cease unless the notification requirements are met. If the owner's address is unknown and cannot reasonably be obtained, it is sufficient to publish the notice once in a newspaper of general circulation in the county. In order to establish reentry, the board shall pass a resolution stating that the conditions of the sale or of the deed have not been fulfilled, and that the board reclaims its interest in the lot or right."
Sharing Some of My Thoughts:
As someone who has purchased my cemetery plots in 1992, I have mixed feelings (and emotions!) about this legislation that has recently been signed into law.  Thankfully, my plots are not at a township cemetery; because this legislation appears to affect ONLY township cemeteries.  
This is legislation that I feel bears reading and re-reading so there is a clear understanding of what could happen, particularly at a long inactive cemetery (no burials within the past 25 calendar years). 
There is one plus side to this new law should a new burial take place in an inactive cemetery because it would then change the cemetery's status to being Active.  By being an active cemetery due to a new burial, the township trustees would have to register that cemetery with the Department of Real Estate.
As we know, the Department of Real Estate's Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission only accepts complaints submitted about Active cemeteries that are registered or Active cemeteries that should be registered but are not due to a lapse of registration when a cemetery becomes 'orphaned' by its owners (i.e. citing the following examples: 
Floral Hills Memory Gardens in Chillicothe and Circleville; and Fairview Memorial Park in Delaware County and Grandview Memorial Park in Ravenna, Ohio.)
Some Considerations:Someone who wishes to be buried next to an ancestor should consider possible risks that could occur in the actual process, such as:

1. Damage to the ancestor's fragile marker.  

2.  Perhaps even actual destruction of an ancestor's marker if it were to topple over in the process of digging and preparation for the new gravesite next to it.  

  3.  Are the township trustees trained well enough to handle these types of new interments so close to pioneer ancestor gravesites put in place so long ago?  

  4.  Do the township trustees have the proper maps, burial records and surveys to prove that there really isn't an unmarked grave that no one knows about in the location where the new gravesite is supposed to be dug?

5.  Regarding No. 4:  
If unsure, will GPR (ground penetrating radar) be done to determine that the proposed new gravesite is indeed viable for the interment?  
If so, who is to bear the cost for GPR?

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Spotlighting the Drakesburg Cemetery of Freedom Township, Portage County, Ohio

Sharing photographs of some of the monuments, markers, and a military G.A.R. flag holder medallion that dot the landscape and reveal some of the history that is to be found at the Drakesburg Cemetery in Portage County, Ohio located in Freedom Twp.  
 The Drakesburg Cemetery was established in 1812!
Here is a link to the Freedom Township's Cemetery Page which includes the Drakesburg Cemetery.:
All photographs courtesy of Richard Luciano:


WPA Cemetery Plat Map Below 
for the Drakesburg Cemetery
Upper Right are the designations for:
Veterans' names & gravesite locations & War service
Legend for War Service is lower right
Below is a composite picture of the
Title for the Veterans Graves Registration
& and the full Legend for Wars through WWI 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Spotlighting Captain Thomas Nash buried at the Irville-Nashport Cemetery - Licking Township, Muskingum County, Ohio

Sharing Mr. Lawrence Sceurman's photograph of the downed monument that once was standing upright for Captain Thomas Nash, War of 1812 veteran who was buried at the Irville-Nashport Cemetery in Licking Township, Muskingum County, Ohio.
 Mr. Sceurman stated:  

"Just a mile from the original location of Nashport Ohio. Yes the town was named for Him. He made a port on the Ohio Erie Canal there! 
 It is on a hill and subsidence is sliding it down that hill undercutting many memorials. There is no money in their budget to re-set these stones so basically they have put it in the hands of the families. One of the problems is the hill. It's so steep that hoisting equipment can't be driven to many of the toppled stones, necessitating more dangerous manual hoisting and then , new foundations may not last.
I’m pretty sure the base has slid downhill off it’s foundation and tipped the whole thing forward."
 Above is the WPA Cemetery Plat Map
which shows the names and 
war designations of veterans and
their burial locations.  
The map also includes the information for
 Captain Thomas Nash, War of 1812 veteran.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Looking Ahead to Ohio's Statehood Day - February 27, 2019 - 9:00AM to 1:30PM

Mark your calendars for Ohio Statehood Day on Wednesday, February 27, 2019!

"Weds., Feb. 27, 2019 • Ohio Statehouse, Columbus

Join fellow history lovers at the Ohio Statehouse to commemorate Ohio's birthday—and to advocate for Ohio History.

In commemoration of Ohio’s founding, we and our partners invite you to join a broad coalition of history advocates for our annual Statehood Day event. 

The state’s birthday serves as an appropriate time each year for history advocates to come together to help showcase the importance of Ohio’s history and how history, historic preservation and the organizations that help provide access to Ohio’s rich history benefit the Buckeye State. Statehood Day is a celebration of Ohio and its history, as well as a legislative advocacy event!"


Learn how to participate!

"Find My Legislators" Link: 
"February 27, 2019 at the Ohio Statehood Day Luncheon"
Join history and preservation proponents from communities throughout Ohio in celebrating Ohio's birthday at the annual Statehood Day luncheons and legislative advocacy day. 
This event is sponsored by the Ohio History Connection, Heritage Ohio, the Ohio Archaeological Council, Ohio Local History Alliance, Ohio Genealogical Society, Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board, Preservation Ohio, the Ohio Travel Association, Ohio Academy of History, Ohio Council for Social Studies, Society of Ohio Archivists, Capitol Square Review & Advisory Board and Ohio Humanities. 
There will be a shuttle available to the Ohio Statehouse from the Ohio History Center on February 27, 2019. 
Space is limited and is available on a first come, first serve basis. 
If you plan on taking the shuttle, please register here to sign up for a shuttle time slot now. 
Please register by February 19, 2019. 
****Premium Members****:
Ohio History Connection has a new ticketing system! 
To receive your 2 complimentary premium member tickets you have to register for the site using the email address associated with your membership and create a new password, if you have not done so already. 
If you would like to verify which email you should use, please contact the membership office at membership@ohiohistory.org
The next time you visit the site, sign in first and then proceed to purchase tickets. You will receive the premium member discount at check out.