I’m drawn to the quiet dignity of rural cemeteries. It doesn’t matter if I don’t know anyone there. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Bean Cemetery in Rome Township near Guysville in Athens County, Ohio, or it’s the Hitt Cemetery near Arbor or it’s the High Hill Cemetery north of Neely’s Landing. I’m not big on ghosts and spirits, but I feel a kinship walking among those strangers.
You can click on the photos to make them larger.
Feeling the bonds
When I did a story about the Cruse Cemetery near Toga returning to nature, reader Larry Points left a comment that shows he has experienced those same feelings:
“…one will find the Gravel Hill Cemetery on a knoll with a scenic overlook of the countryside. In it is a tombstone for a nine-year-old girl who died in the 1880s. Upon the stone is this eroded inscription: “Beautiful lovely she was but given, a fair bud to earth to bloom in heaven.” Standing alone at such a stone, in such a setting, imagining shared grief gathered round so long ago, one is drawn to the emotional ties which bond we humans one to another.”
I didn’t find a lot of online information about the cemetery. FindaGrave reports there are 104 internments in the cemetery, with about half of them photographed.
As you might suspect, there are a lot of Beans buried there. (Curator Jessica commented, “They grow lots of Beans in that part of the county. Actually, that is true, in both senses of the word.”
The fields aren’t green today
Athens County gets Cape weather about two days after Cape. The lush green fields I photographed at the end of August have seen snow in the past few days and there’s more on the way.
The temperatures in West Palm Beach as I type this are a chilly 45 and falling. That’s a lot better than Athens, where it is -2 and falling (wind chill -15), headed for a low of -11 before sunrise.
Maybe Florida isn’t so bad after all.
We passed the Cruse Cemetery north of Toga on Stoddard County Rd 203 many a time on the way to visit one of Mother’s dearest friends, Daisy Zimmerman. When I paused there in the early 1970s, it was looking pretty shabby. (Click any photo to make it larger.)
Weeds had overtaken stones
It’s always disappointing to see any cemetery neglected, but this one is a fairly large one, with almost 200 interments in it, the Find A Grave website shows. The good news is that recent Google Earth photos show that it’s in much better shape today.
Local legend of the rich man
Somewhere along the line, I heard a story about a rich man who had been buried in this cemetery. Local legend was that the man had a fair amount of money and had always said he was going to take it with him. After he was put on the dark side of the dirt, it was said that his grave was dug up by someones unknown who thought that live crooks could better spend the stash than a dead man.
I don’t remember if anyone ever said if there was any treasure found, whether the grave was successfully dug up or any any other juicy details. The other piece of the story was that when he was planted again, this time his grave had a huge concrete slab poured over it.
I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the slab, but I can’t locate any photos of it.
Another tombstone mystery
There are lots of interesting stories about cemeteries in the Advance area. There was once a family cemetery on the town square in Advance. The tombstones all mysteriously disappeared in the middle of the night. Nobody in town would give up the culprits. Even my mother and Daisy, who were wired in, claimed no knowledge of what happened to the stones.
Daisy, left, is no longer with us, so she kept the town’s secret to the end, if she ever knew it.