Posts Tagged ‘fort meigs cemetery’

I last took a look at the cemetery symbolism of the upright fist with the pointer finger extended in Going Up. I wanted to share some more photos that I have found of this symbol, since it is one of the most common to find in Ohio from the 19th century.

Matilda Escott and her daughter Caroline died in the 1860s, and the finger points upward to heaven, where the remaining family no doubt believed they ascended. They rest in Fort Meigs Cemetery in Perrysburg, Ohio.


In Ashtabula’s Chestnut Grove Cemetery, we find Martha, whose surname I could not read. Her family wanted visitors to know that she was heaven-bound.


Alice Stork’s body rests in Oxford Cemetery, Ohio, but her parents placed a marker with this symbol, showing that her soul was elsewhere.


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Apologies for the more superficial posts this week. We are preparing for a vacation and I am trying to put some content up every day, but I am too preoccupied to put together some of the more thoughtful posts that I usually manage. Instead, I’m going to present you with things I find beautiful or which intrigue me.

First of all, we have this monument from Fort Meigs Cemetery:

So far, most four-legged animals sculpted in stone that I find are lambs, but this seems to be a dog. If it is a dog, the symbolism associated with that animal would be faithfulness and loyalty.


The only reason I am doubting my impression of it being a dog and not a sheep with odd ear flaps is that the monument is for children, a group with which lamb imagery is heavily associated.


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One of the things I have noticed is how often death by drowning is mentioned on a tombstone, like this on at Fort Meigs Cemetery in Perrysburg, Ohio.

F. X. Belanger Sr.

Only a fraction of tombstones make any mention of how the deceased, well, got to be deceased.  The practice was more common in the early 19th century, but drowning continues to show up after other causes of death have disappeared from grave markers.

The back of the Prentice stone in Chestnut Grove Cemetery in Ashtabula tells us that Charles J. Copeland drowned in Lake Erie in 1887.


We already looked at photographs of grave markers at Lakeside Cemetery and Erie Street Cemetery that specifically mention drowning.

Dr. Cudell’s stone at Lake View tells us that he drowned:
Adolph Cudell, M.D.

Why does drowning elicit special mention? Is it our relationship with water – an element essential to our survival that can nonetheless be deadly? Does it have anything to do with the symbolism of baptism for Christians, who all of these dead seem to nominally be? Or is it because drowning is so sudden, that fatigue and water can overcome even the strongest, healthiest man within a short time?

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Lake Erie

This was originally going to be a very different post. A few weeks ago, I drove up to a lakefront park in Willowick, Ohio, to get a photograph of the historical marker for the sinking of the Griffith.

Lake Erie

On June 17, 1850, a steamer called the G. P. Griffith was en route from Buffalo to Toledo on Lake Erie when a fire erupted in the dark hours of the early morning. The boat was a few miles out from the shoreline, east of the city of Cleveland. The crew attempted to steer to shore and lodged the ship on a sandbar. Contemporary accounts estimated that 286 people died out of the over 300 on board. Some burned, some were probably crushed by the paddlewheels or falling wreckage, and many drowned, a number probably increased by cumbersome clothing made weightier by concealed valuables. Many passengers were immigrants moving further west carrying money on their persons. Because there was no definitive list of passengers and crew, the number of survivors has been estimated as between 40 and 87.

I had planned to write about the historical marker because it is, for many of the victims, their only memorial. Following the disaster, the citizens of Willowick buried over 100 recovered bodies in a mass grave on the the shoreline. Over time, erosion reclaimed the grave and the remains plunged, for the final time, into the lake water.

The Griffith Disaster

Then, while walking through Fort Meigs Cemetery, I found a cenotaph for the captain and co-owner Charles C. Roby and his family


Roby, a successful merchant,  and another man, Studdiford, purchased the G. P. Griffith in the preceding winter, and Roby decided that he wished to captain the steamer for that voyage and take along a number of family and friends.


According to the accounts of the disaster, Roby asked crew members to help his family safely reach shore, but none were successful.  Roby, his wife, mother, and daughter all perished along with most passengers and crew. Some state that Roby’s second child perished on the Griffith, but the placement of his name on the monument in relation to the three confirmed dead in the sinking – Charles, Amelia, and Abby – suggests otherwise.  However baby Charles died, the monument in Fort Meigs Cemetery stands in memory of one family destroyed.  The historical marker in the park, while less personal, stands as the lone memorial to the families decimated on June 17, 1850, who were unable to leave such a marker for themselves.

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Rev. Joseph Badger

I saw this tombstone and assumed that it would be easy to find out more information about Reverend Joseph Badger – after all, how many men named Joseph Badger could be running around the Western Reserve preaching in its early days? (I had originally phrased that question as “how many Badgers could be running around the Western Reserve in the early 19th centuries?”, but I thought better of it.)

The answer to my revised question turned out to be two. No, I am not kidding. There were two Rev. Joseph Badgers who were both preachers in the Western Reserve in the first half of the 19th century.

The Reverend Badger that this tombstone commemorates is likely to be the first missionary in the Western Reserve, although historians are not as willing to state that as definitively as the memorial is. Born in Massachusetts in 1757, Badger had already served in the American Revolution and been a teacher and weaver before he became a preacher. Badger studied at Yale University and was ordained in Massachusetts. In 1800 Badger traveled as a missionary into the Western Reserve under the auspices of the Connecticut Missionary Society. Badger’s initial duty was to serve the religious needs of the settlers, but he also attempted to convert Native Americans. He established churches, including the first one in the Western Reserve (second in what would become Ohio) in Austinburg in 1801, and served as chaplain and postmaster for soldiers during the War of 1812. By the time Badger died in Perrysburg, Ohio, in 1846, he had traversed nearly the entirety of northern Ohio in his missionary duties. He also left his memoirs behind.

There is a chapter in this book on Badger and a photo of his tombstone from the early 20th century.

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While in the Fort Meigs Cemetery, I found this grave marker.

From the front, it was mostly unusual in that it was in a section of the cemetery with mostly older graves.  I had passed it by when Mike told me I needed to see the other side.


From what I can piece together from Toledo Blade articles online, Randy Deye died of brain cancer at only 36 and he participated fully in the planning of his funeral and memorials.

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We were out of town this weekend in Perrysburg, Ohio, attending an event at Fort Meigs, a reconstructed War of 1812-1814 fort. Every time we drove from the site to the hotel, we passed the Fort Meigs Cemetery. While sitting at the traffic light at the intersection, I scanned the cemetery and noticed the bluish gray patina of a zinker. I convinced my significant other to let me wander through the cemetery and specifically look at the zinker before we left for home on Sunday.

Unfortunately my comfortable walking sneakers were caked with mud from Saturday’s event and so I was wearing shoes that were not meant for trekking around the squishy uneven ground of a cemetery, so I settled for exploring just 1 and a 1/4 sections of the cemetery.

The zinker I spotted from the road was this one:

It’s for the Spinks family, and three of the four sides contain the names of the family.
John C. Spink

Spink children

The photos really show how much the appearance of a zinker can change depending on the available light.

Christina Spink

The fourth side contains a decorative panel, a placeholder for additional family members if they needed to be added.

We found the other zinker over in the next section on a rapidly disintegrating concrete base.

This one had a “family record” on one side with the names, birthplaces, and birth years of all the family members listed.

What made this zinker different from others I have seen is that the two sides do not seem to be removable panels. There is no sign of the decorative screws that would verify that these are panels.

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