Posts Tagged ‘war of 1812’


Walden Myer (2)

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Bennet Riley detail

Major General Bennet Riley was the last military governor of California before it achieved statehood. Riley had a lengthy military career, enlisting as a young man and first serving in the War of 1812. He fought in the wars with Native Americans in the south, including the Seminole Was. Following his service as a general in the Mexican-American War, he took up his post in California as military governor. He gave his name to both Fort Riley and Riley County in Kansas.

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Much of cemetery research is piecing together little tidbits of information from dozens of different sources to finally weave together some fragment of a story about the deceased. It means that just about any story you can learn enough to weave together is going to be more information that a casual visitor to the cemetery has at hand.

And then you encounter a tombstone like this.

Gamaliel Fenton

What else can I tell you about Gamaliel Fenton? This is more information than I usually can dream about finding on someone buried in a cemetery. In this case, I think the story of the memorial itself is probably more elusive than the story of this life.

As you have probably guessed, the stone pictured above is not Gamaliel Fenton’s original tombstone. It sits next to an earlier monument for himself, his wife, and at least some of his sons. I don’t know if this monument is original to the date of his death.

Gamaliel Fenton

Information on Fenton’s intricate tombstone is sketchy at best at the moment. I’ve found a reference stating that it was unveiled as part of a public ceremony in 1941, but no more information than that. I will have to dig into the old newspapers to find out who sponsored and created the stone to honor him.

Both of Gamaliel Fenton's tombstones

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Seth Cogswell Baldwin

Timothy Doan

Veterans Day seems an appropriate time to share this information. Did you know that the Department of Veterans Affairs will provide, free of charge, a government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of a veteran of the United States Armed Forces? There are documentation requirements to be met of course, and possible costs involved in setting the stone if the veteran is in a non-military/veterans’ cemetery. So if your research has lead you to the conclusion that there is a veteran buried in your local cemetery whose resting place is not marked, you may want to review this information.

Thomas J. Hudson

Claude Edward Tucker

The fruits of this program can be viewed in many cemeteries, but I think the finest example is here is in East Cleveland Township Cemetery, where you can see graves of veterans of major American conflicts from the Revolution to World War I marked with crisp, clean markers that are clearly not original.

Carl Stewart Todd

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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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Lakeside Cemetery

Lakeside Cemetery

Recently I took a drive out to Lakeside Cemetery in Bay Village, Ohio. As the name implies, Lakeside sits directly on the shore of Lake Erie, surrounded by a little iron fence and tucked neatly in between two private homes. The entire cemetery is only about half of an acre, with a single unpaved lane looping through it. And you know what? It’s beautiful. Even for someone who finds cemeteries in general to be lovely places to spend an afternoon, Lakeside is special.

Lakeside Cemetery

The first burial in the cemetery was in 1814, when Rebecca Porter and her infant son Dennis drowned in the lake. The Porter graves have a shiny, newer granite monument to mark them, but their original headstones still stand.
Asahel and Rebecca Porter


Asahel Porter, a War of 1812 veteran, was the brother-in-law of Reuben Osborn, another early settler who owned the land that became the cemetery.
Reuben Osborn

Reuben’s wife Sarah was the sister of the unfortunate Rebecca, commemorated forever as the first to be buried there.
Sarah Osborn

The Cahoons, Joseph and Lydia, have a new monument as well, honoring them as the first setters in the township. A park not far down the road bears the Cahoon name and is the site where the family originally settled.

There are also plenty of older tombstones, chronicling the sorrows now forgotten that people here experienced.
Richard Foot

Joel Cahoon, drowned

William Scholl

The only statue in the cemetery is on another Cahoon family monument, but the cemetery is so tiny that the mourner atop the pedestal can easily be imagined to be looking over all the graves in this tiny patch of waterfront.
Cahoon monument


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I took a few days off from posting because I had an event that I was helping to run.  Today, as part of recovering from that, my two friends and I went to two cemeteries in the area around Oxford, Ohio.

Our first stop was the cemetery at Historic Hopewell Church, which was founded in 1808, although the existing building dates from 1826. The church and cemetery are outside of Oxford, Ohio, on Camden-College Corner Road, north of Hueston Woods State Park. The historical marker notes that the first burial in the cemetery was Thomas McDill, a War of 1812 veteran who died the next year.  I suspect this may be a photograph of the grave marker that includes his name because of the War of 1812 marker next to it, but if it is, I photographed the wrong side to read his name.


This cemetery is still active, as evidenced by at least one relatively new grave we saw.  According to the text on the historical marker, there are a number of Revolutionary War veterans buried here, but we didn’t see any marked as such.

The single most fascinating marker I saw was this one.
Margaret Vandegriff

I don’t know much about Margaret Vandegriff, but the intricate carving on her tombstone has made her a local notable, if posthumously. The Hopewell Historic Church itself uses a photograph on the website, and a pamphlet on funeral and mourning customs at the McGuffey House uses it on the cover. It’s a little hard to make out, even in the detail shot, but the tomb the female figure is sitting on actually has text on it, most of which is worn away, but we could make out “memory” and “Vandegriff.”

Margaret Vandegriff

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