Posts Tagged ‘western reserve’


Anner Maria Hudston Baldwin

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According to some websites that analyze tombstone symbolism, a hammer can be a symbol of creation. However, based on the realistic carving of a modern hammer on Homer Woodburn’s grave marker, I’m going to guess that’s it’s more likely a representation of his profession. I am still trying to confirm that this passage in History of the Western Reserve refers to this Homer Woodburn. The passage refers to a contractor of that name who lived in Dayton, Ohio, in the early 20th century.


Tombstone for Homer M. Woodburn, with a hammer engraved between birth year 1869 and death year 1948

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Looking through my photographs from Old Hudson Township Burying Ground, I found tombstones for classmates.  You may recall that the graveyard adjoins the campus of Western Reserve Academy.

If you look carefully, you can read the words “Our Classmate” above Jacob Harshman’s name.  As far as I can see, he died in 1861.


Tunis V. Wilson died in 1849, less than a year after he graduated with the Class of 1848. The tombstone doesn’t tell you why he was buried by his alma mater. In the 19th century it was much more common for young men and women who completed advanced education to remain at those institutions as instructors after completing their studies. Maybe that is why he sleeps so close to the Academy.


Finally, we have the detailed stones for Flavel Loomis, native of New York state.  Loomis died while enrolled at the school at the age of 22, and, his gravestone informs us, his classmates buried him and provided his memorial.


We don’t live in a culture where dying while in school or within a year or two of completing school is a common occurrence. Yet, before the days of our advanced medical technology, it happened frequently. It is striking how different the world of a hundred or so years ago was.

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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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