David's Reformed Church Congregation

David's Reformed Church Congregation
Congregation of David's Reformed Church, Montgomery Co, Ohio, Circa, 1900

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday - Cemetery Road Trip

Old Dutch Cemetery, Highland County, Ohio

A couple of years ago, I got inspired to take a cemetery road trip.  Both my husband and I have family members who were early settlers in several southern Ohio counties and I got the brilliant idea that we could take a drive down to visit four cemeteries where we would most likely find the gravesites of some of our ancestors.   Beginning with my Shoemaker ancestors in Old Dutch Cemetery in Highland County, Ohio, following up with Locust Grove Cemetery near Peebles in Adams County, Ohio and finishing up with my husband's Odle-O'Dell family at Friendship and Odle-Piatt Cemeteries in Turkey Creek, Scioto County, Ohio.  With the use of Google Maps and good advice from some helpful online friends, I created an itinerary that I thought would make for trip of great discovery.  Now, I just had to convince my family this would be fun.  My husband wasn't hard to convince.  Even though he really didn't have a clue which of his relatives I was really looking for, he was ready for some time away from his job. job.  The kids were going to be a harder sell.  Two teenaged and one "tween" boy were not going to be enamoured by the thought of driving for several hours and stopping only to visit cemeteries where they were going to be put to work looking for names.   So, I decided I would make this a getaway weekend and we would find a motel with a pool for a night.  I figured if they knew there was a pool and some in room movies waiting for them, I could get them through the 6 or 8 hours of sheer agony they were going to have to endure.   So I presented them with the agenda, and even though they weren't thrilled, they decided it might not be torture.
With their acceptance, I began to check out the cemeteries a little more closely so I would be prepared when I arrived.  The one that most concerned me was Old Dutch.  It looked as though it was located in the middle of a cornfield and according to some accounts I read, it was surrounded by a locked gate. Oh great.  How was I going to get someone to unlock the gate for me.  I emailed the Highland County Sheriff's Dept.  and asked if someone could unlock the gate for me when I arrived. They must have thought I was completely daft because I never received an answer.   So, I decided I would take a small ladder along; just in case!
The day arrived and we loaded the car with all the essentials. Maps, notebooks, pens, and camera for my husband and me and snacks and games for the boys.  We headed out and made it to Highland County in a little over an hour.   Sure enough, Old Dutch was located off the road, behind a cornfield.  We had to drive through a little cleared area of grass next to the field.  I kept thinking the farmer wasn't going to be happy with us!  When we arrived at the cemetery I was pleasantly surprised by how well kept it was and how beautiful and serene the area around it was.   Purple wildflowers bloomed throughout the grass and the stones were in very good condition.  Some that had broken had been meticulously repaired.  It was here that I found the gravesites of Samuel and Julia Ann Weaver Shoemaker, my paternal 4th great grandparents, as well as those of several of my distant Shoemaker cousins.

 Since the cemetery was small, my sons didn't have to look too hard for names, so they decided they would busy themselves with bothering the ground spiders that were plentiful throughout Old Dutch.  They discovered if they took a stick and moved it anywhere near the hole of the spider's den, they could get the spider to jump out at them.  As a future science teacher, my oldest son found that fascinating.  So far, so good!

The next stop was Locust Grove Cemetery in Adams County, a little farther southeast.  It was about another hours drive to reach our destination and further into the country.  I couldn't help but wonder how much the land had changed since my relatives had lived there.   When we reached the cemetery, I was surprised at it's size.  I knew I would be putting the kids to work there.  We didn't see any type of cemetery office, although since it is a working cemetery, I know there must have been one around somewhere.  It was here that I found the gravesite of my great grandparents, Thomas and Roseanna Varvel Shoemaker and  those of many of my great aunts and uncles, as well as that of  my great great grandfather, Jacob Shoemaker. 

We spent quite a bit of time at Locust Grove.  I really hated to leave; fearing I would miss someone.  But, the day was getting late and we still had a drive ahead. 
Time to head toward Friendship Cemetery in Turkey Creek, Scioto County. 
I didn't know a lot about where we were headed, except for the fact that it was close to the banks of the Ohio River and very near the Shawnee State Forest and Resort.  Some of the land that was once owned by the Odle's was sold to the state of Ohio when the forest was being created.  As we drew nearer to the area, the geography was becoming even more rural.  If you have ever been through the southern and southeastern portion of my state, you will know what I am talking about.   I thought how difficult it must have been to farm in this area because of all the hills.   We had some trouble finding just where we were going. This was before GPS devices had come into vogue and we certainly didn't have one!  Up until this point, even though the weather was threatening, we had had no rain.  The kids were getting a little tired and I have to admit, I was getting kind of cranky myself.  We finally found the cemetery and the church it surrounded was one of the prettiest country churches I have ever seen.

And, of course, it was just then that it began to rain, the kids started to complain and they became a huge pain!
Luckily, my husband took it in stride, determined that we were not going to come all this way and not discover his family.  The cemetery is medium sized, so it wasn't too difficult to find our way around.  It was here that we found the gravesites of my husband's maternal great grandparents, Andrew Jackson and Bertha Welty O'Dell.

We also found the burial place of  his great great grandparents, William and Angeline Piatt Welty and  those of several  of his great aunts and uncles.  It was quickly becoming a very good trip for us!
With one last stop to make, the rain began to slow down.  The next cemetery was a little more difficult to find. 
The Odle-Piatt Cemetery is very small and quite overgrown with weeds, but we did finally locate it.  After the spider episode, the boys were a little less inclined to enter an area that looked like such a wonderful home for other creepy crawlers, so my husband and I let them wait in the car.  It was here that we located the gravesite of  my husband's great great grandparents, Nelson and Sarah Walker Odle, and several of their children.  
By this time, we were all worn out, but feeling like we had done a good day's worth of research.  With the final pictures taken we headed to Portsmouth and that promised swimming pool.

It's been a couple of years since we headed out on our Southern Ohio Cemetery Road Trip and I sure am ready to head out again.  Didn't they say it was going to be 50 degrees this weekend?    Hey kids.........


  1. What a wonderful trip! My whole family would never take a trip like this. I can get a kid to go here and there around our local town. But never a road trip specifically to go to a few cemeteries.

  2. They knew if they wanted to eat that weekend, they had to go with me! :)

  3. Lori, that was a dream trip. Gosh, please send that weather my way (east to Mass.). Seeing all these tombstone photos each Tuesday has me itching to get searching as well. Our snow is all melted, ya.

  4. That is my favorite thing to do on a Sunday! My daughter used to love it when she was little. I'd give her a card with the surname I was searching for, and we'd race to see who found it first!

  5. Hi Lori, I may be related to Samuel and Julia
    Shoemaker too. My gr grandma is Esther or
    Easter Shoemaker buried st Locust Grove in Ohio. Her dad was Martin Shoemaker who is supposed to be there too, but I couldn't find the graves. My grandma used to speak about the Old Dutch cemetery - so Samuel and Julia could be my 4th greats, contact me to try to help me fill in my missing fsmily tree info. Margaret Coogan. margaretcoogan87@gmail.com

    1. Have you looked at Ashton Martin Shoemaker??

  6. Lori, Samuel & Julia are my 5th great-grandparents. Jacob Caplinger/Jemima Shoemaker/John Shoemaker & Barbara Countryman. Sounds like you had a wonderful and successful trip! My mother and I have been doing little day or evening trips to a few of the cemeteries to get information. I love it! I live in Greene County. You can contact me on facebook at kimberly.stackhouse.3@facebook.com

  7. Samuel and Julia Ann are my 5th Greta Grandparents.
    Samuel Shoemaker & Julia Ann Weaver
    Frances Hiram Smith & Emily Countryman
    John Thomas Fletcher& Jenny Bell Smith
    Vollie McMurray & Mary Edith Fletcher
    Albert Harold Ingram & Ruth Ellen McMurray
    Craig William Greene & Carolyn Sue Ingram
    Me- Danièl Michelle Greene (m. Brandon Paul Lehr)

    1. I too am related through Frances Hiram Smith and Emily Countryman. My maiden name is Mercer.

    2. Francis Hiram Smith and Emily L. Countryman is my fourth great grandparents.

    3. Emily L. Countrymans parents are Elijah Martin and Susan Shoemaker Countryman

  8. My husband and I are both related to the Shoemaker's at Old Dutch. lol
    Mine is through my Mercer side (maiden name) and my husband through obviously the Shoemaker's.
    My husbands gg grandfather was Ashton Martin Shoemaker.