President’s Letter Oct. 2014
Hello out there. My how time flies. Summer is gone and winter is soon approaching. Again the change of seasons came very quickly. On a Thursday I was swimming in the pool and by Saturday I was wearing my long johns. The weather for the fall festival was warmer than usual. The warm air brought the bees out in droves and created a rather nerve racking experience. I missed most of the festival as I had a touch of the flue. A big thanks to Dick, Dave and Ruth for manning our booth. We had the Whatzit display, a cheerleading display with pictures of Troy-Luckey cheerleaders and a map of Luckey with old photographs of many different locations. We had many visitors to enjoy our displays. After the warm fall festival weekend the temperatures have plummeted and I am longing for a warm fall day to go outside, get some painting done and enjoy the color changes. It doesn’t look like I am going to get weather warm enough for either.
My information for you this month comes from a book published by the Wood County Chapter of The Ohio Genealogical Society, Jan 1992. Titled “Cemeteries in Webster Township and Restlawn in Troy Township Wood County, OH”. The Webster Township Cemetery is the most historic cemetery in Wood County. The Troy Township Cemetery in Luckey was established around 1855, while the Webster Cemetery was established in 1835.
WEBSTER TOWNSHIP CEMETERY
Wood County, Ohio was officially organized in 1820 and it was at about the same time that the survey of Webster Township was completed. The official establishment of the township did not come until the end of 1846 but early settlement of the area preceded this date by at least ten years. Census figures indicate that the population of Webster Township was 237 by 1850. The land on which Webster Township Cemetery is located was purchased from the United States government on December 13, 1835. According to the “Webster/Loomis Township Cemetery” index compiled by James Blum (1976), Levi Loomis died on January 26, 1836 at the age of 34. The gravestone that bears the name of Levi Loomis was erected at a much later date as it is a granite monument. This material for gravemarkers did not come into use in this area until about 1880. It is unknown whether a different stone previously marked this gravesite.
From this, it would appear that Mr. Loomis died shortly after receiving title to this land. However, he may have been clearing and settling the land prior to the official date shown in the conveyance records. This conjecture is supported by the reminiscences of Robert Fenton recorded in 1883:
Not very long after, my father and Robert Stewart’s father went to hunt land out the McCutchenville road, which had been underbrushed out the winter before, William Muir, Sr., being one of the party, and living in tents while cutting the road, as far as the Portage river, now Householder’s Corners. They came to where Levi Loomis had just started in the woods and had made a small opening. He was a man who had a good knowledge of the woods and where the section lines where, the land having been bur a short time before surveyed Mr. Loomis showed my father and Mr. Stewart the land where Hugh Stewart now lives, and adjoining the farm that David Main now lives on, eighty acres each. Mr. Loomis gave them a description of the land, and the men had to go to Bucyrus to the land office to enter it at $1.25 per acre. (Commemorative Historical and Biographical Record of Wood County, Ohio; Its Past and Present, Published by J. H. Beers, Chicago, 1897, p. 418).
A further comment by Fenton bears testimony to the hardships of the early settlers of the Black Swamp:
At the time of the death of Mr. Loomis, which was at a very early day, roads were nearly impassable and the settlement was without material with which to make a coffin for his burial. In this emergency, Alex Vass, of Perrysburg, a carpenter by trade, cut a straight green Oak tree, split out slabs, dressed them nicely and made a coffin. It was so heavy that it took the united strength of all the men present to handle the coffin after the body was in it. Such were the rude devices which necessity forced us to. (ibid, p. 419)
According to Beers, Levi Loomis passed away on the road near the Ten Mile House. This probably refers to State Route 199. Fletcher notes that the Ten Mile House was a type of Public meeting house used for various functions including a post office at one time. (Fletcher, Lyle, An Historical Gazetteer of Wood County, Ohio, published by Whipporwill, Evansville, Indiana, 1989). It was located on McCutchenville road near the center of Webster Township.
As with most older cemeteries in the Black Swamp, Webster Township Cemetery was founded atop a sand ridge. Topographic records indicate that the highest contour in the cemetery is 680 feet, (this is based on a five foot contour interval). The highest elevation of surrounding ground is 675 feet.
Before widespread adaption of the name, “Webster Township Cemetery,” the burial ground was also known as ‘Scotch Ridge Cemetery’ or ‘Loomis Cemetery’. In 1855, George Loomis sold one acre of this land to the Webster Township trustees for the purpose of burying ground. However, several internments had taken place prior to this transfer. The diversity of these early names would suggest that this was not a “family plot” in the strict sense of the word.
The old cemetery of Scotch Ridge is the most historic spot in the county. Many monuments, not a few of them works of art, remind the visitor of the pioneers and tell plainly how their children respect their memory. Among the old settlers buried there are Thomas Forrester, who died in 1835; Levi Loomis, 1836; died on the road near the Ten Mile House; Ellen S. Davidson, 1841; Ann Anderson, 1844; James Waugh, 1845; Philinda D. Sneeden and Mary Dunipace, 1846; William Waugh, 1847; Margaret and William Stewart, and Roswell Canfield, 1848; James Corbett, 1850; Samuel Muir’s child, 1851; Daniel Hathaway, Lewis Zimmerman, Jean Addie Forrest and Hugh Stewart, 1852. . . . (Beers, op. cit.pp 419 – 20).
Additional land donations to the Cemetery were made by George Loomis (3-1/2 acres in 1881), David H. Loomis (.08 acres in 1942), and Clifford and Hazel Loomis (3 acres in 1958).
Webster Township Cemetery is laid out in a rectangular and somewhat linear fashion. The oldest gravesites are located near the entrance, on the hill at the east end of the cemetery. Later internments follow a chronological pattern of dispersion to the west. The addition of newer property to the south will slightly change this pattern in the future.
The somewhat lengthy entrance drive has helped to isolate the cemetery from traffic on S. R. 199. Recent additions of chain –link fencing have helped to discourage unwanted visitors and potential vandals. Planned landscaping of Arborvitae (White Cedar) has not only enhanced the appearance of the cemetery, but has also checked wind erosion. The Arborvitae (Latin for ‘Tree of Life’), has symbolically been associated with Midwestern cemeteries for many decades. From a more functional perspective, it is a fast growing evergreen tree which provides ample protection from the elements.
The grave monuments of Webster Township Cemetery are fairly typical for the Black Swamp area. Marble tablets were widely used from about 1850 through 1875. Granite began to appear about 1880 and has been the preferred material ever since. During the Victorian years, tombstones emphasized height and three-dimensional aspects. Cast-zinc monuments were sold throughout this area and the Salman Vanglider monument is an excellent example of this work as it was ordered from the Monumental Bronze Co., Bridgeport, Connecticut. This particular company was taken over during World War I by the U. S. Government for the purpose of munition manufacturing and shortly thereafter, went out of business. Many local cemeteries contain good examples of cast-zinc monuments but few if any reveal dates later than 1910.
Local folklore in the Scotch Ridge area claims that one of Webster Township Cemetery’s gravestones is a meteorite. While several people attested to the fact that a meteor shower took place, the particular stone in question has not been verified to be a meteorite under geological scrutiny. This in no way diminishes the find of this particular stone since it is unusual for the area. It is more likely that this particular rock was part of the glacial debris that occasionally works its way to the surface from lower levels.
Those of you who have read the history of Scotch Ridge should enjoy walking through the Webster Cemetery. It is like old home week. Monuments to the Muirs, Householders, Davidsons, Wights, Dunipaces…the list goes on.
Next meeting; Oct. 16, 2014 at 6:30 in the Luckey Library. Hope to see you there.
Over and Out