Friday, November 28, 2003

Saving family cemetery in works



By Anna Michael
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON TWP. - Hidden under high brush near a deep ravine lies a family history the Mounts' family descendants are now yearning to uncover.

It's a small cemetery, near U.S. 22 and Ohio 3, but to nine relatives of some of Warren County's first settlers, it's a treasure trove of information.

Now, they're working with township officials to sort through land deeds and find a permanent access to the gravestones, split by property lines. Eventually, they hope the township might even take over caring for the property.

"My interest in this is with the way everything is building up, someone is going to plow it under," said David Ehling of Sharonville, the great-grandson four times over of Revolutionary War veteran William Mounts and his wife Catharine. "I am trying to preserve it. It is falling apart, but it is still there."

Divided ownership

This is not the only township cemetery that is deteriorating - township trustee Clyde Baston says there are at least three others - but it is the first time the cemetery is divided on different properties.

The overgrown Mounts cemetery has nine remaining headstones, but the family believes many more were buried there, including William and Catharine Mounts. He was a 2nd lieutenant in the Eighth Pennsylvania Regiment, as well as a private in the Westmoreland County Pennsylvania Militia.

Owners of the properties that split the Mounts cemetery have tried to keep the brush down. But township officials would need to attain an easement to have round-the-clock access to maintain the burial grounds.

Property owners have expressed some interest in cooperating, but if they do not formally agree by the end of the year, the issue will be turned over to lawyers. At this point, a deed search will be conducted to determine if the cemetery has been deeded back to the landowners.

"The cemetery could have been considered part of a lot because it was abandoned," Township Clerk Jackie Terwilleger said. "It may not have been put into the deed as a cemetery."

The trustees say they cannot have the deed search completed until the first of the year because of the high cost - upwards of $2,000. However, during Ehling's research, he found the Mounts' cemetery deed.

"We do have the deed. It is in court records," he said. "Whether its valid now is the dispute."

While some places do preserve the family cemeteries - in Cuyahoga County and Richland County, they were preserved in the middle of a shopping center - all too often they are destroyed, Katie Karrick, founder and president of the Ohio Cemetery Preservation Society, said.

"You come across a lot of cemeteries that have been plowed under," she said. "Unfortunately, Ohio is not very protective of burial grounds if someone else owns the property."




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