November 23, 2014

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Family uncovers forgotten cemetery

VERMILION – They`re supposed to be places where the dead can rest forever and be remembered and reflected upon by the living, but a cemetery on Lake Road in Vermilion was anything but – until it was uncovered this summer in a fit of curiosity.

Ruth Langham and her children Dawn, 15, and Stanley, 12, all of Brownhelm Township, had heard that there was a cemetery in the area, but they didn`t anticipate actually finding one when they uncovered the 200-year-old graveyard that`s been the resting ground for 29 Brownhelm settlers.

It`s the burial ground for Revolutionary War soldier Bildad Belden and the founder of Brownhelm, Col. Henry Brown.

Somehow, in the midst of the developments of time and change, the near-ancient burial ground became overgrown with weeds and the headstones had been trampled and broken.

So far, Langham and a team of volunteers from the Brownhelm Historical Society have uncovered 29 burial plots and 21 headstones, all of which were still legible.

“It started off as a curiosity,” Langham said. “We`d heard about this cemetery through the grapevine, and wondered if it really existed. We didn`t exactly plan on it becoming such a huge project, but once we started looking into the history of it all, we became more and more interested in it.”
Langham has spent at least two days per week at the site since its discovery in July.

“We`ve put down mulch, cleared trees and brush, and have started looking into the history of those who rest there,” she said.

A local excavation company volunteered its time and effort in clearing the lot, a job Langham couldn`t have done alone, she said.

“They were such a nice bunch of guys,” Langham said. “Very helpful, very polite – each of them introduced themselves to me. They got more done in one afternoon than I could have gotten done all summer long. It appears this project has really brought the community together.”

Brownhelm Township Historical Society member Mary Brill said that the organization is in the process of having the land and sites surveyed, and that an in-depth look at the historical records will be performed so that they may give proper respect to those who were laid to rest there.

“We`ve kind of dubbed it as the forgotten cemetery,” Brill said. “Many of the graves are written in German, dating as far back as 1822.”

Brill said that the owner of the 1 acre parcel has donated it to the society, and that it will soon be fenced in and be brought up to Ohio code. The Brownhelm Historical Society plans on naming it the Lake Road Cemetery because historical records show that as its original name.

One thing is for certain, though, this cemetery will never be forgotten again.

Contact LeeAnn Mullen at 329-7155 or metro@chroniclet.com.