Effort under way to accurately map cemeteries

A group of Marietta College students, faculty and other interested community members outlined plans for the next several months of project development in the new endeavor titled: Marietta Cemeteries Coming Alive.

Creating accurate burial map information about Marietta’s most famous cemetery, Mound Cemetery in the heart of the historic district on Fifth Street was selected as an immediate project. Marietta College’s Bob Van Camp has an upper level computer sciences class of nine students who are working with the project. Mound was selected because of its historical importance, its limited size and layout.

Marietta Cemeteries Coming Alive is a project to create a user friendly electronic data base for burial information and to partner with the city in repair and upkeep of the historic cemeteries. Oak Grove, in particular, experienced heavy damage in the June 29 storm, with huge trees upended upon 17 tombstones and obelisks.

Group members agreed that it was wise to begin with more simple, less complicated burial information rather than tackling the 55-acre Oak Grove Cemetery initially. Three group members, however, Alicia Wright, Latella Cockrell and Shirley Harmon, already are inputting the burial information from Oak Grove Cemetery Interment Journal 2 covering 1931 through 1968. That work will continue parallel to the work on Mound Cemetery. Computer server space is being provided for the project by the Washington County Genealogy Society.

Washington County Public Library genealogist Ernie Thode presented a new “Cleveland Cemeteries on Family Search!” website placed online Feb. 6. Thode suggested the Cleveland Cemeteries information is a model for the type of format that could be pursued locally.

Castle Executive Director Scott Brittan said the Westerville, Ohio, website also offers an extensive online amount of burial information about the dead in that community. Both Cleveland and Westerville will be reviewed as the local group continues its planning process.

Attendees discussed the need for creating accurate mapping of Marietta’s three historic cemeteries, including Harmar. Discussion included getting recently taken aerial photographs and getting them integrated with GPS (Ground Positioning Surveys). That information will assist in the locating of the thousands of burials being organized in the electronic data base.

Ohio Department of Transportation engineer and history buff Tony Durm expressed his concern that burial research and information accumulation be done in a manner so the information is accurate and may be trusted.

Harmon said not only are there various spellings for people’s names: Putman rather than the correct Putnam, but also creative spellings of causes of death, such as hemorrhage or arteriosclerosis. Records are being transcribed as originally written, said Chris Painter, who is organizing the information, but it will be proof read and compared for accuracy.

Marietta College student Alicia Wright agreed to speak with Marietta Community Foundation officials about setting up a fund for the group’s work.

Marietta Cemeteries Coming Alive is meeting again at 4 p.m. Feb. 27 in the MC Legacy Library. For information or to volunteer: Roger G. Kalter at rogerkalter1@yahoo.com or (740) 373-1784.

Marietta City Councilman Roger G. Kalter, D-1st Ward, is chairman of council’s planning, zoning, annexation and housing committee.