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Obscure graveyard final resting place for soldier

December 23, 2011
Evan Bevins (ebevins@mariettatimes.com) , The Marietta Times

LOWER NEWPORT - When Milwaukee resident Lucy Friedrichs returns to her native Washington County, her stops often include visits to Mound Cemetery and East Lawn Memorial Park, as well as a lesser-known burial site.

Off Ohio 7, across from Haessly Hardwood Lumber and adjacent to Shelly Materials' Willow Island site's gravel pit, is the Old Barker Cemetery, which includes the Goodman Cemetery, according to www.newporthistory.org. It's there that Revolutionary War veteran Benjamin Racer, a private in the Pennsylvania militia and an ancestor of Friedrichs, is laid to rest.

"I mostly just stand and drink in the ... natural setting," said Friedrichs, 67, a 1966 graduate of Marietta High School.

Article Photos

EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Newport Township Trustee Randy Jackson discusses the Old Barker Cemetery, also known as the Goodman or Sheets Cemetery, as he looks over markers for Revolutionary War veteran Benjamin Racer and his family.

Friedrichs, whose maiden name is Racer, remembers when that natural setting was a bit larger and earlier this year contacted Newport Township Trustee Randy Jackson with concerns that a road used by Shelly Materials was encroaching too close to the cemetery.

Because the township is responsible for Old Barker and six other cemeteries, Jackson contacted the company, who assured him the road wouldn't move any closer to the graves.

"He assured me the road was as far as it was going to come this way," Jackson said of his conversation with an employee.

Fact Box

About Old Barker Cemetery

Located off Ohio 7 adjacent to the Shelly Materials Willow Island site.

Includes the Goodman Cemetery, also known as Sheets Cemetery.

Cared for by Newport Township trustees.

Nearly 170 people are buried in the Old Barker and Goodman cemeteries, according to documents from the Washington County Local History and Genealogy Library.

At least two Revolutionary War veterans, Henry Middleswart and Benjamin Racer, are buried there.

Source: Times research

The company also plans to add gravel for a couple of parking spaces and move some equipment, he said, although no timetable has been established.

Jackson said Shelly has always been good about cooperating with the township.

A call to the company headquarters in Thornville was not returned Thursday afternoon.

While Racer is not listed on an index of graves for Old Barker at the Washington County Local History and Genealogy Library, he is included in a listing for the Goodman Cemetery, which is located nearby on county maps. Jackson said he's only ever heard the cemetery where Racer is buried as Old Barker, and the website www.newportohiohistory.com lists both cemeteries together.

The cemetery is seldom visited and most of its markers are no longer legible, some of them cracked and fallen. But Jackson said it's important for the trustees to do what they can to maintain the site, as he would want done for the final resting places of his family members.

"Someone's related to them," he said of the people buried there. "I'm certain that everybody in here probably has a living relative somewhere down the line."

And some, like Friedrichs, do visit from time to time.

"My family was pretty good at talking about the family history," she said. "It's just a way to stay tied to ... the past."

Another Revolutionary War ancestor of Freidrichs', Col. Robert Taylor, is buried in Mound Cemetery, and a number of members of the Racer side of her family are interred in Valley Cemetery, adjacent to East Lawn Memorial Park in Reno.

Friedrichs, who has lived in Milwaukee since moving there in 1966 for an internship, said she's considering returning to Valley Cemetery one final time - to be laid to rest alongside other members of her family.

 
 

 

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