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Beverly Cemetery tells of tragedy

February 18, 2012
By Ashley Rittenhouse (arittenhouse@mariettatimes.com) , The Marietta Times

BEVERLY- As the Buckeye Bell steamboat left the upper gates of the Beverly Canal on Nov. 12, 1852, its boilers became overheated and the boat exploded, producing flames that were seen more than a mile away.

Thirteen unidentified people killed in the explosion were laid to rest in the Beverly Cemetery. A large stone there bears a plaque which tells the story of the incident, which remains the worst tragedy that has ever occurred on the Muskingum River.

"There were 20 people killed (instantly) altogether and 40 injured, but the 13 unknown are buried there," said Mike McCurdy, owner of McCurdy Funeral Home in Beverly and a member of the cemetery's board of trustees.

Article Photos

ASHLEY RITTENHOUSE The Marietta Times
Mike McCurdy, owner of McCurdy Funeral Home in Beverly and a member of the Beverly Cemetery board of trustees, strolls through the Beverly Cemetery Friday afternoon. There are about 5,000 people buried there, including Oliver Tucker, for whom the Oliver Tucker Museum in Beverly is named.

The cemetery is located on Ohio 339 in Beverly, with a large archway that reads "Beverly Cemetery" standing at its entrance. Owned by the village of Beverly, it is maintained by village employees, with the board of trustees meeting a few times a year to discuss its needs.

"The arch that's in the cemetery, that was built in 1907 and the village had it restored just a few years ago," McCurdy said.

McCurdy said his card file, in which much of the cemetery's early history is recorded, indicates that the first burials occurred in the cemetery in the early 1850s.

Fact Box

Beverly Cemetery:

Located on Ohio 339 in Beverly and owned by the village of Beverly.

Officially established in the early 1850s.

There are about 5,000 people buried there, including 13 unidentified people who died when the Buckeye Bell steamboat exploded on the Muskingum River in 1852.

"Some of the oldest records I found from around 1850 show that a plot of six graves sold for $3. Today they run around $200 a grave," he said. "There are approximately 1,400 grave plots that have been sold through the years and approximately 5,000 buried in the cemetery, but we still have plenty of room."

Still, Phill Crane, a member of the Lower Muskingum Historical Society, pointed out that some markers in the cemetery bear dates of death prior to the 1850s.

"The card file was started after there had already been several burials - many of the cards for the early burials have no date when the lot was purchased," Crane said.

One of the most well known people buried in the cemetery is Oliver Tucker, for whom the Oliver Tucker Museum in Beverly is named. He was a prominent businessman, known for working as a clerk at the J.D. Bain Store in Waterford Township and then buying the store in 1855. He lived from 1832 to 1922 and was a successful merchant until his death.

"He was the second president of the Citizens Bank Company...from 1889 to 1921," McCurdy noted.

McCurdy said the first president of the Citizens Bank Company, Enoch S. McIntosh, is also buried in the cemetery. He was born in 1793 and served as president of the bank from 1875 until his death in 1889. He was also the first president of the cemetery committee and built the first mill in Beverly.

Crane said Lt. Richard "Dick" B. Cheatham, who was mustered into the 63rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry on Oct. 9, 1861, is also buried in the cemetery. He was the first Civil War soldier brought back to Beverly for burial and the Grand Army of the Republic Post at Beverly was eventually named after him.

"He must have planned for the worst because his file card shows he purchased a burial plot in 1861 for $5. He died in camp at Memphis, Tenn. in 1864," Crane said.

 
 

 

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