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Grave Matters: Union Cemetery

Markers of Revolutionary War vets restored

June 1, 2012
By Evan Bevins ( , The Marietta Times

Local volunteers recently worked to restore the markers for a pair of Revolutionary War veterans buried in Union Cemetery, a Fairfield Township graveyard where people are still laid to rest today.

Members of the Marietta Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution cleaned the stone for Thomas Perry, a New Jersey native who settled in Palmer Township in 1825, May 4 with the help of Steve Hanson, a trustee for Windsor Township in Morgan County. Rain prevented them from reassembling the stone, which had broken in half, but Jean Yost, president of the chapter, said they plan to finish the job soon.

"The pieces match up well, so we should be able to get it back up without any problem," he said.

Article Photos

Photos submitted by Jean Yost.
David White, vice president of the local chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, left, and Windsor Township Trustee Steve Hanson work to restore the grave marker of Revolutionary War veteran Thomas Perry on May 4 at Union Cemetery in Fairfield Township.

Hanson took a course on marker restoration from an Indiana-based company called Graveyard Groomer. He became interested in the practice after locating some family members' stones that had fallen into disrepair and because of his duties with the township, which is responsible for multiple cemeteries.

"It just looked awful disrespectful to the dead people if we left (the markers) laying where they were," Hanson said.

On the same day they worked on Perry's marker, the group also straightened the headstone of Thomas Lake, which was tilting at about a 60-degree angle because of a tree root pressing against it, Yost said.

Fact Box

Union Cemetery

- Location: Union Cemetery Road off Ohio 550 west of Layman.

- Alternate name: Fairfield Universalist.

- Cared for by: Fairfield Township trustees.

- Most recent burial: April 2012.

Source: Times research.

"We dug down about two-and-a-half, almost three feet deep to the bottom of his stone to straighten it," Yost said.

A marker at his gravesite indicates Lake served in the Revolutionary War, as did his parents, Mary (Bird) and Archibald Lake.

"Both his father and mother served in a military hospital" in New York, Yost said. "I've read several places that George Washington commended (Mary Lake) a number of times because of her service to the troops."

Mary Lake is also known as the first teacher in the Marietta area, a job she took on at Campus Martius.

Some records suggest Mary Lake is buried alongside her son in Union Cemetery, but Yost said it appears she was actually laid to rest in Rainbow Cemetery in Lowell, where a marker bears her name. She died in 1796, before people would have settled the area where Union Cemetery is located.

"There wasn't anybody living in Fairfield ... in 1796," he said.

Situated on Union Cemetery Road off Ohio 550 west of Layman, the cemetery was once known as the Fairfield Universalist Cemetery, according to records at the Washington County Public Library's Local History and Genealogy Branch. The church, which is no longer there, once housed a Universalist congregation but was built in 1867 as a union church, meaning it served more than one denomination, according to "Williams' History of Washington County."

While that's the earliest reference to the church, there are burials at the cemetery that predate it. At least one is for a person who died in 1823. Yost said there could have been another church there prior to it becoming a union site.

The cemetery has a number of family connections for Yost, whose aunt, Ruth Varner, was laid to rest there in April.

More than 200 people were interred at Union Cemetery in 1969, when a reading of the gravestones was recorded. The precise number today wasn't immediately available.

Fairfield Township Trustee Larry Miskimins said it isn't unusual for people to be laid to rest at Union, but it's not a common occurrence either.

"Since I've been a trustee (20 years), we've probably buried six in there or so," he said.

The township maintains Union and two other cemeteries through its cemetery fund, which is supplemented by donations and bequests, Miskimins said.



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