West Liberty, Ohio. Spring 2010.
We stumbled upon this church almost by accident. Driving home from the Ohio Caverns, the GPS said, "Turn right," but Mom went straight on.
"I think you were supposed to turn there."
"No," she said, pointing at the hill in front of us. "I want to go there."
'There' was a little church with a little iron fence, surrounded by (mostly) little headstones. We slowed to a crawl in front of an opening in the gate (bless those country roads - not another car in sight) and oo'ed at the American Gothicness of it all. The iron letters across the front gate say 'Mt. Tabor Church and Cemetery "Do you want to go in?" No need to ask twice.
It's old. The first stone we come to is so worn by time and the elements the name has all but disappeared. I can feel the slight depressions where the letters were carved, but they're so poorly defined you'd never find out who was buried there, even if you did a rubbing. I always feel bad for graves like that. I know that somewhere, probably in the church, there's a big book with a big list of all the names of everyone buried in the graveyard, that there will always be a record of the person buried underneath this weather-worn marker, but that doesn't seem to matter.
My dad used to drag us to cemeteries when I was a kid. It wasn't a regular occurrence, but he's always been a bit of a history buff and spent a lot of time on our family tree - if he'd find that someone's grandfather's uncle's second cousin was buried nearby, we'd all take a pilgrimage to the grave site so he could take a picture. Document the bloodline, as it were. No one's second cousin's nephew's grandson is going to take a picture of these naked stones, though.
And poor Lydia. There a plenty of broken stones in this cemetery. Most of them have been left with the tops leaning up against their bottoms, but both halves of Lydia's marker have been propped up against someone else's memorial. Was she buried nearby, or were her broken pieces moved because they were unsightly? Why not leave them lying in the grass over her grave, the way some of the smaller stones are? Why doesn't Lydia have a last name?
There are little stars next to some of the graves. In the newer part of the cemetery, there's one for World War II, another for Korea. But the older ones indicate the War of 1812, and one stone engraved with "Soldier of Revolution" has a little banner that says "1776." That explains the Historic Ohio plaque standing just inside the front gates.
As warm as it is, it's been threatening to rain all day, and the wind is so fierce it's hard to stand upright. We don't stay long, but how nice to have discovered this little hidden treasure.