1 Old Facts In a New Light


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My fourth-great grandparents, Godfrey Augustus Speck and Sarah Townsend were buried, according to our family history, in a Freeport, Ohio Quaker cemetery, Sarah’s interment in 1815 and Godfrey’s interment in 1828.1 Other family researchers state they were buried in the southeast corner of Greenmont Union Cemetery marked Section Two, Old Quaker Cemetery. Greenmont Union Cemetery, well documented, has no record for either of them.     The cemetery where the grandparents were buried was, in fact, in Freeport Township, but was not in, or a part of, the Greenmont Union Cemetery. 

The cemetery in question was the first Quaker burial place in Freeport Township in Ohio. Also on the same piece of  land was the first Quaker Meeting House and school. As you will see later, the first burial at the site soon to be a Quaker cemetery was Rebecca Whealdon, infant daughter of  a Quaker couple, Isaac and Elizabeth (Manlove) Whealdon who had just arrived in Ohio from Delaware. The infant’s untimely death occurred in 1804. Through the years, both before and after the Friends Society owned the site of the cemetery, meeting house and school, others who were not Quaker made use of the cemetery.

    This cemetery site, through the years, as we have found out, went by various names, depending on who the property owner was at any particular time, or what important person was buried there, or who happened to live on the property, even though not an owner. For many years since 1869, the most popular name has been the Boone-Sears Cemetery, and we shall use that designation.

     Researching and working through the several facets of this story, it became evident that the basis for the stories was the early Ohio settlement of the Quakers, or the Friends Society, because between the two cemeteries and the meeting houses, their family histories were inter-related, not only within the Quaker community, but with the lives and families of the township.

     I found that each of these cemeteries were accessed from two different directions out of the village of Freeport, Ohio, but that when seen in an aerial photo or map, they are nearly side-by side, approximately a half-mile distant from each other. The origins of the two cemeteries, though related, were distinctly different, in that, the first one, with its meeting house and school, was started on land where a Quaker family had settled, their first child buried there in 1804.

     The second cemetery was established by the same group of people when a local-township-county-state-national event occurred between 1817 and 1820.  Local and county maps, records, photos and histories have provided us with burial lists, land deed records, and an old diary, all of which help to round out a description of this community. In addition to this we have been introduced to other researchers who have offered some of their research and some interesting side lights that have brought this village alive for us.

Two Stories Instead of One

When I had made my decision to write a short history of the Boone-Sears Cemetery, I did not know any of this information. When the revelation occurred, I found I could not write  just one story, but must write two stories together. Now that I have collected source materials to make the story, it is plain to see that we still have not found all the records to give a complete history, but what we found brings together a portion of the township’s history that should be published.
     Though I have found many bits and pieces of information in unusual places, the main publications included "The Federal Land Series;"2    old Harrison County maps; the cemetery listings in such publications as "Ohio Cemeteries;"3  Freeport township historian Alice Hayhurst Morton’s interviews and notes and her publication, "Freeport Township Cemeteries, Harrison County, Ohio;"4  the assignment of the revised 1799 rectangle survey used in Ohio; excellent USGS on-line topographical and satellite maps5, 66  of the area (We will direct you to Web 2); actual county records; Quaker records; and some other documentation I have compiled from many sources. 

Land References For the Two Cemeteries

This story of the cemeteries is important, because by the year 1996, all remnants of the Boone-Sears Cemetery were finally plowed over.  From now on the only ‘proof’ that the Boone-Sears Cemetery existed will be what people tell us or what we have seen written.  An amusing ‘proof’ I have had explained to me is that the first Quaker cemetery that was located on the Sears farm was located just above the D (of David Sears’ name) on the old 1875 plat map where the land owners’ names were inked in.

     The land references which locate the two cemeteries are written here as listed in previously published library and genealogical society documents. To simplify the understanding of  the placement of each of the two cemeteries, we would say, to reach the Sears farm, one would drive out onto County Highway 10 on the east side of the village of Freeport, then branch onto T-306 (Cummins Road).  To reach the other Quaker cemetery within Greenmont Union Cemetery, one would drive out of the village at the northeast corner of Freeport onto Ohio State Road 800 and pass an immediate right fork which is the exit from the Greenmont Union Cemetery, but enter at the next right which is its entrance, and proceed south if you want to reach Greenmont’s old (second) Quaker cemetery. Even though the approaches of the two Quaker cemeteries result in a 90 degree angle, you will see on our finished map the two cemeteries6  are in very close proximity.

What Uncle Isaac Had To Stay

The original cemetery, now still referred to as the Boone-Sears Cemetery  was the township’s first Quaker cemetery, upon land that also had the first Quaker meeting house (log) in Freeport, as well as a log school house.7  We know for a fact our grandparents were buried there because of an entry in the 1901 family history that follows the entries of their deaths and interments. Uncle Isaac,8  grandson of Godfrey and Sarah, writes:[page 3]

“In October 1896 the writer in company with Mr. Brady Evans visited the Freeport Cemetery. It is on the farm now owned by David Sears one and one-half miles above Freeport, Ohio. And by  the kindness of Miss Amanda Sears who took us to the top of a high hill where the cemetery is.

 “She pointed out the graves where Grandfather and Grandmother rest. Their graves are marked with rounded stones one at the head and foot of each grave, with the first letters of their names thereon. There are between fifty and seventy-five graves there. The cemetery is located on top of a hill in an open field unenclosed by any fence, although a man was paid to fence it. His name could be given, but for modesty’s sake will be withheld from the public. It is unknown when the first person was buried there.

 “There are no tombstones to mark the resting places of the dead, except those mentioned. I was informed that a woman by the name of Rachel Brown lies south from Grandmother’s side. There had been a wild plum bush planted at the head of Mrs. Brown’s grave which had grown to [page 4]  be quite a tree. The lightning struck it a few years ago and killed it, tearing up the ground and leaving quite a hole; since that, there has sprouted up a multitude of small bushes.

  “Then in July, 1899, in company with Messrs. Phileetus Steel, Albert and James Sears, I made my second visit to the old cemetery. From them I gathered much information. There used to stand in early days near the cemetery a church built of round logs; a fireplace in the middle so arrainged [sic] that the women sit in one end and the men in the other end facing the fireplace, a very good idea for the present day. It was removed in 1826. Isaac Wheeler [sic, correct name is Whealdon]  owned the farm when Grandfather was buried [1828].”

Description of Boone-Sears Site

NE Qtr., S12,T11,R7, Freeport Twp., 1830.9  On south side of Cummins Rd. (T306) two-tenths mile from Birmingham Rd. (CR10). Cemetery located in back of house and farm buildings, on or near site of first Quaker church. No stones.
 Author’s note: when the cemetery publications are updated, it would be good to make a note that the cemetery is on the north side of Cummins Road, not south; that it is on private property; that its area has been plowed over; and there are no remnant signs that there ever was a cemetery there. I have drawn a map [210 B] which correctly identifies where the cemetery is in relation to Cummins Road with details that provide a full description. 
Here are two diagrams by visitors to the cemetery in the past who cared enough that we should know. The road that leads to the Cummins residence and the high hill cemetery is also called T306 (a township road).

Description of Old Quaker Cemetery at Greenmont Union Site  

These next two descriptions are completely separate from the Sears farm, with this second Quaker cemetery sharing space within the Greenmont Union Cemetery grounds which is very close to the David Sears property. The Quaker cemetery, now within Greenmont Union Cemetery, is known as the site of the second Quaker meeting house in Freeport Township. Both descriptions are for the same cemetery, just labeled differently. The first description designates the second Quaker cemetery before Greenmont Union Cemetery came into existence.  

QUAKER: SW Qtr.,S7,T12,R7, Freeport Twp., 1818, now a part of Greenmont Union Cemetery. On Ohio 800 at the northeast edge of Freeport.

 GREENMONT: SW Qtr., S7,T12,R7, Freeport Twp., 1818,10  includes Quaker Cemetery. On Ohio 800 at the northeast edge of Freeport.

     Another way to describe Greenmont Union Cemetery was by Charles Hanna in his “Historical Collections of Harrison County, Ohio.11”  It reads like this:

 “Established about 1818. 10.06 acres, Vol. 90, page 453; Vol. 69, page 636, Vol. 62, page 392.  On SR (state road) 800 at NE edge of Freeport. SW Qtr S7 T12 R7 and NW Qtr S12 T11 R7. Established about 1818 as a Quaker Cemetery. Remnants of Quaker Cemetery are back of modern cemetery.”

    This quote was taken from an old, typewritten document which had no title or date, which was a copy secured from the county recorder’s office at Cadiz, Ohio.  It was partially published in “Historical Collections of Harrison County, Ohio”11 by Hanna, and appeared to have been a document preceding the updated “Ohio Cemeteries” editions.

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