Gene Notes

Some random and some not-so-random thoughts on family history.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sympathy Saturday - St. Paul's Cemetery, New Bremen, Auglaize County, Ohio

The following is a summary of an article that appeared in The Towpath, the quarterly publication of the New Bremen Historical Association. I've known about the fate of this cemetery thanks to my cousin Evelene Bell Meyer.  This article is dedicated to the 122 people who were buried there in a mass grave during the 1849 Cholera epidemic.

History of Cemeteries in New Bremen - St. Paul's Timeline.

The plat of Bremen (New Bremen) was officially recorded June 11, 1833. Public space reserved for church school and burial ground. The burial ground was part of St. Paul Church (Lutheran) but was referred to often as the Village Cemetery.

First burial was Phillip Jacob Maurer who died just one month after he and his family settled there.

1849 Cholera Epidemic. Because of sanitation and welfare concerns the Village council began exploring the need for a cemetery out side the town. Before any action could be taken the Cholera Epidemic (possibly fueled by the canal and unsanitary conditions) hit. A reported 150 of the 700 population died. In a three week period between July 27 and August 18, 1849, church records show that St. Paul lost 122 members and a mass grave was dug for the burial of these victims in St. Paul Cemetery. Even though two other churches existed, most burials took place in St. Paul. An estimated 2500 to 3000 people are thought to have been buried there.

by 1843, the church council purchased land on State route 274 west of New Bremen. First known as Memorial Park Cemetery, later called Plank Road Cemetery open to burials until 1938.

St. Peter's church, formed in 1845, also had a burial ground opposite their church. An estimated 500 people may have been buried there, but there are no records to confirm this.

These two cemeteries (St. Paul & St. Peter) were closed in 1865. Out of town burial was established by a village ordinance. In 1865 German Protestant Cemetery's constitution (written in German) was titled Constitution of the German Universal Protestant God's Acre.

1866 - Willow Grove Cemetery (aka Lock Three Cemetery) was opened. Willow Grove remains open.

1903 - The board of trustees decided to erect a new fence around the old grave yard between Herman Street & the L.E. & W. railroad ...

1916 (From the New Bremen Sun, August 25, 1916): As the old St. Paul's cemetery, on North Herman Street is to be plowed and leveled off within a short time now, those who have relatives or friends buried there and wish the remains to be transferred to some other burying place, are requested to make their wishes known without delay to the St. Paul Trustees.

1983 St. Paul's Church Sesquicentennial Book, p 19:  Plans for a ball field and playground area west of the church on Herman Street were outlined in September, 1948. This involved a great deal of work and money, as this was the site of the original church cemetery. Because there was a real need in the community for a ball field and park area and since the church cemetery could no longer beused for burial because of a village ordinance in the 1860's prohibiting burials within the corporation, it was felt this would be an excellent use of this church-owned property. A notice was released for families having loved ones buried there to have the right to relcoate those graves. A few were relocated; hence several stones in German Protestant cemetery having dates of death prior to its establishment in December 1865. However, the majority of the remaining headstones were buried on top of each respective grave and leveling of the area took place over a period of several years.

In October 2011, a geophysical survey of the historical Church graveyard, was completed. They scanned the subsurface with ground penetrating radar to determine if buried remains still exist at this site. The report of this survey is on file in the church office and may be viewed during office hours.

I was disappointed to see that the articles did not reveal whether any graves remained. I'm sure they saw the shadows of the headstones they buried.

[Summary of the article in The Towpath, April 2012, the quarterly of the New Bremen Historical Association, reprinted with permission.]

Copyright 2010-2012, ACK for Gene Notes

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