As we have worked in the cemetery we have been able to discover more about our early Greenfield residents - some very interesting stories and stories yet to be discovered. It is an adventure! Here are just a few interesting “finds”. Maybe you can help us discover more about some of these burials.
This beautiful gravestone was found in two pieces. The top section (lighter color) was found barely under the surface of the ground. The lower portion was in its slot base but really leaning. We corrected the lean and reattached the two top pieces, and became intrigued with the ornate carving at the top. At first we thought it was a mother (center) and her two children, making us think that maybe those were the three buried there. After some research, the burial was for three children: Catharine Burkarth - died 1/3/1864 at age 5 years, 1 month, 7 days (27 November 1858 - 3 January 1864); Ferdinand Burkarth - born on 26 November 1860 as the son of F. Burkarth and Mrs. M. Burkarth - died 4 January 1864 at age of 3, born in Highland, Ohio (26 November 1860 - 4 January 1864); Joseph A. Burkarth - born on 24 August 1863 as the son of F. Burkarth and Mrs. M. Burkarth - died on 3 January 1864 at the age of 0 - born in Highland, Ohio (24 August 1863 - 3 January 1864). As you can see, these children died within 2 days of each other. We have learned that sometime after the death of the children they moved to Johnson County, Missouri where the Hyers and several other local families had moved. We believe the father, also named Ferdinand, is buried in the Sunset Hill Cemetery in Warrensburg, MO. We hope someday to unravel more of this story.
Sometimes it is the monument itself that is so interesting. From its red color to the ornate carving. It has a bowl on top which shows no signs of cracks or damage. About all we know is that Dellie was 37 years, 3 months, and 20 days old. Maybe you can help us learn more about Dellie and her family.
Box tombs are a simple form of a rectangular grave monument in which a "box" is constructed, above the grave, of solid slabs or stacked stones laid in brickwork fashion. The structure is capped with a horizontal “ledger" stone. The actual body is buried in the ground. We have identified 57 box tombs in the Old Burying Ground. Most of which are in need of repair. Due to the size of the majority of these box tombs, we have only addressed the needs of a few of the smaller ones. We will have to study what is going to be required to do the repairs and see how we can get it accomplished. The ledger stone (top) can be 3’ x 6’ in many cases and 4-5” thick - quite heavy. One is just over 4’ x 6’! We’re gonna need more help!
Here is a worksheet of information collected so far.
John Fernow (his name in German was Johannes Fernau) came from a French Huguenot family which fled from France during the Protestant Reformation. John was born near Amsterdam, Holland, in 1760. Later, when his family was living in the Province of Hesse, Germany, John was conscripted into the German army which was delivered to England to fight in the Revolutionary War. He served as a Drum Major with the Hessian Mercenaries under Cornwallis, surrendered to Washington at Yorktown on October 17, 1781. Upon his parole as a prisoner of war he hired himself out for a two-year apprenticeship to a glove maker in Fredericksburg, Virginia. After his apprenticeship had been served, he moved to Bath, Berkeley Co, Virginia (now Berkeley Springs, Morgan Co, West Virginia) and settled on a farm near Rock Gap on Sleepy Creek, about 10 miles south of Berkeley Springs. He supposedly rode into town in the evenings and played with or conducted an orchestra at the hotel. About 1805 or 1806 he purchased a farm in Ohio and in 1808 sent his oldest son, John H, to develop the property. In 1814 he moved the rest of his family to Ohio, except for Daniel who chose to remain behind on the original homestead. He settled first in Highland Co, Ohio, and later moved to Ross Co, Ohio, where he died at the age of 65 and was buried in Greenfield, Highland Co, Ohio.
Rachel Stafford is reported to be the first African American to live in Greenfield. Information is not easy to find about Rachel, but it is believed she was born circa 1782 in Maryland and died in 1858. Rachel was an emancipated slave; the owner was Samuel Gibson, KY. Gibson freed Rachel in 1807 when she became 25 years of age. Rachel later became a housekeeper in the Dr. Samuel Crothers home and appears in the 1850 Census records as a member of the Crothers household.
We were a long time in finding Rachel’s gravestone. Finally someone unearthed a piece of the stone with her name and it was cleaned and re-installed on its base.
We don’t know much about William Willis. His gravestone does have an interesting engraving:
“a refugee from the South, d. Sept. 2, 1886, a. 16 yrs 4 mos. Erected by M.E. Sabbath School of Greenfield, O.”
In 2021 a couple from Missouri visited the cemetery and they were actually searching for William Willis. We showed them the grave and hope they will be able to add more to this story and let us know what they find.
In 2007 – 2009 volunteers wanted to repair the stone wall at the front of the cemetery bordering McArthur Way. It was a massive effort and resulted n a much nicer look to the cemetery’s front perimeter. During the process, workers encountered various broken monument pieces and in an effort to see that they were not lost or further destroyed, they installed many of the monuments within the wall. However . . . now that we have been preserving he cemetery, we have found where many of those pieces should have been relocated. Here’s a worksheet showing the monuments in the wall.