Garrettsville – Have you ever been to the historic Old Baptist Cemetery on Maple Avenue in Garrettsville? If you have, you may not recognize it today.
The small Baptist Cemetery has been undergoing a restoration this summer and has had about 19 stones repaired, straightened, cleaned, and placed upright again. Ten obelisks have been straightened as well. This work was done by Tim Foor.
Do you know who the first settlers in Garrettsville were? John Garrett and his wife Eleanor were the original settlers in 1804. The Garretts arrived in two covered wagons with their five children. Their young son, Josiah, died one year later and was the first person buried in the cemetery. Several members of the Garrett family and their relatives are also buried in this cemetery.
Arriving with them was Abraham Dyson, his wife, two sons and a daughter. Dyson was a blacksmith and developed a good patronage of local Indians from Hiram Rapids.
Garrett and Dyson, and probably their sons, soon got busy and built log cabins for housing their families. They were able in their first year, in what was to become Garrettsville, to clear the heavily wooded banks of Silver Creek and build a dam, as well as a sawmill and grist mill.
The cemetery is also the burial site of the first mayor of Garrettsville, Isaac Stowell, and his wife, Betsy Hewins Stowell. In addition, the first medical doctor, Dr. Lyman W. Trask, is buried on the hill with a modest stone. Dr. Trask is also credited with building Garrettsville’s first hotel in 1824.
Walking through the quaint cemetery is like a history lesson! You’ll notice names on the gravestones that are familiar to you, because they are the names of streets or roads in the Garrettsville vicinity…. Wheeler, Atwood, Hewins and Stanley, to name a few.
The first dry goods store was a log structure, started in 1820, and owned by David J. Garrett and his brother-in-law John D. Hazen, who is buried in the cemetery.
The grandparents of President James A. Garfield’s wife, Lucretia Garfield, are buried in the cemetery, as is her uncle and his two wives and several cousins.
Today, the primitive mill built by the earliest settlers is still standing on the corner of Main and Center Streets and is once again called Garrett’s Mill (and Brewing)!
In addition to the very earliest settlers, there are two Revolutionary War soldiers buried there, one being John Garrett. There is one soldier from the War of 1812 and four soldiers from the Civil War.
There was once a Baptist church in the cemetery at the top of the hill, the land having been provided for by John Garrett, along with the cemetery. The church was destroyed by an explosion in 1881 but replaced shortly by another Baptist Church at the foot of the hill, nearer Maple Avenue where the War Memorials now stand. That church was used until 1916 and was later torn down in 1939.
The cemetery was no longer used after 1886, as the health department declared it “inadvisable to permit further burials.”
The Dunn mausoleum has had a great deal of work done on it. The large sandstones of the outer walls were removed and re-erected, leveled and plumbed. The flagstones resting on the exterior walls of the porch were squared and the interior filled with gravel before the flagstone was re-installed. The sagging corner on the Southwest was resupported and made as plumb as possible. All missing mortar between the stones on the walls was repointed.
There are still several of the large flagstones on the porch that are badly broken and in need of replacement. The work that has been done is by John Burnell, of Kent.
The other, smaller mausoleum, called the M. Morris & C. North vault, has the year 1862 on the front of it. It has a wrought iron fence on the porch. A tree that was growing up between the fence and wall, has been removed and the porch has been reinstalled in front of the mausoleum. The gated door is being worked on by a local resident and volunteer.
All the work has been paid for by funds from the Garrettsville Baptist Cemetery Association. Now we need the help of our community! The funds earmarked for the restoration are running low and there is much more work to be done.
The Cemetery Association has partnered with the Garfield Historical Society to use their 501c for tax exempt donations. Those checks may be made out to James A. Garfield Historical Society and earmarked for the Baptist Cemetery. Mail to PO Box 144 Garrettsville, OH 44231. All other checks can be made out to the Garrettsville Cemetery Association and mailed to 11446 Rolling Meadows Dr. Garrettsville, OH 44231. Questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org