Well we made it to Ohio and back again without mishap or incident. It was something of a whirlwind tour and I sort of feel like I have returned from one of those tours “if it’s Tuesday it must be Belgium”. Why? Put simply: we were in Ohio from Sunday afternoon to Thursday afternoon and visited 10 cemeteries. Only 9 if a repeat visit to one is only counted as one cemetery. My sister is a saint! And we didn’t do anything on Thursday but get ourselves to the airport, return the rental car, and travel.
So here are some of the highlights of where we went and what we saw there. The first day, Sunday, we found the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati. It is a huge beautiful cemetery that is also an arboretum and is a National Historic Landmark. Spring Grove is where my immediate Coffin relatives are buried along with one of the Justice lines and those who married into the family. We were lucky enough to run into a once-a-month tram tour as we reached the visitor center, so we jumped on and were treated to a tour of part of the cemetery with a docent providing some history and talking about various kinds of headstones or memorials and the symbols used. It was a perfect introduction and I learned a little too. One of the sites we passed was the stone for Salmon P. Chase, which I had wanted to see because I have started reading Goodwin’s book on Lincoln, A Team of Rivals. After the tour we went wandering on our own and managed to find most of the family, including gg-grandfather Z. B. Coffin and his wife, my g-grandmother Katie Salt, and ggggrandparents Jesse and Susan Justice. We also found Levi Coffin’s headstone – he was an abolitionist and deeply involved in the Underground Railroad.
Monday was the biggest cemetery day. We were in two before lunch and 3 (or 4 if the old and new Calvary cemeteries count as separate) after lunch. We also had a great time sitting talking and looking at pictures with a cousin. I now have a really good reason for needing a Flip-Pal scanner. I would have loved to scan a number of the photos she had. After the photos we all went cemetery walking. This is when we found the memorial for
Tuesday we were up and at it again. We stopped first at the Visitor Center in Batavia (the county seat) and got some good information as well as directions to the Batavia Cemetery. We couldn’t resist going to see it, even though I don’t know of any relatives there. The weather was beautiful and it was a good day for walking a cemetery. We moved on to the Old Settler’s Cemetery in Bethel and found relatives as well as some good symbols and poems on the stones. My sister’s camera battery gave out and she was busy copying information while I took as many pictures as I could. After lunch we went back to the Tate Township Cemetery (where we’d been on Monday) to look for some of the other relatives and spent several hours in the sun (which was not a great idea – I sunburned my arms having not thought to put on sunscreen). With lots of walking and Margaret contributing her amazing ability to spot names, we found many of the people on my list. We finished the day with a stop at the County Library branch in Bethel, enjoying the cooler air, and browsing their local history/genealogy section.
Our last full day there we went back to Batavia and the Visitor Center, and stopped at one of the houses on the Freedom Trail (Underground Railroad and abolitionist sites). We spent most of the morning in the County Library branch in Batavia (the Doris Wood branch) where the Clermont County Genealogical Society keeps their collection of materials. Learned some more history of the area and read about several of our families, sticking to materials that are not available anywhere else. I found a manuscript about one of my Justice lines, that I didn’t know existed. I also found a copy of a diary that I did know about but I think is a different version (at least seems to include material I don’t remember).
The jackpot on Wednesday was visiting with Boothby cousins and being taken to see the old Salt homestead, the house my father was born in. We had seen the house forty or more years ago when it was not being lived in, and knew it had been renovated since then and recently for sale. Our cousin pulled into the driveway so we could see better, and there were people home so we got out. It turns out that a young couple recently bought the house and 40 acres and are happily settling in to do some organic farming along with their full time jobs. The woman was home and showed us around the whole inside, asking questions based on what she had been told about the house. They are interested in old houses and want to know this one’s history. We tried to answer her questions when we could and I hope she is going to send me a computer file of some of the materials she was given about the house. It’s nice to think of a young couple and their daughter enjoying the place, and appreciating the house’s history.