Sitting high atop a hill overlooking Grandview Township and the Ohio River, Matamoras Cemetery is one of the area's largest burial grounds, with 2,843 known burials there.
"There's probably a few more but there were no records at all - except for some deed records that show who bought the lots," said Lee Hadley, longtime cemetery sexton and director of Hadley Funeral Home New Matamoras Chapel.
Hadley said in the 1800s and early 1900s, cemetery space was often sold in eight- or 16-plot segments.
BRAD BAUER The Marietta Times
Greg Danver, a member of the New Matamoras Perpetual Care Association, walks through Matamoras Cemetery on Monday. The cemetery, which sits high above the village, has 2,843 known burials, with some dating back to the early 1800s.
"That's how many families would buy them," he said. "Without records or (grave) markers, it makes it difficult to know for sure exactly how many people are buried there."
Hadley said the cemetery was once located near the Ohio River below what is now Front Street in New Matamoras.
"Before the locks and dams there was another road down there called Water Street," he said. "It's way out and in the river now. But it's my understanding that the cemetery used to be located down there and at some point they moved everything to where it is now."
To learn more
For information about perpetual care at Matamoras Cemetery:
Greg Danver, president: 865-2485.
at Matamoras Cemetery
Revolutionary War soldier James Riggs, who was born Sept. 15, 1742 and died Feb. 22, 1815.
U.S. Army Nurse Corps member Alice M. Young, who was born in 1877 and killed in action in 1918 while serving with U.S. forces during WWI.
Some of the oldest markers date back to the early 1800s, including at least one Revolutionary War soldier, James Riggs, who died in 1815.
"There are some interesting burials, including Revolutionary War soldiers and an Army nurse who was killed in action during World War I, which is rare," Hadley said.
The Army Corps nurse, Alice M. Young, was born in 1877 and died in 1918, Hadley said.
The cemetery is owned by Grandview Township and its care is shared between the township and New Matamoras Perpetual Care Association. Since the 1970s, individuals buying plots have been encouraged to buy "perpetual care," which ensures the grounds will be mowed and kept. The one-time fee averages $75, according to the perpetual care group.
"When I came here in 1969, everyone who had a space mowed their own space," Hadley said. "There were a few ladies in town who wanted their family spaces cared for and they sparked the perpetual care notion."
Greg Danver, president of the Matamoras Cemetery perpetual care group, said the group has approximately $200,000 that it continues to put in certificates of deposits.
"We do our best to operate off the interest to keep the cemetery in good shape," Danver said.
The township continues to care for the oldest parts of the cemetery and the perimeter and the perpetual care group cares for the newer plots, he said.
The group spends $11,000 to $12,000 each year on mowing, filling in areas with dirt and seeding. All graves in the newer sections of the cemetery are tended to, but Danver said it would help if more people contributed to the perpetual care fund.
"Interest rates are low right now and we're not making a lot off of our CDs," he said. "And I know the townships are taking cuts in their state funding and don't have a lot to dedicate to cemeteries."
New Matamoras resident Amy Mansfield, 41, said it is important to properly care for the area's cemeteries.
"My fiancee and I were recently looking into buying cemetery space and that was one of our concerns," she said. "What kind of guarantee do we have this space is going to be cared for?"
Grandview Township Trustee Danny Riggs said he did not immediately know how much the township spends each year on the upkeep of Matamoras Cemetery or the others in the township.
"I know it is pretty substantial," he said. "Anytime you have equipment moving it costs money."