BELPRE-There are about 60 grave markers in Belpre Township's historic Cedarville Cemetery today but just how many pioneers, Revolutionary War soldiers and Native Americans were buried in the old graveyard is anybody's guess.
Located along a stretch of Ohio River bank in Belpre, portions of the cemetery have been washed away by years of flooding and erosion that carried some graves with it.
"The area was originally established as 'common ground'-seven acres that were set aside when this land was first surveyed where people traveling the Ohio could get off the river and rest," explained Asa Boring, one of the Belpre Township trustees now responsible for the cemetery.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Asa Boring, Belpre Township trustee, resets an American flag beside one of the 60 historic grave markers located in the Cedarville Cemetery.
"Anyone traveling downriver could stay on that property without being run off," he said. "Of course, some of them died and were buried there. But we don't have statistics on all of the graves and we know some of them have been washed away."
Boring said in the past the graveyard was also referred to as the "Indian Cemetery," most likely because some Native Americans were buried there.
A 1897 article from The Marietta Register, posted on an information board at the cemetery, refers to an "Indian massacre" that reportedly occurred in the late 1700s near the graveyard site.
About the site
What: Belpre Township's historic Cedarville Cemetery, established in 1791.
Where: Along Cemetery Drive in Belpre.
Directions: From Washington Boulevard (Ohio 618), turn south for three blocks on either Cross Street or West Street
The article suggests victims from the massacre could have been buried at Cedarville.
"If there was a massacre, then some of the Indians were probably buried there, too," Boring said.
The Belpre Historical Society's museum at 509 Ridge St. contains some readings and records about Cedarville and those buried in the cemetery.
"The cemetery was opened in 1791 and we keep a list of those who are known to have been buried there," said Charlotte Powell, museum curator.
She noted one early pioneer likely buried in the Cedarville graveyard was Revolutionary War Capt. Zebulon King, recorded as the first white man killed by Native Americans in the Belpre area.
Other Revolutionary War vets in the cemetery include Col. Israel Putnam, Jr., son of Gen. Israel Putnam and Capt. Jonathan Stone, who served under Gen. Rufus Putnam, one of the founders of Marietta.
"The museum has also preserved many of the original grave markers that were in Cedarville Cemetery," Powell said.
Among the sandstone markers, displayed and labeled neatly in a back hallway at the museum, is that of Nathaniel Sawyer, Sr., who founded the village of Little Hocking, originally known as Sawyer Station, according to Powell, who is a lifelong resident of Little Hocking.
Although some older gravestones still exist at the cemetery, most were replaced with new markers by the Rotary Club of Belpre, working with the township trustees to restore the property and re-mark the known graves.
"It was a community project," Boring said. "Now the cemetery is surrounded by a new chain-link fence and the trustees are keeping it maintained as an historical site."
Boring noted that over the years some graves that were initially located in the Cedarville Cemetery were moved out of harm's way to higher ground in the Rockland Cemetery, about a half-mile northwest of the Cedarville site.
"No burials take place at the Cedarville Cemetery today," Boring said. "Most of the people who visit the cemetery are looking for ancestors that may be buried there."