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Grave matters: Belpre's Rockland Cemetery

February 25, 2012
By Ashley Rittenhouse ( , The Marietta Times

BELPRE - The Rockland Cemetery in Belpre spans a large area, stretching from Washington Boulevard across a set of railroad tracks to Leavitt Funeral Home off Victor Street.

It is one of five cemeteries owned by Belpre Township and maintained by township trustees, according to trustee Gary Merrow.

"This is the biggest one, without a doubt," he said.

Article Photos

Belpre Township trustees John Smith, Asa Boring and Gary Merrow, from left, look over markers in the Rockland Cemetery in Belpre Thursday. The cemetery has the second highest number of Civil War veterans of any cemetery in Washington County.

There are nearly 1,500 people buried there, according to Charlotte Powell, secretary and curator for the Belpre Historical Society, said it was established in 1822 when the Yellow Fever epidemic broke out.

She pointed out that some of those currently buried in the Rockland Cemetery were originally buried in the Cedarville Cemetery, which is located about half a mile away along the Ohio River.

"They had discovered by that time (in 1822) the ones in Cedarville had a chance to float away in high water - they did lose several graves in Cedarville," Powell said. "Later on, they moved some of the graves from Cedarville to the Rockland Cemetery."

Fact Box

Rockland Cemetery:

Located off Washington Boulevard in Belpre.

Owned by Belpre Township and maintained by township trustees.

Established in 1822.

There are about 162 Civil War veterans buried there, second to Oak Grove Cemetery in Marietta, where about 230 Civil War veterans are buried.

There are about 162 Civil War veterans buried in Rockland Cemetery, according to Dan Hinton, camp commander of the Gen. Benjamin D. Fearing Camp No. 2 of the Sons of Union Veterans.

"Oak Grove (Cemetery in Marietta) has more, but Rockland, as far as I know, has the second highest number," he said. "There are about 230 some at Oak Grove."

Among the Civil War soldiers buried there is Thomas Jefferson Wilcoxon, who was the last surviving Civil War veteran buried in Washington County. He was in the 191st Ohio Infantry, Company B, and he lived from September 1844 to July 1940.

"A lot of people that are still living around Belpre would still remember him," said Scott Britton, executive director of The Castle in Marietta.

Britton said William Henry Lewis, who was born a slave in Georgia in 1838, is also buried in Rockland Cemetery.

"He was in the 27th U.S. Colored Infantry - that was an Ohio raised unit," Britton explained. "He became vice-commander of the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) Post #434 in Barlow."

Hinton said sometime later this year, his group plans to offer tours through the cemetery so folks can hear the stories of many of those buried there. A date for the tours has not yet been established.

"It should be a real nice event for people," he said. "We'll be taking stories of some of the more easily accessible grave sites and we'll be doing it in Civil War uniform."



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