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Recognizing an old veteran

Gravestone for Dunham Twp. namesake missing

August 11, 2012
By Jasmine Rogers - The Marietta Times (jrogers@mariettatimes.com) , The Marietta Times

DUNHAM TWP. - Strolling through Hollister Cemetery, there's no way to know that the small, hillside lot is the final resting place of Dunham Township's namesake and Revolutionary War soldier Jonathan Dunham. His gravestone has long been missing.

However, Jean Yost, president of the Marietta chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, plans to do something about that.

"We've started the paperwork to get him a headstone," said Yost this week, standing over the site where Dunham is believed to be buried.

Article Photos

JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Dunham Township Trustee Ben Elder, left, and former VFW Post Commander Bob Hooper stand near the approximated burial site of Revolutionary War soldier Jonathan Dunham in Hollister Cemetery.

Headstones for veterans are available free of cost through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The program is frequently used to reestablish the site of military graves that have long since lost their marker.

Often those who request a headstone through the program are relatives of the deceased. However, this is not always the case.

Bob Hooper, a former VFW Post Commander who placed flags on area veteran's graves for nearly a decade, identified Dunham's missing headstone years ago while trying to adorn the burial site with a flag.

Fact Box

Hollister

Cemetery

Alternate name: Dunham Cemetery.

Location: Dunham Township, three miles east of Ohio 339 on County Road 3.

Established: Circa 1817.

Most recent burial: 2010.

Source: Times Research.

"I started working with Jean trying to see if we could find the military records for him to where we could get the paperwork filled out," said Hooper.

Finding the precise site for a marker can prove to be a challenge. In Dunham's case, Dunham Township has no burial records for the cemetery.

"The records were lost before I was a trustee, so that was probably 20 years ago," said Township Trustee Ben Elder.

According to Elder, that is why people are very rarely buried there anymore.

Even with no marker and no township burial records, Yost said he is not discouraged. Washington County cemetery maps created as part of the Works Project Administration in the mid-1930s roughly identify the final resting places of American soldiers.

The map for Hollister Cemetery also notes the location of two Civil War soldiers in or around Hollister Cemetery. Nolan Sylvester was buried behind the actual cemetery, a site now overgrown with trees and shrubs.

In contrast to the non-existent markers for Dunham and Sylvester, the monument for Civil War soldier Albert A. Hollister showcases one of the best kept engravings in the cemetery. Above his name, a masonic symbol is still clearly visible.

While not probable, finding Dunham's original headstone is still possible. As late as 1993, a headstone for Jonathan Dunham did exist. It is referred to in a list of tombstone readings taken by Catherine Sams and compiled in her book "Dunham Township Cemeteries: Washington County, Ohio."

The grave referred to Dunham as a native of Sharon, Conn. and said he died Aug. 8, 1823 at age 70.

Hoping to find at least some fragments of the headstone, Yost will use a polished metal rod to probe the ground.

Though the tombstone would likely be completely illegible after 189 years, it would still give Yost and Hooper a more accurate way to determine where to place a new marker.

For now, Hooper has adorned Dunham's approximated burial place with an American flag, where it waves, waiting the impending arrival of Dunham's new headstone.

 
 
 

 

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