The Columbus City Graveyards
Page Design 2015 by David K. Gustafson
Content 1985 by Donald M. Schlegel

Used with permission
(original on file)


This book was written out of a desire to prevent the feeling of frustration experienced by researchers when they learn that an old graveyard and its records no longer exist. I have experienced this with regard to early graveyards elsewhere, in Philadelphia and Houston, for example, and I hope that this effort will mitigate the feeling to some extent among those researching ancestors who lived in Columbus. My goal has been to replace such lacking official records and history for the graveyards owned by the City of Columbus, primarily the North and East Graveyards. The Franklinton Graveyard, which is now owned by the City, and the South Graveyard, which was owned by Franklin County but in which the City of Columbus had burial rights, are also included. The "Colored" graveyard in Franklin Township is also briefly discussed, since it was owned and used by residents of the city and it was established at least in part because of the treatment which black residents received from the city. The old Catholic and Jewish graveyards are excluded because they were privately owned and have been adequately discussed elsewhere. (See Raphael and Schlegel in the bibliography.)

In replacing a portion of the missing graveyard records, greatest thanks are due to the Green Lawn Cemetery Association, which through the years has kept one of the best sets of interment records known (a fact acknowledged by researchers as far away as New Jersey). The Association kindly allowed me to search through several of its books for notes of removals from the city graveyards. The Association is also to be commended for their care of the old tombstones and monuments which were moved into Green Lawn from the City graveyards over a century ago.

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Various other sources of newspaper notices and miscellaneous records and historical data, as noted in the Bibliography and Sources, were supplied by the Ohio Historical Society, the Franklin County Genealogical Society, the Public Library of Columbus and Franklin County, the County Recorder's Office, County Engineer's Office, the Franklin County Clerk of Courts, the City of Columbus Engineering and Construction Office, and former Clerk of Council Vince Tumeo.

It was possible to identify some 2,210 interments in the North, East, Franklinton, and Colored graveyards, broken down approximately as follows: 440 known and 550 probable at the North Graveyard; 110 known and 335 probable at the East Graveyard; 135 known and 40 probable at Franklinton; 25 probable at the Colored graveyard; 575 probably interred at the North or East graveyards, but which one cannot be determined. In addition, names of 59 lot owners at the North and 12 at the East Graveyard were found. Even after many hours and much effort, this total is a small fraction, perhaps one-quarter to one-third, of all of the interments in the City graveyards. It is unfortunate that none of the sexton's records (or even John Graham's report of lot owners at the North Graveyard) could be found for use in this compilation. None would be happier than the author if the publication of this work would cause the private holder of some of these missing records to come forward and share them with researchers, even though too late to be included here.

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On the evening of Friday, December 2, 1881, while the last removals were being completed in the Kerr tract of the old North Graveyard, a boy watching the workmen was observed to pick up something from the dirt and quickly put it in his pocket. Subsequently, he cautiously pulled his hand partly out of his pocket and a gentleman saw a heavy gold ring in his hand. One of the workmen, suspecting that the boy had found something of value, spoke to him, but the lad pretended not to hear and a minute or two later ran off as fast as his legs could carry him.

Those who delve into the past are, like the boy, searching for a treasure, an experience or lesson to make their own life easier or more meaningful, but without the suffering which may have accompanied the original experience. May each find his or her own "gold ring."

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