Old cemeteries rich in history

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By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Linda Dillman
Peggy Mefferd, a relative of Revolutionary War patriot John Decker and a member of the Worthington Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, pauses at Decker’s gravesite in Lockbourne. The chapter sponsored the placement of a memorial plaque at the foot of Decker’s tombstone.

The history of Lockbourne is written both on the land and in its cemeteries.
Pioneer graves dating to 1811 and graves of those who aided or served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, and Civil War can be found on these hallowed grounds.

North of Lockbourne, along the east side of Lockbourne Road, is the Landes Cemetery, a small patch of land in the middle of a farm field with approximately 30 graves and long thought to be a “plague” cemetery where the burials were a result of a devastating disease.

The earliest recorded grave in this cemetery is for Jacob Landes, who passed away at age 12 on May 12, 1811.

“Jacob Landes’ family lived in Lockbourne and Landis Street is named after the family,” said Lockbourne Mayor Christie Ward.

The last interment in Landes Cemetery is John Plum’s, who was 10 when he passed away in February 1859. With more than four decades between the first and last burials and no identifiable clusters of deaths within a specific year, the idea that a majority of the burials was due to a plague comes into question.

What is not disputable is the grave of John Decker in the Decker Cemetery, a family plot in a field near the Lockbourne Post Office. Decker passed away in 1828 and his burial site is commemorated with a plaque noting Decker’s history as a Revolutionary War Patriot.

Pvt. John Reid—a veteran of the War of 1812 and John Decker’s brother-in-law—was born in 1792, passed away in 1838 and is also buried in the Decker Cemetery, along with fellow War of 1812 veteran Pvt. Luke Decker, the son of John Decker.

Civil War veterans Jacob Mourer and Pvt. John Parkinson are buried in other village cemeteries—which include the Old Lockbourne Cemetery and the Ray Watkins Cemetery—along with World War I veteran Oscar Ruechel, who served in the U.S. Army in 1918.

“These veterans are part of Lockbourne’s history and are to be remembered for their service in preserving our freedoms. We are thankful for their commitment to this country,” said Lockbourne Village Administrator Jane McJunkin.

The interment generating the most public interest of its day was for Israel Jordan, who passed away at age 80 in 1903 following a four-day search, according to uncredited newspaper articles of the time.

Jordan walked away from his home in Pharisburg, Ohio (Near Marysville) without notice on Feb. 4, bought a train ticket to Cincinnati and, after a relative notified police of his great uncle’s disappearance, was discovered two days later in a Kentucky stable.

Jordan, in poor health and suffering from exposure, was taken to an infirmary in Cincinnati.

A doctor in his hometown offered to provide a place for him to stay if he could be transported back to Pharisburg, but before a distant relative could pick him up, he passed away in Cincinnati on Feb. 7.

He was later buried in the Decker Cemetery.

According to Ward, Lockbourne is responsible for the upkeep of cemeteries within village limits.

“In 2013, Operation Flag led by Joe Testa with ROTC students from Grove City High School, Franklin Heights High School and Westland High School restored the tombstones in the Old Lockbourne Cemetery,” said Ward. “A rededication ceremony was held on May 27, 2013.”

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