ALTERNATE NAMES: Infirmary Cemetery, Potter’s Field, County Farm Cemetery
LOCATION: west side of Deerview Lane (TR-160); north of Wedgewood Rd. (SR-162); on the north side of the railroad tracks by some large pine trees.
CURRENT OWNER: Medina County Park District
SIZE: size of parcel is 3.6651 acres – actual cemetery size is unknown
ROWS: run north to south starting on the east side by the road
ESTIMATED NUMBER OF BURIALS: 105+
EARLIEST KNOWN BURIAL: probably 1860 – unknown individual
MOST RECENT KNOWN BURIAL: September 18, 1950 – Julian Chudzinski
GPS: N 41° 06’ 15.5”; W 81° 54’ 40.7”
PERMANENT PARCEL #: 020-10B-24-004
(Medina County Engineer’s Overhead View)
ORIGINAL LOT #: Tract 2, lot 2
TOWNSHIP, RANGE: T2N: R15W
THE MEDINA COUNTY HOME
The Medina County Home, known then as the Medina County Infirmary, was established in February of 1855. The first of the residents, who were referred to in those days as `inmates’, was Charles Olcott of Medina Village who was admitted on February 5, 1855 at the age of sixty-one years. He was by all accounts an educated man – being a member of the bar and a former Prosecuting Attorney for the county. The inventor of the iron steam ship, he was eventually beset by misfortune and, like so many others after him, ended up at the County Home. They were admitted as paupers – with no funds and no place to go. Some were admitted as `insane’ or `idiotic’ – taken in shouldering the burden and stigma of mental illness in a much less enlightened time. Still a good many others were simply older people who had been taken to the Home to live out their final years under proper care and quiet. The injured, the sick, the unwed mothers, and transients would come and go.
Like most county homes, Medina County’s had a cemetery which would serve as the final resting place for its residents. Those who passed away and had neither family to retrieve their bodies nor funds for burials elsewhere were placed in a wooden casket made there on the farm and taken just up the road. A plot in the infirmary cemetery wasn’t exclusively reserved for its residents. Graves are known to be occupied by stillborn infants, laborers and transients who died unexpectedly, and some who were found and buried there without a name.
The land for the Medina County Infirmary was acquired by the County Commissioners over many years and several purchases. The first of these acquisitions was on June 7, 1855 when Heman and Jane Edwards sold a half-acre of land to the Commissioners of Medina County for the sum of twenty dollars as recorded in Volume 8, page 71 of the Medina County Land Records:
“….and is known as part of Lot number two (2) in Tract No. two (2) in said township of Lafayette, bounded as follows: commencing at the northwest corner of twelve acres of land in said lot sold by John S. Jones to the county commissioners of Medina County, thence east on the north line of said twelve acres to the center of the North & South road; thence north along the center of said highway fifty seven feet; thence west twenty-six rods to the west line of said lot number two; thence south along said west line to the place of beginning containing about one half acre of land….”
Next was the purchase of three parcels of land from John S. & Laura Jones on December 31, 1855. These parcels totaled 137 acres and include the land where the Infirmary buildings were constructed and still occupy today. Sold to the County Commissioners for the sum of five thousand dollars; it was recorded in Volume 8, pages 398 and 399 of the Medina County Land Records:
“….part of lot number five in tract No. two in said township of Lafayette, bounded north and south and west by the lines of said lot and east by a line parallel with the west line as so far there from to include seventy-five acres of land. Also the southeast part of Lot No. three in said Tract, bounded south and east by the lot line, north by a line east & west through the center of said lot, and west by a line parallel with the east line and so far there from as to contain fifty acres of land. Also a part of Lot No. Two in said Tract No. Two, commencing at the southwest corner of said lot No. 2, thence north on the west line of said lot eighteen chains & 13 links; thence east six chains & 56 links to the centre of said highway eighteen chains and 13 links to the south line of the lot, thence west six chains and 68 links to the place of beginning, containing twelve acres of land….”
Another parcel of almost eighteen acres was purchased on December 14, 1857 from James and Charlotte W. Fowler for the sum of two hundred and twenty dollars. This was recorded in Volume 11, page 270 of the Medina County Land Records:
“…and is known as a part of Lot No. Eight (8) in Tract No. 2 and bounded as follows: commencing at the northwest corner of said lot; thence east on the north line 17 chains, 52 links to a stake being seven chains west of the northwest corner of that part of said lot heretofore deeded by said Fowler to R. Williams; thence south 10 chains, 25 links to a stake; thence west parallel with north line 17 chains, 52 links to the west line of said lot; thence north on said west line 10 chains, 25 links to the place of beginning containing seventeen and 96/100 acres of land….”
The next four parcels of Infirmary land were purchased from William D. and Lydia D. Prouty. The first two of these parcels – totaling just over fifty-six acres – were sold to the County Commissioners on December 27, 1864 for the sum of $1963.57 and the sale of which was recorded in Volume 19, page 97 of the Medina County Land Records:
“….known as a part of Lot No. five in tract two in said township and bounded north and south by the line of said lot, east by land in said lot owned by Garrett Spitzer, and west by land in said lot owned by said County of Medina containing twenty-five acres of land. Also another tract or lot of land situated in said township of Lafayette, County of Medina, and State of Ohio and known as a part of Lot No. eight in Tract No. two in said township and bounded as follows: commencing on the north line of said lot at the northwest corner of land in said lot heretofore conveyed to R. Williams by James Fowler; thence south parallel with the east line of said lot twenty chains and 18 links to a stake; thence west parallel with the south line of said lot twenty-four chains and forty-two links to the west line of the lot; thence north on said west line nine chains and 70 links to a stake; thence east parallel with the north line of said lot seventeen chains, 52 links to a stake; thence north parallel with the west line of said lot ten chains, 25 links to the north line of said lot; thence east on said north line seven chains to the place of beginning containing thirty-one and 10/100 acres of land…..”
The last two of these parcels were acquired on March 27, 1865. The smaller of these parcels would be the land where the County Home Cemetery is known to be currently. Totaling about sixty-two acres and purchased for the sum of $2558.14, this transaction was recorded in Volume 19, page 452 of the Medina County Land Records:
“….and is known as part of Lot Number three in tract number two in said township bounded north and east by the lines of said lot, south by land belonging to Medina County Infirmary and west by a line parallel to the south line said east line of Lot number three (3) and so far there from as to contain fifty-acres of land, also a piece of land in Lot number two in Tract two in said township of Lafayette and bounded on the west and north by the line of said lot number two, east by the center of a north and south road which intersects the east and west center road in said township near the County Infirmary and on the south by land belonging to the County Infirmary containing twelve acres and sixty-three rods of land….”
One final piece of land was added to the infirmary farm when the heirs of Garrett Spitzer sold a piece of land totaling 116.89 acres of land to the County Commissioners on October 25, 1902 for the sum of $4675.60 as recorded in Volume 64, page 620 of the Medina County Land Records:
“…Situated in the township of Lafayette, County of Medina, and State of Ohio and known as a part of lots number one and two in tract number two in said Lafayette township, bounded and described as follows to wit: beginning on the south line of said lot number two in the center of the highway at the point where the west line of the right of way of the Cleveland and Southern Railroad crosses the center of said highway, twenty-three chains and twelve (12) links to a stone at the southeast corner of land in said lot now owned by Mary L. House; thence north along the east line of said Mary L. House’s land thirty-eight chains and thirty-nine links to a stone in the north line of said lot; thence east along the said north line and the north line of said lot number one, forty chains and seventy-five links to a stake and stone at the northwest corner of two-and-a-half acres of land now owned by John W? House in said lot number one; thence south along the west line of said one and one and one-half acres to the westerly line of the right of way of the said Cleveland and Southern Railroad; thence south-westerly along the westerly line of said right-of-way and twenty feet westerly at right angles from the center line of said Railroad to the place of beginning, containing one hundred and sixteen and 89/100 acres of land , there being about one half acre in said lot number one and the balance in lot number two….”
The railroad was put through the cemetery in 1903 – probably in the literal sense. The cemetery certainly wasn’t laid out in its current triangular shape and one has to wonder how many, if any, graves had the tracks laid over them. If that were the case, there could also be graves on the west side of the tracks in the field. Graves certainly could have been moved as well… but it is not known either way.
The sale of the railroad land by the County Commissioners to the Cleveland, Lorain & Wheeling Railroad Company on October 18, 1902 is detailed in Volume 72, page 4 of the Medina County Land Records:
“First Tract: Being part of Lot No. 2, Tract No. 2, Town 2N, Range 15W, said tract being a strip of land eighty (80) feet wide and ten hundred and eighty-seven and five tenths (1087.5) feet long and more particularly described as follows: Beginning at a point in the north line of said Lot No. 2, being the line between the lands of Daniel Weible and lands owned by the County of Medina and opposite Station 295 plus 92 of the location survey for second track between Lester and Chippewa Lake made by said Grantee in November 1901 and thirty-three (33) feet right angle measurement westerly from the centre line of said survey; thence south eighty-eight degrees and twenty minutes east (S 88° 20’ E) along said lot line eighty six and three tenths (86.3) feet more or less to a point forty-seven (47) feet , right angle measurement easterly from center line of said survey; thence south twenty degrees and twenty seven minutes east (S 20° 27’ E) parallel (??) and forty-seven (47) feet from said center line nine hundred and fifty-seven (957.0) feet to a point opposite station 306 plus 79.5 of said line, being the dividing line between the lands owned by said Medina County and Lee Foskett, also being the center line of public highway; thence south two degrees and twenty minutes west (S 2° 20’ W) along said dividing line two hundred and five and four tenths (205.4) feet to a point thirty-three (33) feet right angle measurement westerly from said center line; thence north twenty degrees and twenty-seven minutes west (N 20° 27’ W) parallel (??) and 33 feet from said center line eleven hundred and seventy-nine (1179) feet to the place of beginning and containing 1.93 acres of land.”
Note that the deed makes no reference to the cemetery through which the railroad was being built.
The cemetery would have gone into use not long after the infirmary opened. Expense reports reveal burials were made at least as early as 1860. Infirmary records for any period show a fairly steady number of deaths which is to be expected – much like a hospital.
This cemetery was not laid out with any reserved graves or purchased lots such as what you would find in most public cemeteries. Because of this, one could assume that graves were probably done in rows; one grave right after the other. The only known map of the cemetery shows filled rows of graves in the front of the cemetery by the road. Perhaps the cemetery was started in the front and gradually moved back away from the road.
So far as is known there were no grave markers ever used at this cemetery. The pine trees in the cemetery were planted by former superintendent Myron Barth. Interestingly, the road running past the cemetery – Deerview Lane – used to be called Infirmary Rd.
JOHN EWING – “ACTING UNDERTAKER”
Burying residents was, apparently, sometimes the job for the infirmary superintendent. John Ewing was the Infirmary Superintendent from at least 1909 to February of 1919. During his tenure, he can be found listed as the `acting undertaker’ on the death certificates of about twenty County Home residents. Whether or not other superintendents were involved in such duties is not known but, following Ewing, no other superintendent is listed as such.
PHASING OUT THE CEMETERY
When Myron Barth became infirmary superintendent in 1944 the cemetery began to be phased out of use. Only two county home residents would be buried in the cemetery during Barth’s tenure: George Bond and Ben Shade in 1947. Five others, all non-residents, would be buried in the cemetery between 1944 and 1950.
The reasons for discontinuing burials in the cemetery aren’t known with any certainty. It has been suggested that burials were discontinued because Myron Barth deemed it an inappropriate final resting place. It is also possible that the cemetery ceased to be used at that point because the cemetery was either determined to be full or that the records were lost.
RESTORATION AND REMEMBRANCE
The land was acquired by the Medina County Park District in 1991; though it was just another piece of land and not even recognizable as a cemetery by then. By the year 2000 the grounds were completely grown over with trees and poison ivy; the cemetery was nothing more than a whisper among old-timers. In 2006 that began to change as a number of local residents expressed an interest in cleaning up the cemetery and did just that. A large section of the parcel was cleared of brush, trees were cut down, and truckloads of debris were hauled away. A sign was erected to mark the site for the first time.
There are only two burials of military veterans known to have been made in this cemetery. John Rapp was a soldier under Napoleon. The other, Albert Baxter, is listed as having served in the military on his death certificate although further details could not be located. Rumors also exist of Confederate labor being buried there.
No official burial records exist for this cemetery. A crudely drawn map was found in county records and shows that some burials were made but little else. No official list of interments has been found and no key has been located to make sense of the numbers assigned to the graves on the map. The map was drawn up sometime after 1903 as it shows the railroad tracks. It shows that there was once a fence on the back side of the cemetery by those tracks. The map shows about sixty graves with some being numbered and three that are marked `baby’. The numbering goes in order for some rows and for others the numbering is sporadic. There is some duplication of a few numbers and the highest number is 109. Most of these graves follow a traditional burial layout – with rows running north-south and bodies laid facing from west to east. There are a few graves on the north end of the map which are shown to be buried in east-west rows. A notation also states `These rows filled by former Supt.’ with regards to the front of the cemetery by the road.
A register book exists that was started around 1909. In it can be found a record of every person admitted to the county home from that point up through the 1970’s. The book tells the person’s name, cause for being admitted, the date they were received, date of dismissal, and personal details such as dates of birth and death, etc. Very few of places of burial for the deceased are indicated and, of those, many were not buried in the County Home Cemetery. The book focuses more on details about the residents themselves and not the cemetery; for this reason there is also no information on `outsiders’ who were buried there.
Curiously, no WPA survey was done for this cemetery even though the cemetery was still being used for burials at the time. In fact, this cemetery does not appear on a single atlas or map of the area.
Due to this lack of records, burial information for the cemetery has been reconstructed using a variety of other sources.
From 1867 to 1908 death records and obituaries were researched. Most County Home residents did not have obituaries and, of those who died, many did not tell where that individual was buried. Similarly, death records for this time period only tell where the person died and not where they were buried. County Home residents are listed as dying at the Infirmary and other possible candidates can be found where individuals marked as `paupers’ were only found dying in Lafayette Twp.
From 1909 onward, death certificates and obituaries yielded information. Obituaries offered some clues while death certificates always indicated the place of burial.
While a certain number of burials have been identified through these means, if one uses the years from 1909 to 1950 – when the most information is available – we find that there was an average of over two burials per year. There are only five years (1921, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1948) for which no burials are known to have occurred and four of those were during the time period when the cemetery was, apparently, being phased out of use. Using the average of just two per year and applying that number over the course of the cemetery’s possible lifespan (1855 to 1950) we get 192 burials (96 years x 2 burials per year).