The River Styx Cemetery has always been easy to see as you drive by it, but the receiving vault on the south side of this pioneer burial ground – not so much. Passers by would catch a glimpse of the stone structure – located, literally, inside of a small hill – raising their curiosities as to what might be contained inside.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
The front of the receiving vault as it has looked for decades.

History holds that it was built in or about 1844 and used like many such vaults – to `receive’ the corpses of the deceased and keep them until they could be buried. The frozen ground during northeast Ohio winters can be unforgiving and made the digging of graves nearly impossible at times – before the advent of modern power equipment. An additional – and considerably darker – purpose of this vault was noted in the 1881 History of Medina County (pg. 475):

“At Wilson’s Corners, there having been several cases of grave-robbing, the citizens constructed quite a large receiving vault in their little cemetery a short distance south from the village. This vault is still in good condition, and is the only one of the kind in Guilford Township.”

The cemetery, which dates back to at least 1838, has been maintained by Guilford Township in recent years and has been generally well-kept but the area on and around the receiving vault has been overgrown for many decades. With an interest in revitalizing the cemetery, some local volunteers – organized by Charlie Selzer – have already made a noticeable improvement.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
The front of the receiving vault as it appears today.

Tammy Collins, whose son Luke was interred in the newer section of the cemetery after his passing in 2016, enlisted the help of six of his friends from the Wadsworth graduating class of 2014: Andrew Sidol, Tyler Erbse, Dylan Grazier, Daniel Wuth, Robbie Bosley, and Brooke Braman.

On Saturday, August 6th, along with additional volunteers Woody Smith, Tom Lethco, and myself, decades of weeds, thorns, brush, and other debris was cleared and hauled away so that the vault and south side of the cemetery can be presentable again.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
Several trailer loads of brush and debris (right) were removed as the hill was cleared (left).

River Styx Market supplied water to the crew during the cleanup. Later on, hot dogs (prepared by Troy Selzer) along with chips, beverages and ice cream were had by all.

The secluded and creepy appearance of the structure had been a magnet not just for the curious but also loiterers. The two iron gates did allow for peeks inside but vandals still attempted to enter the vault and did serious damage to them.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
The iron gates to the receiving vault.

Following a few hours of hard work by Woody Smith and Tom Lethco, the gates were finally removed and will be restored by Joe Garn who lives just down the road from the cemetery. They will then be remounted and locked – this time more securely – to maintain the integrity of this valuable, historical landmark.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
Tom Lethco and Woody Smith carefully remove the iron gates that secured the entrance.
River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
The damage to these gates by vandals is going to be repaired.
River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
Entrance after the iron gates were removed.
River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault
Inside the receiving vault.

River Styx Cemetery Receiving Vault

The inside of the vault measures ten feet in width, eighteen feet in length, and is eight feet tall at its greatest height. There are no bodies buried inside of it. Structurally, it is in remarkably good shape given its age and lack of regular upkeep; with only minor damage to a few areas. The rubble found inside has many origins: one structural piece from the wall, another large piece from the outside somewhere, some pieces of broken pottery/urns, some pieces of rock/mortar from the ceiling inside, a few that were just plain rocks (a lot of those at this cemetery), and even a few fragments of an old tombstone.

River Styx Cemetery, L.G. Wilson
These might be pieces of the original headstone for L.G. Wilson.

The plan is for further cleanup work in the future which may also include the cleaning and repair of several tombstones. The layout of the old section is being reconstructed and a few more previously, unknown burials have been documented in this process. Check back to this website for further updates on the project as well as information about the history of River Styx Cemetery and the people buried there.