It’s about a 15-minute walk down Sugar Shack and Hush trails to reach the Stratford Ecological Center’s 200-year-old cemetery.
The nonprofit, 3083 Liberty Road, plans to restore Stratford Cemetery, located on a knoll off of Hush Trail, within the next three years. The 8,250-square-foot cemetery has recorded burials from 1816 to 1888. The area is now a shadow of what it once was during its 72-year-old usage period with boundaries not clearly defined and some grave stones broken, on the ground or illegible.
Some maintenance was done at the site since the center was founded in the 1990s to educate the public about the relationship between living things and the environment.
“We always had this cemetery back there that no one paid attention to,” said David Hoy, development director of the organization.
Center volunteers John Tetz and Liz Barker began researching the cemetery in the fall of 2013. With the support of the center’s founder, Louise Warner, and its executive director/farmer, Jeff Dickinson, Tetz and Barker started their trek to determine the historic value of the cemetery.
“We’re going to do this in a real orderly fashion,” Tetz said.
County commissioners awarded the center in May a $6,067 community enhancement grant for the cemetery’s ground-penetrating radar service and granite markers.
Ohio Valley Archaeology Inc. will conduct the radar of the cemetery Tuesday — weather permitting. Jarrod Burks, director of archaeological geophysics at the firm, said it has provided radar services for a “fair number” of cemeteries.
The process for Stratford Cemetery will require two to three types of equipment including radar, he said, with radio waves emitted into the grounds in the hope that some will bounce back.
“It’s kind of like mowing your yard,” Burks said. “You push it back and forth.”
The process will provide the latest accurate number of how many graves were dug along with the original fencing of the cemetery, he said.
“Ground penetrating radar is going to tell us how many are buried and where they are buried,” Tetz said. “They’re going to give us a map of the cemetery.”
So far, the volunteer has determined there are 59 burials at the cemetery, according to five historical documents. Four of them were from the Delaware County Genealogical Society at the main library with the assistance the society’s June Feuillerat and Susan Logan, a volunteer researcher at the Delaware County Historical Society.
Prominent burials include Forrest Meeker, a colonel during the War of 1812; James Kooken, a captain during the Revolutionary and 1812 wars; and Peter Kroninger, a soldier from the Civil War. Meeker, who once owned the property where the cemetery was located, now has a bronze War of 1812 flag marker at his grave, issued from the federal government.
Four of the known burials are Meekers, Tetz said. Meeker was buried with his wife, Patience, who was the only known burial in 1843, rather than Oak Grove Cemetery when he died in 1849.
The former Stratford Methodist Episcopal Church was about 100 yards southeast of the cemetery when it was donated by Meeker in the 1840s. The church was involved with 43 known burials. About 60 percent of the known burials are males and 22 percent were under the age of six. Many of the burials included mill workers, local farmers and their families.
“This a historic, private cemetery,” Tetz said. “[And] it’s a community cemetery.”
As part of it’s restoration efforts, the center has already cleared about 20 trees; honeysuckle and poison ivy from the cemetery grounds for the radar next week.
“This is an exciting project,” Hoy said. “We’re rediscovering history.”
Brandon Klein can be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.