Seven years ago today, we buried my father.
Humor me here as I re-post this one…It’s not all about him, but I think he’d have liked it.
There are myths, stories, and fables galore about the Germantown Union Cemetery in Germantown, Ohio.
Most of them are false.
One particular story, popularized in the 1980s and ballyhooed on a yahoo contributor website, is totally false.
The story grabs one’s interest quickly by saying, “If you’re looking for a place in the Germantown/Miamisburg area of Ohio to see some ghosts and ghouls this Halloween, look no further than the Germantown Cemetery. The Germantown Cemetery is reputed to be one of the most haunted places in Montgomery County, Ohio, second only to the Air Force Museum, and possibly the Patterson Homestead.”
The story goes on to say that a Confederate soldier, who died in one of battles in Southwestern Ohio, is buried there. There is a Rebel there, but no one is sure from whence he came! There were very few battles in Ohio, and none of them were close to Germantown.
The fable tells us that the soldier haunts the burial ground because A: he had a change of heart and realized that the Union was the right side and asked that he be buried in a Union Cemetery, or B: his family couldn’t afford to retrieve the body and bury him in his southern homeland, or C: he’s lost in the afterlife and looking for his battalion.
Pish-posh times 3.
First of all, when the Germantown Cemetery was founded back in 1849, it was just that, simply the Germantown Cemetery.
It didn’t become the Germantown Union Cemetery until 1979. I hate to burst the hopes and dreams of paranormal investigators every where, but it wasn’t even named for the few Union soldiers buried there, nor for the Union, its victory, or anything to do with the War Between The States.
It is called the Germantown Union Cemetery because two civic bodies own, run, and maintain it.
German Township, and the City/Village (depending on population this week) of Germantown work together to keep the place UP.
There are three board memebers: a trustee from the township, a council member from the village, and an at large representative. No, there is not a weigh-in!
According to someone in the know, like guy running the place these days, Mark Steinecker, some teenagers had too much hooch and weed one night and came UP with the story. It was told, re-told, and well, a lie told often enough…
But, there are some things that make the Cemetery interesting.
There’s a movie and Broadway star buried there.
Eddie Bruce, a Germantown native came home to rest in the 46 acre cemetery on the West end of Germantown.
And there is one soul interred there who actually witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
The Cemetery was started in 1849 for the same reason most of the rural cemeteries were started. The city fathers decided that all those graves in the Lutheran churchyard were just too risky to the town’s water supply, and well, the Rural Cemetery Movement was revving UP to high gear, and there you have it.
Let’s buy some land, move some bodies, and start a Cemetery.
So, in 1849, bodies buried in 1811 were moved along with others from Warren Street to Market Street in the new landscaped cemetery.
It is typical movement material.
Beautifully landscaped, laid out if you will, and designed for solitude, solace, comfort, and beauty, the park covers 46 acres, contains 11,000 graves, and over 8,000 headstones.
Many of them bear the names of founding fathers.
And the first families of Germantown have many, many ancestors resting there.
It is truly a place of beauty.
Tall towering trees shade graves over 100 years old.
And newer sections, added over time, are no less beautiful in their simplicity as they wait for nature to take over and the trees to grow UP around them.
You’ll find one year old graves interspersed with 100 year old plots; the cemetery isn’t just a piece of history, it a working cemetery with a full crew who keeps it beautiful year round.
As I said, it is the final resting place of the founding fathers, newcomers, friends, classmates, and family.
We buried my father there just over three years ago on a hot and rare October day. He would have been 92 today.
When I get UP there, I go out the cemetery. I pass high school friends, mentors, teachers, and family – blood and extended.
It is a resting place, just as the city fathers planned. But it isn’t the final resting place. It is simply a stopping point.