On a chilly but sunny day on our way to another cool and interesting destination (which will be featured in an upcoming post) me and Ms. Marsha made an unexpected and startling new find that has sent us off on a new an unexpected quest, to locate and explore the little known and largely forgotten realm of “suburban graveyards.”
It’s a wonder what you can uncover by just driving around and keeping your eyes peeled. We have discovered many strange, bizarre, beautiful and oh yes creepy wonders of America’s past by doing just that. (Hint: keep your eyes on the road to, you never know what it going to jump out at you!) We were in the middle of a quite middle-class neighborhood and what should catch our eyes but a nondescript sign announcing that the “Cemetery Closes At Dusk.” I did a double take because not only were we smack in the middle of suburbia but I had lived and trolled the small town of Sharonville, Ohio for 50+ years and had no inkling of what we were about to find.
We backed up the car, turned down a small paved lane between two well kept homes, the sign behind the one announcing the cemetery’s closing time, warned that “No Dumping” was allowed. As we pulled behind the houses to our left was a small rise with several headstones, poking off the top of the hill, like small trees that had been stunted and that were about ready to give up the ghost (pardon the pun)…lol
There is a small two to three car parking lot and we pulled in unsure of exactly what or who was waiting for us. The first thing we encountered was a small garden plot with an engraved (another pun..sorry) natural boulder stating that this was an Eagle Scout project some years back but it was still maintained and looked nice even though winter was fast approaching. As we walked further along and topped the rise we could see 10-12 standing but leaning to on side or the other, grave markers and several other ones that had fallen and become embedded in the soil as if they were a natural feature of the earth.
I was completely amazed that in the middle of all these homes was an old and fairly dilapidated family plot known as the Shuff-Meyers Pioneer Cemetery. Dating from just before the Civil War until the late 1890’s and named after Jonathan Shuff a local 20 year old Union soldier who had fallen at the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi on May 23rd, 1863. Whether or not his earthly remains were actually interred here or he remained where he fell at Vicksburg in still unclear.
Under restoration, along with several other mostly unknown plots in the city, it was so unexpected, especially because of the bizarre setting, that my mouth hung open in utter amazement as I gazed over the site. To be tucked away right here with the sounds and sites of suburban America all around was an unexpected revelation to me. When you open our eyes to what is around you there is just no telling what is liable to catch your attention in the most unexpected, beautiful and even spooky ways. (Hint: open your eyes and your mind to the unknown and the unexpected and you too will be amazed and bewildered at what you might find).
As we explored, read the inscriptions (those that were still visible and not worn off after 130 years of exposure to the elements) we eventually wandered to the back of the hill where a ridge line runs behind the homes and a deep canyon, probably 60-70 feet deep, had formed on both sides, we found a path leading deeper into the suburban woods. As we explored we came upon an even more bizarre site. First was a pair of panties hanging from a tree and a few feet beyond a summer dress and then just beyond this was a bra proudly displayed in the branches…uhhhh …WTF…either this was a memorial to a very fun night in the woods or a dump site for some unknown serial killer that haunted the surrounding jungle displaying the trophies of his grizzly work. Either way things were getting creepier by the minute and the loud harsh knocking of a woodpecker up in the canopy added a soundtrack that combined with the setting was beginning to spook us even in the brilliant mid-December sun.
We decided it was time to head out to our original destination but not before we said our goodbyes to the residents of this particular and peculiar enclave. (Hint: it’s a cemetery so always be respectful in your silence or even say a few quiet words, some of these places have not been visited in a long time and the residents just might be lonely).
As we left I looked for some other sign or marker that would tell us more (we didn’t really know anything about this place, even the name,
until we came back and did some research) and all we found was a stone circle with two vacant wooden posts surrounded by mulch. This was where the sign that was supposed to greet you upon your arrival should have been but it was missing and later we figured that it was probably being restored as well. We plan to go back and take a picture of it when it is returned so that our little unexpected adventure will be complete and come about full circle. (Hint: never leave the circle incomplete it’s the way of the universe).
Stay tuned for more grave encounters in suburbia! Now that we know they’re there we have found and explored several more and all of them have so new revelations for us. Truth is now that we have had our eyes opened we have come across quite a few in plain site that we couldn’t see before??????
The Shuff-Meyer Pioneer Cemetery is located near 10677 Sharondale Road, Sharonville, OH