Startled and intrigued by our first encounter with old graveyards hidden among the sprawling middle class homes in our area we did some research (Hint: always do your research first if you can you will be delighted by the wealth of information you can find with just a few well placed key words) and found this quiet little plot. It was a cold and overcast day in December of 2014, a day perfect to go exploring in and among the gravestones.
We followed our GPS to the site which to our surprise sat right on the road as opposed to the Schuff-Meyer Pioneer Cemetery, which was nearby and sat well off the road, the Coleman- Ritter Pioneer Cemetery sits right on the road and could clearly be seen by anyone driving by. Why after living here 50+ years I had not noticed it before is a mystery to me. This cemetery is slightly older than the first one we had found, dating from around 1800 to just after the Civil War and although it is in descent shape it is in a far worse condition than the other. There is an ongoing restoration project to bring back the beauty of all three pioneer cemeteries in Sharonville and you can tell some work has been attempted such as a new sign, an attempt to match gravestones with burial plots and landscape improvements but being literally right up against some of the nearby homes foundations it still seems in disarray.
As we were walking around we noticed a lot of strange and sometimes creepy things about this old but not quite forgotten place. You could see that many of the headstones were broken right down to the ground and there were a lot of depressions in the area that led us to think that these were unmarked graves where the soil had subsided over the years. Two or three of the headstones were not even visible until you got right on top of them because large trees had grown directly out of the graves and the headstones were broken into pieces positioned within the tangle of the tree’s roots. It was a strange site to look down between a split in the trees and see barely visible shards of stone buried in the tangle of roots.
The whole place was wonderful and quite bizarre at the same time. The nearness to the homes on either side gave me a chill because I knew that some of the burials were in what was now someones yard. There was a hillside that led down to the road near the back of the cemetery and you could see that over the years as the hillside slumped it had carried the graves along with it. I could clearly see what was once a line of headstones that was being carried downhill with the soil over the years. I looked at this and wondered where the occupants were really located now?
As we always find there were several odd and unique things here, (Hint: look closely and investigate thoroughly, the tiny details are sometimes the most interesting ones and they usually lead to some cool discoveries everyone else will miss). We found one headstone sculpted into a tree stump with a unreadable scroll draped over the top and what looked like a rose vine winding around the stump but the flower at the top had been broken away so it was hard to tell. Most of the burials here were fallen Union soldiers, their regiments commemorated with them, all were local boys but one tombstone drew our attention to it. It was brand new, perhaps part of the restoration project or perhaps a remembrance from a grateful descendant. This one read much like the others but to our amazement it listed this soldier as a volunteer with a CSA regiment! Imagine, in life he had been an friend, relative or neighbor of the others buried here and then during the turbulent years of the Civil War an enemy, a foe against which the others had sought to kill. Now in death they rested together again as brothers united by the great equalizer.
It was beginning to get cold and dark (Hint: most cemeteries close at dark…or do they?) so we decided to pack it in an head out to parts unknown when I saw a little path in the back of the cemetery. I decided to take a peek while the girls we heading to the car and again I was surprised (this happens a lot on our excursions thats what makes them a blast). The path led over a little red bridge to the community center pool, a place I had passed a thousand times and I had wondered just where that little red bridge went, another question answered and another mystery solved…………
We have one more Pioneer cemetery in Sharonville to investigate and WOW this one is in perhaps the strangest place we have yet seen…so stay tuned …….