LEWISBURG — Many important figures from Lewisburg’s early history have been buried in Roselawn Cemetery. As a way to teach the students of Tri-County North Elementary School (TCNES) a little more about their village’s history — and as a way to celebrate the village’s upcoming bicentennial — several volunteers dressed as those figures to share a little history in a fun way.
The TCNES Cemetery Walk took place on Friday, Aug. 24, bringing together community members to teach TCN students about the founders of the village.
Librarian Rachel Davidson worked for a year and a half to gather information on historical figures in the area.
“Two years ago, my cousin, Abby Kring, arranged for our families to go on a cemetery walk in Dayton. People dressed up as some of the people buried there and told their story. Afterwards, my aunt and I were talking and I told her it was a shame that we didn’t do something like this for our cemetery in our little town and that even little ole Lewisburg had to have some people of interest. After a year and a half of research, and with the help of Angie Getter and the staff at Preble County Genealogy Library, the walk began,” Davidson said.
“Eighteen volunteers played the part of people buried there who represented some of the history of Lewisburg. The tour acquainted students with some of the cemetery’s earliest residents, as they shared brief accounts of their lives and contributions to Lewisburg and Ohio.
“In preparation for the tour, students watched a presentation in the library about Cemetery etiquette and what symbols on the headstones meant. They were shown military markers and what wars they represented. The most interesting thing they learned and most don’t know, was about coins on a stone. A coin left on a headstone or at the grave site is meant as a message to the deceased soldier’s family that someone else has visited. A nickel indicates that you and the deceased trained at boot camp together, while a dime means you served with the deceased in some capacity. By leaving a quarter at the grave, you are telling the family that you were with the soldier when the veteran was killed.”
According to Davidson, while on the tour students learned about Henry Horn who platted Lewisburg, Joseph Singer who was probably the first settler, Granville Kumler who was mayor, State Senator, and editor of The Lewisburg Leader; Rebecca Sharp whoo was kidnapped by Indians, and Martin Gates, who pushed for sidewalks in Lewisburg and received the first telegraph.
Maud Tilman has a unique gravestone shaped like a tree stump, meaning her life was cut too short. Charles Cox was an up- and-coming race car driver in the 1930s who died in a crash during a race, while the person causing the crash went on to win the race.
After hearing each presentation, students placed a flower on the headstone in honor of that person.
“If we make learning fun, they will remember it. I want to make some positive memories for our students, while they learn that even they have a story to tell,” she said. “I wanted students to hear the triumphs and tragedies of people in our community, right here where they live.
“We all have a story, and being the librarian, I wanted to make stories come alive for them. When I started this I didn’t realize that Lewisburg’s bicentennial was coming up. It all just seemed to come together and made the perfect opportunity to promote the 200th celebration and get students excited about history.
“With the Bicentennial celebration coming up, I also did a self guided walking tour map of both Roselawn and the Lower Lewisburg Cemeteries,” Davidson said. “Those people are flagged in the cemeteries and maps with information can be obtained at the Bicentennial Store or Roselawn’s Cemetery Office.”
This is the second time the walk was attempted. A previous effort was made, but cancelled due to rain.
Davidson added, “[I] would like to thank Angie Getter and the staff at the Preble County Genealogy Library in Eaton that helped with the research. A huge thank you to the volunteers who took time out of their day to play a part while maintaining the dignity of the person they were portraying. They are: Alice Rayburg, Barb Hake,, David Steck, Joyann Scott, Kaylee Lebo, Nancy Tilton, Christy Milhouse, Mark Madigan, Logan Justis, Sharon Justis, Angie Getter, Abby Kring, Alan & Sheila DeMotte, Angela Cherry, Del and Jeff Sewert, Everett Trittschuh, Pam Baker, and Eli Davidson.
“A special thanks to Cemetery Sexton David Steck, Harrison Township Trustees Joe Conley and John Ferguson, along with their staff for helping with the behind the scenes. Lastly, thanks to the Tri-County North administrators, lunch staff, and Elementary staff for their flexibility in making lasting memories for our students.”
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH