CAMDEN — The Village of Camden was notified by the Ohio Historical Marker Program on Nov. 12 that its Old Camden Orchard Hill Cemetery application, written by the Camden Archives for the Village, had been accepted as worthy of a Historical Marker. Additionally, the OHMP reported that Camden’s nomination package was selected to receive a grant to fund the cost of a standard Ohio Marker, up to $3,180.
This cemetery’s story predates the 1818 founding of Dover, later renamed Camden. In 1817, Revolutionary War veteran and future Camden founder, James Moore Sr., and his wife, Mary, deeded ¾ acre to the trustees of the Methodist Episcopal Church for “a place of worship.”
Although the church was not built until 1825, and later relocated down within the village in 1836, the earliest interment found on the property was 5-year-old Simon P. Zimmerman in 1818.
The Old Cemetery was expanded in 1852 when Felix and Rachel Marsh sold a one-acre-plot to the M.E.C “for a graveyard.” The expanded cemetery on the west hill became known as the “Old Camden Orchard Hill Cemetery” due to its proximity to fruit orchards then covering the northwest part of Camden.
Prominent early Camden citizens, victims of the 1849 cholera epidemic, and veterans of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican American War, and Civil War are among the buried.
After Fairmount Cemetery was established north of Camden in 1873, burials in the Old Cemetery ceased by 1880. By the late 1880’s the Old Cemetery became neglected, overgrown, and forgotten. Over the years most gravestones were lost from view — buried or scattered under brush.
In 2006, a small group of local volunteers began restoring the cemetery, using private funds. With restoration completed in 2010, it is still under volunteer maintenance in 2020, and 117 beautifully restored stones gleam on the always well-manicured hillside.
Upon delivery sometime in 2021, the 200 lb., 48.5 by 46 inch Ohio Historical Marker will join the ancient stone markers on the hill.