The past week has been a flurry of emails, blog, and Facebook comments of concerned people interested in the Shannon Cemetery in Bluffton, Ohio. This week I have not been actively engaged in much beyond sharing what I know based on news articles and information provided by people in the area. All the same, it pleases me to see that there are a number of residents that are now reaching out to various news outlets and trying to get Historical and Veteran associations involved. I was disappointed to see that comments were repeatedly deleted from the Bluffton Icon articles on the website if they voiced any other point of view. So much for freedom of speech.
So I’ve allowed all the comments that others have made on my own blog post. There were those that said I didn’t know what I was talking about. Granted, I don’t live in Bluffton, but I do know a fair amount about the law and preservation as it relates to cemeteries. I care about ALL cemeteries. They are the places of America’s pioneers and explorers. We have to take care of these sacred places because otherwise the history of our people will be destroyed with time.
I was accused of needing to get a hobby. I couldn’t help but laugh at this. If anything I have too many hobbies! Genealogy is my hobby. I research my family and those of my friends and others that I care about. As an Ohio resident and a Trustee of the Ohio Genealogical Society I feel that is my responsibility to assist those that are concerned about issues within the state related to genealogy. I was contacted by a coworker who grew up in Bluffton (as I mentioned in the last blog post) to see what I might be able to find out. That’s why I became involved. Not to mention that if I find out in 20 years that my ancestors were from Bluffton and I go to Shannon Cemetery and there was no way to tell where my ancestor was buried… I’d be very upset.
Another refrain I’ve heard is that there is nothing left of the bodies. Well I hate to break it to you folks, but you are misinformed. Bones take hundreds of years to completely decompose. And while the roadwork may have had some impact on the cemetery, those remains that were disturbed were relocated to a new location. That is the proper way to handle it. I do not doubt that the park would be a nice addition to Bluffton, but this is a really disrespectful way to handle the remains and the stones.
There are those that say there is nothing that can be done now. That it is too late to change the plans. I disagree. In my opinion, there are a number of options that are available that could “fix” the situation.
1. Return the headstones to the cemetery and place as closely as they can to the original locations.
2. Move those buried in the locations where the gazebo and parking lot are planned and set their stones with their bodies. All other stones returned to the proper location.
There are probably many opportunities to make Shannon Cemetery a place to be proud of for the Village of Bluffton. I hope that in time the residents, council, and other interested parties figure out the solution. In the meantime, please visit the “Save Shannon Cemetery” Facebook Community and weigh in on what you’d like to see happen.