Ghost of the Past: Exploring Zanesville’s Historic Cemeteries

Woodlawn CemertLast Sunday I visited three burial sites in Zanesville with my grandparents, Rodger and Jan Gable. Grandma, a genealogist, was thrilled when I asked her to take me to cemeteries around Zanesville to learn more about Zanesville’s past. Before we started our adventures, we decided to pay a visit to a museum in the house of Dr. Increase Mathew to learn more about the forefathers of Zanesville. There I learned about the McIntires, the Black family, the Buckinghams, and many other famous families that helped settle the area. When I asked our tour guide about cemeteries in the area, he stated that the two largest, Woodlawn and Greenwood, have over 50,000 used burial sites between the two. This is twice the population of Zanesville today!

A. Buckingham

Alvah Buckingham, found in Muskingum County History

After our tour of Dr. Mathews’s home, we headed to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Putnam neighborhood. This cemetery was originally part of land that Dr. Mathew Increase donated to Putnam in 1802 to be used to bury the dead. The first person buried in this cemetery was Mathews’s first wife Abigail, dying after childbirth in the same year. In 1850, this burial ground along with the land beside it was bought by Charles Convers and Albert Guthrie from Dr. Mathew and was named Woodlawn Cemetery. Some of the prominent people of our county’s history are buried there. Alvah Buckingham, who is from New York, ran a very successful store in Zanesville and helped built the first grain elevator in Chicago, is buried here.

Ebenezer Buckingham

Ebenezer Buckingham Gravestone in Woodlawn Cemetery

Another Buckingham that was buried in Woodlawn is Ebenezer Buckingham. Ebenezer Buckingham died while overseeing the building of the third Y-Bridge, which he owned and helped design. As a flood in 1832 threatened to destroy all the progress on the bridge, Buckingham told his workers to remove the wedges that held the support beams in place. This should have weakened the bridge, but prevent it from being washed always from the flood. When they did this the bridge collapsed and Buckingham and James Boyd were killed. It was not hard to find his memorial in Woodlawn. Buckingham’s gravestone is by far the largest in the entire cemetery, being at least 30 or so feet tall, which showed the great wealth the family already possessed.

Another influential family we found was the Black family. The Blacks were originally from Ireland. During the early 1800’s two daughters and seven sons moved to Zanesville. The brothers all put lasting contributions into Zanesville such as Graham Black, who helpedfound The First National Bank of Zanesville, which two other brothers assisted in running. Another Black brother, Peter, formed the Ohio Iron company and several other businesses in the area.

Ebe Wildman, lived for over 115 years!

Ebe Wildman, lived for over 115 years!

While all these graves were people who are remembered in the local history of Zanesville, some were not. One of these local families has one very interesting grave. The Wildman’s family plot had one grave-marker that was a steel iron box. On each side was inscribed the names of four different members of the Wildman family. This surname originated from medieval England and would have been given to the Wildman’s ancestor for being wild or ferocious. While the family name was interesting to learn about, the part of the grave-marker that I found most interesting was that one family member, Ebe Wildman, was said to have lived 115 years, 5 months, and 12 days before she died on May 4, 1895. Ebe, amazingly, lived through the writing of the Constitution, Ohio becoming a state, a civil war, and 24 presidents. She could have told us so many stories!

John and Amelia's Grave

The final resting place of one of the founders of Zanesville and his young daughter

The second burial ground we visited was Pioneer Hill, located between Zanesville Middle School and Zanesville High School. This burial ground contained only two graves, John McIntire and his Daughter, Amelia McIntire. This burial site is the third such sight for them. Their original resting place was Pioneer Hill, but had to be moved due a expanding of the Pioneer Hill School that threaten to overtake the original grave. The bodies from the old pioneer cemetery were moved to Greenwood, except for McIntire and his daughter, who were moved to McIntire Childrens’ Home in 1889. This home was eventually bought out by the Zanesville school district and became the campus of both Zanesville Middle School and High School.

The most informative grave on our trip

The most informative grave-marker on our trip

The final cemetery we visited was the Greenwood cemetery on Greenwood Avenue. This cemetery, built in 1835, did not have as many tall monuments as Woodlawn, but still had as many graves if not more. We did not find many famous residents of Zanesville in this cemetery as Woodlawn, but the most informative grave we saw was found in Greenwood. Jacob Spangler and his wife Martha Washington Wyatt, had two very different ancestral origins, with the name Spangler having a German origin and Wyatt having an Anglo-Saxon origin. On their tombstone it said that Jacob was a private in the war of 1812 under Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Hood and fought in the Defense of Baltimore in 1814, otherwise known as the Battle of Baltimore. On the other side of the gravestone it stated that Martha was a direct descendent of John Alden, who was an original passengers on the Mayflower. This tombstone was not the original one that would have sat after the deaths of Jacobs in 1857 and Martha in 1880.This stone was a replacement of an older one that was placed by their grandson in 1927. This stone is just so incredible for all the information that is on it. In fact most gravestones that we viewed had a great deal of information on them, usually not only having the years in which they were born and died, but who their direct relation was, who they married, and even where they were originally from. This is all great information for historians to look further into the past to learn more about the people behind the gravestones.

I would like to thank my Grandparents for all their help on this blog post, I would not have found half of these stones without them.

Further Reading:

A Pictorial History of Zanesville and Muskingum County

City of Zanesville

Find A Grave: Amelia McIntire

Find a Grave: John McIntire

John McIntire Elementary

History of Muskingum County 1882

History of Zanesville High School

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2 Responses to Ghost of the Past: Exploring Zanesville’s Historic Cemeteries

  1. jpenrod2013 says:

    This was a really incredible post. I kind of wish I had been closer to home so I could take the time to go all around mine, I never thought of how many cool things you could find around towns that aren’t exactly the biggest. Thanks for sharing!

  2. bbonacci says:

    Wow! What a great post. I really like how curious you are about your town history. I also wish I was closer to home to take more time into my posts. You have great information!

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