I have enjoyed history and cemeteries all of my life. Besides working on my own family genealogies since 1987, my most pride and joy is the rediscovering of the pioneer cemetery here in Lorain Ohio.
It all began in 1984 when I was a teenager and stopped there to see an empty allotment. I visually imagined a cemetery where the current lot was earthed over. Then the digging began, and the slabs of stones were unearthed. These names were spoken once again, and their history, their life began to tell a story of the city of Lorain. Black River Twp. was the original name of this settlement established in 1817, before it was incorporated to Charleston Village in 1836, then finally, the City of Lorain in 1873.
I have been the cemetery's caretaker for 30 years and in that time, much sweat equity was invested, physically digging up buried headstones lost to modernity. Crumbled, aged headstones were replaced and I have been able to repair the ones that were salvagable. I have worked consistently to piece together the questions that long have left us wondering about those buried there.
In the last 10 years, with the help of donations,from families, friends, the Charlestion Village Society Inc, Black River Historical Society, Black River Genealogists, and the City of Lorain, there is now running water and electricity. New Archways were installed at both entrances, fencing has been erected, a ceremony to dedicate a new flagpole, all in an effort to preserve our past.
In the past, we have held Candlelight Tours, Cemetery Ghost tours as well as tours for our local school children. We have welcomed local girl scouts and boys scouts who volunteer their time planting flowers, gardening, and working on preservation of name plague, as a way of giving back to the city. All have been greatly appreciated.
Along with being the caretaker I am also a member of the Board of Directors for Charleston Village Society Inc, which enables me to oversee projects to maintain and preserve the history of this cemetery, to make known that these were not just slabs of stone they were the names of people who arrived here to make their dreams for a better future.
The Preservation Network of Lorain County granted Landmark Status to the Charleston Pioneer Cemetery in 2006, and in 2007, it was the recipient of the Lorain Beautification Award sponsored by the Lorain County Chamber of Commerce.