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CHANGING OF THE GUARD AT LIBERTY CEMETERY
Thursday August 29, 1985


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Pix #1 - Entrance view to Liberty Cemetery on County road 635. It is a beautiful, well-kept country burial place. Man in photo is Dicken.

Pix #2 - Howard Dicken - ...at 94 ends 60 years of cemetery guardianship.

Pix #3 - Michael Hartsel ...chosen by Dicken to succeed him as cemetery caretaker.

Liberty Cemetery on County Road 635, east of Fostoria, one of the nice, old rural spots for burials that has been in existence since 1873, is undergoing a change of the guard so to speak.

Howard E. Dicken, Eastwood Drive, in charge of that cemetery for the past 60 years is now 94 and believes it is time to turn it over to a younger man. The new attendant, Michael Hartsel, under Dicken's direction, has been undergoing a "course of instruction". He is being informed about the important points Dicken has followed to make it the beautiful cemetery it has been for many years. Hartsel and his family live at 6478 N. Ohio 635.

LAND DONATED BY EARLY SETTLERS

Originally, land for the cemetery was given by John Thomas, a resident of that rural area, for the burial of his wife, Mary. Later, a group of residents in Liberty Township formed the Cemetery Association. The group was composed of : Upton Ash, G.W. Ash, J.R. Bunn, George Sour, N.H. Remsburg, John McLaughlin, Edmund Dicken and George Woolcott.

For many years the association held annual meetings to discuss cemetery matters and to enjoy fellowship at a dinner held in Liberty Church, adjacent to the cemetery. Howard Dicken, the prime mover in the association for many years, has given up that activity too, and it is doubtful that anyone else will follow in his footsteps and keep it going.

DICKEN TOOK FULL CARE 60 YEARS

Throughout his years of association with Liberty Cemetery, Dicken has not only looked after the business matters pertaining to the cemetery, but has done the manual jobs too...digging graves, mowing grass, arranging for burials, etc.

The day I visited with Howard and wife Hazel in their Eastwood Drive home, they showed me the map of the cemetery, plotted with the graves with the names of all those buried there...approximately 1,000...also the available lots.

There is only one burial lot with the interred unknown. Dicken related how a man was found dead in that area one cold winter day, with no identification. He had to be buried so he was put in a roughbox and assigned a spot in the Liberty Cemetery, Howard said.

DICKENS RECALLS UNUSUAL THINGS

Dicken revealed that Richard R. "Pappy" Harrison of Bettsville was the last person buried at Liberty. "He was a very large man", Howard said. "They had to get an extra large casket for his remains, and it required eight men to carry it."

"The hardest work I ever done at the cemetery was in the winter of 1936. The ground was rozen 36 inches deep, and I had to chop the ground out with an axe to get it ready to receive the cakset, he said.

The church building that is adjacent to Liberty Cemetery and known all these years as Liberty Church, goes back to 1873. It was an out growth of an early Sandusky Circuit appointment at the John Thomas home, three miles west of Bettsville, Thomas having come to the area from Rochester, N.Y.

Leading charter members of the early church were Peter Erb, William B. Flack, Amanda Bunn, Isaac Michaels, widow Thomas and daughter Mary, Elizabeth and Mrs. Nancy Wyant. Later members were the families of Charles and G.H. Park and James Harrison.

CEMETERY ASSOCIATION OWNS OLD CHURCH

The church building was sold in 1925 to the Liberty Township Cemetery Association. Since then, the building has been kept in repair for funerals, community functions, and homecoming events, that are about to cease, unless someone takes an interest in keeping them going.

Dicken has been a faithful steward of the cemetery and church building for many years. Hartsel must be a good choice for replacement or he would have not been chosen by Dicken.

The church building is being rented and used by a Baptist group who plan to eventually build a new church on Ohio 12, closer to Bettsville.

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