Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008
By Pat Royse
Written boundaries sought for old Butler Township cemetery
COLDWATER - Local genealogical society members and Butler Township trustees hope to negotiate an agreement on boundaries of the old Burntwood Cemetery with the owner of the land that surrounds it.
Carolyn Brandon of the Mercer County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society on Monday night presented trustees with a packet of information tracing the history of the 146-year-old cemetery at the corner of Younger and Coldwater Creek roads, and the progression of deeds and measurements for the surrounding property.
The packet also included the findings of a title search on the property that showed at least one error in the deed transfers, which made some later transfers invalid, too. Complicating the matter, the deeds give no measurements for the cemetery boundaries.
Both genealogical members and trustees agreed in the ensuing discussion that it was not the fault of the current owner of the surrounding farmland, Dale Schmitmeyer, who they say did not know of any deed error.
Schmitmeyer most recently did not plant in the grassy area that the genealogy members think is part of the cemetery. The current deed shows that grassy area as Schmitmeyer's land, and genealogical members believe that deed is invalid.
Members are looking to have the correct property lines established to prevent any future planting in what they think is cemetery land.
The group members were grateful that Schmitmeyer did not plant in the grassy area during the last planting.
Schmitmeyer was called during the Monday night meeting by Butler Township Trustee Fred Kahlig and asked if he wanted to come and talk about the issue then - it was almost 9 p.m. - but he declined for the moment.
Brandon's report said they believe the grassed area should remain undisturbed because they believe bodies are buried there. Also, a metal detector picked up what they believe are the posts of a wrought iron fence removed years ago about every 5 feet on the north side of the cemetery, which they think is the original property line.
In the packet also were statements from Ralph and John Shively saying their family is buried in the front row on the north side of the cemetery.
Prosecuting Attorney Andy Hinders told the group that this (a dispute or lack of information on cemetery boundaries) happens all the time. He said the land usually is part of church property. When the church moves, the cemetery remains but true boundaries are hard to pin down.
He suggested the group and the trustees go to Schmitmeyer and try to reach some kind of accommodation with him.
He reminded Brandon and others of another similar cemetery dispute in Washington Township, which eventually was worked out - taking a little bit of land here and adding a little there.
He advised the trustees and the genealogy members to try to work it out.
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