George Davis

GREEN: The almost 200-year-old first official cemetery in Green Township, now the city of Green, became a classroom this weekend.

To help preserve the community’s heritage, 38 Green High School science students are putting their learning skills to the test.

Known as the historic Klinefelter Family Cemetery, the obscure cemetery dating back to circa 1820 is located at the southeast corner of South Arlington and East Nimisila roads on a 1-acre plot just north of Koons Road in a quiet residential neighborhood.

Mayor Gerard Neugebauer, who was at the site on Saturday along with Green Schools Superintendent Jeffrey L. Miller II and other school and city officials, is hoping the city will be able to erect a wrought-iron fence to preserve the cemetery.

That hinges on whether the students and University of Akron archaeology professor Dr. Timothy Matney are able to determine where the gravesites are so none will be destroyed if the fence is installed.

Surveying began at 9 a.m. Saturday and is to resume at the same time Sunday.

Drivers on Arlington Road were alerted by electronic signs that the survey was underway and were urged to drive cautiously in that area.

The site is private and not open to the public.

The land was part of a farm owned by the late Conrad Dillman, who designated the site as a private cemetery for burial of Dillman family members, indigents who didn’t own property and the family of the Rev. Adam Klinefelter, who founded the Evangelical Seminary in Green Township and was a circuit-riding evangelical covering a 400-mile territory, according to historians.

A Revolutionary War veteran known to the Dillmans as “Father Hendricks,” according to Green Historical Society secretary Staci Schweikert, is believed to be buried there under a piece of sandstone inscribed with the initials “K.H.”

As of midday Saturday, students searching for burial markers had found over two dozen markers just under the soil but not the K.H. stone.

Building on clues

Historical society members at the scene said a 1939 Works Progress Administration site map provided to the society by a friend showed nine rows of plots from just off Arlington Road going east.

Schweikert said the group isn’t sure how many people are buried there.

Matney, who is in his 19th year of teaching at UA, explained that the students’ surface survey work will be layered with aerial photos taken by archeologist Jarrod Lancaster.

A third layer will be added when an electric resistance meter is to be used Sunday to create an underground electrical field, which will map the cemetery underground through the flow of electricity and be bundled with the other two layers to hopefully pinpoint the cemetery’s boundaries.

Green High School science teacher John Berry said he “couldn’t resist” getting involved with 38 students from his three AP science classes.

Hands-on learning

“I like to get the kids out to have a real hands-on experience,” Berry said. “They are never going to remember my lecture, but they will remember this. Every time they drive by here they will remember what it was like.

“And we are doing something positive in the community, integrating the city, the schools and science and technology.”

Junior Drake Nicely said, “It’s definitely a new experience, and I’m learning a lot.”

Senior Rachel Watson, who plans to study nursing after graduation, agreed.

“It’s a new experience for sure,” Watson said. “I didn’t even know this was here before today.”

Team leader Ian Fuller, a junior, said: “I don’t mind working in the cemetery. I think it’s a good thing to do for the people who are buried here. And it’s the right thing to do for people who didn’t know this was here.”

Tape measurer Nick McCausland, also a junior, said the work is “kind of fascinating”

“We had to volunteer to do it as an optional assignment,” he said. “It was much better coming out and doing it physically than doing a report.”

Junior Jessica Shell said she lives near the cemetery and had gone to the property with her family a couple times and looked at the gravestones.

When her teacher asked for volunteers for the cemetery project, “I knew exactly where it was at and thought, ‘This is going to be sweet. I’m going to learn the history about it,’?” she said.

Schweikert said the cemetery is one of only three official cemeteries in Green, “and it needs to be preserved. I’m so happy the mayor initiated this and is working to get this accomplished.”

Historical society members worked through Thursday’s rain to clean up the cemetery that was full of debris and litter with the aid of city seasonal workers and trucks.

“I’d rather work in that rain at 50 degrees than in Friday’s 2-inch snowfall and cold,” she said.

George W. Davis can be reached at: mediaman@sssnet.com