PLAIN TWP. — In a small field dotted with headstones, Plain Township is combining past, present and future.
Eby Cemetery, also called Mount Pleasent/Pleasant (the spelling varies) or Plain Township Cemetery, is the resting place of some of the areas first families. Headstones with names like Eby and Grise date back to the 1800s.
Plain isn’t letting the cemetery on Eby Drive NE stay in the history books. In recent years, the township has worked to upgrade the field and preserve it for the future.
“This is where I want to be buried. I’ve told my whole family that when the time comes,” administrator Lisa Campbell said. “Because I’ve put so much time and love into this cemetery, it’s absolutely where I want to be buried.”
The township has owned the cemetery since October 1911.
According to the Plain Township Historical Society, the cemetery started as a small graveyard serving families around the area of Columbus Road NE. It then became part of the Church of the Brethren, which purchase the land from the Eby and Grise families in the 1880s.
In September 1910, the area was hit by a strong windstorm that toppled the church, the foundation of which is still buried in the cemetery.
Unable to rebuild or maintain the cemetery, the congregation gave it to the township trustees a year later. Plain has taken care of the cemetery since.
About 2,400 township cemeteries exist in Ohio, Campbell said.
Under state law, townships are required to maintain their cemeteries. And if a private cemetery were to close, the township would be required to take it over.
The Ohio Township Association holds classes on running cemeteries — with topics like opening and closing vaults or selling lots — to keep townships up-to-date, she said.
Plain isn’t content doing the bare minimum, Campbell said.
The cemetery is required by law to be mowed twice a year, but the Parks Department does regular upkeep and landscaping.
“We take such amazing care of it. And we’re restoring the history. It’s one of my passions in the township,” she said.
Some of the older headstones have deteriorated. They’ve fallen over or their text is no longer legible.
Using historical records, Plain has placed new flat headstones in front of the older ones. The new headstones preserve that information and let folks know who’s buried there.
They started the project last year and plan to do six additional markers this year, Campbell said.
Plain uses the cemetery for indigent burials. They recently buried a woman who died without any family, Campbell said, recalling how she sat with the woman in her final days so she wouldn’t be alone.
The graves are marked with flat headstones. Campbell said she tries to get the deceased and their families, so the headstones can be personalized. One, for example, has the etching of a necktie. Others are etched with crosses.
“Even though these people don’t have money, they deserve a dignified burial. And that’s what the township does,” she said.
It’s also open for anyone who wishes to be buried there.
The township sells one or two lots every year, Campbell said.
Plain recently updated its website, www.plaintownship.com/cemetery.aspx, to include regulations and prices.
Those fees include:
• $975 per lot for residents. The cost for second right of interment is equal to a lot price and 1/2 of a lot.n
• $1,500 per lot for non-residents. The cost for second right of interment is equal to a lot price and 1/2 of a lot.
• $750 to dig and fill a plot.
• $500 foundation fee.
• $200 additional fee Saturday burial before 1 p.m. and $300 additional fee on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m.
The fees go back into the cemetery fund for future upkeep, she said.
The township also can accommodate family’s burial plans. And the fire chaplain has performed ceremonies for past graveside funerals.
Last week, the township finished work on a memory garden.
The small garden was funded with a gift from a family who recently buried their mother in the cemetery. The family’s father was buried there years earlier, and the family’s history dates back to the early days of the township, Campbell said.
“Even though you see some very old monuments, it’s the history that brings families back, even today, to bury their relatives,” she said.
Reach Jessica at 330-580-8322 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @jholbrookREP.