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Lake County Genealogical Society (Ohio)

Introduction to the Lake County Cemetery Inscriptions Project

The last time all the cemeteries inscriptions in Lake County had been published was in the 1920s, a project of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR.) That book has been the basis for genealogcial research until 1990 when The Lake County Genealogical Society began a project of enumerating Riverside Cemetery in Painesville. The project entailed combining cemetery records with the readings of the gravestones. This cemetery was selected because, being newer, it had never been read.

In 1998 the Society decided to enumerate the entire county's cemeteries. The scope of the project was narrowed to only the inscriptions, and it was decided to do the project by the old 5 mile square townships, similar to the 1840 maps. The Lake County Ohio Cemetery Map Locator Guide was completed in 1999 as a guide for finding the over 100 cemeteries in the county. (This book is available for purchase from the Society.) Members began reading the stones in 1998. Typing began in 1999 and proofreading began in 2000. The townships were mostly done in alphabetical order, beginning with Concord and progressing through Kirtland, Leroy, Madison, Mentor, Painesville, Perry, and Willoughby

Details and Decisions for the Project
After deciding to do the project, a map for each cemetery was obtained or roughly drawn. It was then decided how to read each section. Stones would be read in rows that appeared to be rows, and stones numbered consecutively regardless of grave numbers assigned by the cemetery. Any unmarked graves are not usually noted. Should new stones be added, the numbers would have to be reassigned. Some of the rows are rather creative to take in lots facing a different direction from the majority. Other sections have rows along the side to accommodate this irregularity. A mid-lot monument would be numbered as though it were in one or the other of the two rows. If there was a second burial in one grave, both stones got a number. If a second marker for the same person was noted, such as a military marker or foot stone, these were not numbered separately. In the case of multiple persons on one stone, only one number per stone was assigned. In most cases where there was a family monument, some notation was made to refer to the individual headstone or vice-versa.

All inscription text including poetry, lot number on the stone and stone cutter, was recorded exactly as it appeared with a slash (/) indicating the ends of the lines. In the case of a double monument side by side, for clarity, the common text at the top was followed by the individual persons' information as though they were top to bottom rather than side by side. Due to some inconsistency in reading, upper and lower cases were ignored.

All symbols and art work were listed or described in the symbols column and condition of stone and unusual color, shape, location, and stone composition for the section were noted as remarks. This was somewhat subjective. For example, if there are a lot of grey and pink stones in a section, a pink monument was not noted. However, a dark red one, which was distinctive, would be noted. This was to aid in location.

Both maiden names and middle names of either males or females (if they sounded like surnames) have been included as "alternate surname entries". This was subjective, and some may have been missed. These entries start with the possible alternate surname, followed by given name(s), ending with the known surname in square brackets. Thus,
     Smith, Mary Jones      and
     Jones, Mary [Smith]     (Note square brackets)
both refer to Mary Jones Smith. Any entry ending with a surname in brackets is an alternate surname entry.

All of the readings were then typed into a spreadsheet which was then printed to take to the cemetery for proofing. Each stone was checked for accuracy. Punctuation was corrected. Anything that was missed, including new stones, was added. Flag holders were added if they had been displayed at the time of proofreading.

The histories of the cemeteries were written from deeds, township and village records, newspaper articles and/or knowledge of local residents. These are not all scholarly works, and in many cases there was no official information available.

Maps were obtained from the cemetery sexton where possible. Where these were unavailable, the maps done by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in about 1940 were used as a base and altered as necessary. In some cases where no map was available, one was drawn. At least one of the maps for each cemetery indicates the direction the rows were read. Other maps, especially the section maps will be available in the printed version only.

Throughout the reading, typing, and proofreading processes, the readings from the 1920s were consulted. In the case of illegible stones, or the few stones that are missing or buried or crumbled, the old readings were used. These are usually noted. Where it was unclear where the missing stone was located within a section, a row X was created. If the section was not clear from the old readings, a section labeled "X" was created at the end of the readings for that cemetery.

As with any index, transcription, or abstraction, human errors can be made. It is always recommended that the original stone be consulted.

Many people helped with this project. Members of the Lake County Genealogical Society did the reading of the stones, the typing, and the proofreading. There were many, many hours required to complete this monumental task. To those who helped, a sincere thank you.

Our thanks go to our "home base," Morley Library and its staff members for research assistance, use of many resources, copying, finding meeting spaces and arranging drop-off-pick-up assistance for our workers. We appreciate their continued support of our endeavors. A special thank you to Sally Malone, staff genealogist for her frequent help.

This project was made much easier by the friendly assistance of the cemetery sextons all over the county. They made records available, provided maps, and helped with histories.

We sincerely thank all those property owners who allowed us to read their privately owned gravestones. Thanks also to those who reported gravestones in known and unknown places.

Historical Societies, especially the Lake County Historical Society, were also helpful in finding information, locating cemeteries, and referring lost or forgotten cemetery reports.

A thank you to Richard T. De Van of Willoughby for assistance in identifying some stone types.

And kudos to Herbert Turk for all the computer work to get this project on-line, build the index, and recreate the maps. In addition, he completely supported his wife, the project manager.

Lake County Genealogical Society,
A Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society
Cynthia Turk, Project Manager
Copyright 2001

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