S.O.M. Center Cemetery (Willoughby Centre - Willoughby Ridge) (technically active but currently closed)
This quaint little cemetery is located on the east side of S.O.M. Center Road in Willoughby Hills, nestled between the BP gas station and the Interstate 90 exit. It barely escaped extinction when the interstate went through. It has a new wrought iron fence, a part of Willoughby Hills cemetery restoration project for the Ohio Bicentennial. It is on a hill, sloping down to a ravine.
A common history for cemeteries in Lake County would be that it was on private property, and other families were invited to use the burying grounds as well. The families maintained their own family graves. When the families were no longer caring for all the graves, an association was usually formed to ensure care of the area. Eventually the land was deeded to the association, and later from the association (often when it was out of money for caring for the cemetery) to the township. In this case, the property was owned in 1840 by Hezekiah Ferguson and remained in the Ferguson family in 1857. There was a Willoughby Centre Cemetery Association, and the following is a transcription of the organization of that association as in the Meetings Book page 34 and 35 at the recorder's office, in the archives in Painesville.
At a meeting of Citizens resident in the vicinity of Willoughby Centre Lake Co. and State of Ohio, after due notice the following proceedings were had April 30th 1867.On 27 September 1867 John F. Ferguson and Amy A., his wife deeded the 93/100 acre cemetery to the Willoughby Centre Cemetery Association for $50.00. It was recorded in Volume Y, page 426.
The earliest burial, based on stone death dates seems to be Julia Ferguson, wife of Finley, who died April 7, 1832. The most recent death date on a stone is that of Alice P. Atkinson, 1894-1985. This was likely the last burial.
Since there are no available accurate records of the burials, the city of Willoughby Hills has ceased burials in this cemetery until some unused areas can be determined. Some records of this cemetery are said to be at the Little Red Schoolhouse on Shankland Road in Willoughby. There is a lot owner map from 1934.
In the book Willoughby Schools, the First One Hundred Years by Eleanor Rolfe, there is a copy of a Willoughby Center Cemetery Association deed for the lot sold to O. Gould 11 Oct. 1875, signed by W.T. Atkinson, Treasurer. (This courtesy of Robert Gould.)
Although the 1934 map shows two sections, there seemed to be some division into three sections plus a small strip on the north of the drive. All rows were read from west to east, and the stones from north to south. The readings were proofed as of 9 Oct 2001.
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