Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Near the Old Graveyard


Richland Chapel was the name of the first Methodist church built in Fairfield County, Ohio. From a description in an old local history book, the chapel was said to have been a log cabin built "near the old graveyard." Among the church's first members appeared the surnames of collateral lines descending from my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandmother, Elizabeth Howard, wife of William Ijams.

Right now, as I take a hiatus from the search for all Elizabeth's matrilineal descendants, a detour to examine the history of this county's earliest church may be helpful. As it turns out, that "old graveyard" near the chapel is a place I've written about before. Known by some as the Stevenson Cemetery, by others as the Ruffner Cemetery or the Campground Cemetery, it was an old burial ground where the now-half-sunken headstone for William Ijams rests. 

A more recent cemetery sign—at least, according to Find A Grave resources—identifies the location as the Stevenson Ruffner Cemetery. Through chatty weekend "Nature Notes" over the years by Lancaster Eagle-Gazette columnist Charles Goslin, we can glean some of the history of the place. His May 6, 1961, article takes us on a Sunday afternoon drive along "Snake Run," stopping in at the cemetery to learn a bit about the history of the area.

On or near that same property, not long after 1800, a man named Daniel Stevenson settled, along with his brothers. Daniel was said to have been a "soldier of the Revolution"—though D.A.R. can find no service records and admits earlier membership applications may have mistaken him for another soldier entirely—and received a land grant to settle in Fairfield County in 1806. Columnist Charles Goslin mentioned that the area became known as the "Stevenson Settlement" after this early settler.

How well-integrated the Ijams household became within that Stevenson Settlement, the church meetings held on that property, and even the burial of Elizabeth's husband there, can be gleaned by comparing names in hundred-year-old history books with the intermarriages of the Ijams daughters. As we've already seen, though daughter Rachel's husband James Turner has not been specifically mentioned, history reports we've already covered did mention others of that surname in the congregation. Younger Ijams daughter Comfort married Edward Stevenson, and although I have yet to document his father's identity, the surname does resonate. Daughter Sarah, of my mother-in-law's direct line, married John Jay Jackson, mentioned in yesterday's post. And William and Elizabeth's son William married a daughter of the Ruffner family. All these marriages handily demonstrate the intertwined community whose legacy became the now-deserted cemetery called by many names where our Ijams ancestors once lived, worshipped and, eventually, were buried. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...