Cemetery to host history tour

If you are interested in history, nature, walking, pleasant weather and a free luncheon, then Mt. Moriah Cemetery has an offer you can’t refuse.

Their first ever “autumn adventure” and second annual history tour is scheduled for Sept. 30, and based on how well the first tour went, you can expect to spend a lot of time socializing with friends, families and new acquaintances.

“Last year was the first time we did a summer stroll, and it was about 45 minutes long,” said Mt. Moriah Cemetery Sexton Shawn Hartness. “We couldn’t believe the turnout, we had over 250 people show up. He did such an outstanding job on last year’s walk, we wanted to do it again. It was 96 degrees that day, so we wanted to do it in the fall so there was nicer weather. People loved it, we had a lot of positive feedback.”

Last year, Union Township decided to celebrate the cemetery and introduce a number of improvements made at the facility to the public by hosting a public history walk. The tour, led by local historian and Mt. Moriah expert Stanley Wilfert, turned out to be a lot more popular than was expected.

In part due to the high temperatures and high turnout, the walk was shortened, but plans are being made this year to run the tour with participants in mind.

The weather is hoped to be nicer for the autumn walk and vehicles will be on hand to help ferry participants who may have trouble walking or standing the entire two hours of the 10 a.m. to noon tour. A free lunch will be served after the tour concludes.

Wilfert, who will be leading the tour, will introduce participants to some of the cemetery’s oldest and most interested residents. Accompanied by Clermont County Historian Richard Crawford, who will add his own knowledge of historical significance to the tour, as well as recount a few ghost stories surrounding the cemetery, Wilfert will discuss people such as a former congressman buried in the cemetery, a revolutionary war veteran buried in the cemetery and a civil war veteran buried in the cemetery.

“I’ve lived here all my life and I have a great many relatives buried here,” said Wilfert. “I’ve always been here, all my life, and I’ve always had a great interest in the cemetery. A few years ago, I was asked if I would like to lead a tour. I agreed and it worked out nice. I will point out many of the interesting people who are buried here. We’ll have Rick Crawford with us to tell us the history of things, and we’ll have a young man accompany us as a trumpeter, Daniel Heflin.”

Wilfert said that he grew up near the cemetery, and came to know it even better as more of his family was buried in that piece of land.

“I have so many relations buried there, it’s almost like a homeplace,” said Wilfert. “We owned 150 acres behind it, and when I came home I walked behind it, so it’s a place I’ve always known. I’m always interested in local history, so they asked me to do the tour, and it worked out so well last year, we decided to do it again.”

Originally a family burial ground owned by the Withams, who founded the nearby Withamsville, the plot gradually grew to 50 acres, which is now the only township cemetery in Union Township.

Recently, two gazebos were added to the cemetery, as well as other amenities, such as a pond, a mediation area, a scattering garden, signage and maps, renovations to the chapel and numerous landscaping projects.

“Really, the cemetery is moving more towards being more than a cemetery, more like a park,” said Hartness. “We have more and more people walking through the cemetery, which is nice. It should be used, it’s one of the most beautiful areas of green space in the township. Most people don’t even know the cemetery is back here, and this history walk helps people learn about it.”

There is no cost to the walk. For more information, call (513) 752-1773. Parking will be in the Mt. Moriah United Methodist Church.