Thursday, January 22, 2009

Info on Skeleton Park from a reader



How did this cemetery become "one of the most desolate spots in the Ohio Valley"? A reader sent me some great info about Skeleton Park. Thank you wileyjack. Here is a portion of what was sent to me.
The East Liverpool Daily Crisis May 28, 1901 FORSAKEN DEAD- Names of Those in the Fifth Street Cemetery -Place of Desolate Ruins -The Hand of the Vandal Is Everywhere in Evidence – Regular Loitering- Place forBums – Need of Official Recognition
The old cemetery at the end of Fifth Street is one of the most desolate spots in the Ohio valley, and that is saying a great deal, for the valley is a pretty extensive piece of territory. There are hardly words enough in the English language to adequately picture this graveyard's condition as it exists today. A trip to see it readily convinces one that it is a smirch upon the credit of East Liverpool and a blow at popular intelligence. Much has been written about the unsanitary and unsightly features of this place. Complaints innumerable have been registered against it. In spite of all this it exists and flourishes in worse shape now than ever before. Many bodies have been disinterred and removed elsewhere. In fact this work goes on whenever anybody happens to remember that they have relatives buried there, if they wish them to rest in peace in a fitting place, uncontaminated by the hand of the vandal. Many, however, scarcely ever give a thought to the resting place of their ancestors whose earthly trials and hardships were ended years ago. If they do, there is no effort to lend heed. What matters if that a few human bones, failing to find earth enough to hide their nakedness, go over the hill to bleach and moulder in the sun? What matters it that vandals overrun this place which should be sacred to its dead? What matters it that the fallen make it a place of rendezvous? What matters it that the drunken take themselves there to hold their unholy revels? The dead are dead, they know nothing and care not. A Crisis reporter was delegated Monday afernoon to visit the cemetery and if possible set forth its condition. One's first impression is ruins, ruins, ruins. The small boy of that locality has his favoirte ball grounds there on a clear space where he plays his match games. Tombstones in many instances are flat on the ground and occasionally buried beneath it. Brambles, briars, weeds, trees and grasses grow rich and luxuriant. Some graves are so thickly overgrown that it is simply impossible to get to them. Monuments, also old and time-worn, are defaced by the hand of man, being broken in a few cases so badly that the names and dates are absolutely undecipherable. Great holes in the ground show some have been thoughtful enough to remove their dead to more holy places. Here is a haunt of the intoxicated. As an illustration of the latter statement and to emphasize it: While the reporter was contemplating the sorrowful scene and meditating upon the soul-stirring stories those old gravestones would tell could they only talk, a tall officer of the law made his way down one of the numerous paths running through the place. In a moment he had sent a small boy to "call the patrol." It soon arrived and the officer proceeded to drag two men out of the bushes and stow them in the wagon. They were beastily drunk and had been "sleeping it off." The policmean said: "That's nothing. This is the greatest loafing place for drunks and bum I ever saw. We have to watch it pretty closely." With that the patrol drove away from the home of the dead with its cargo of the semi-dead.A list was taken from the remaining headstones in the cemetery as accurately as possible. This does not include all as many graves bear no headstones, while some could not be made out. It is probable a number of bodies have been removed where the headstones still remain. The list of those who have apparently had no one to look after them includes 134 names. The names are familiar to many. They follow with the year in which death occurred. Among the list is the name of Joseph McKinnon, the first white child born in Northwestern Ohio. He was born in 1750. The names of quite a number of old soldiers also appear in the list.
I also have the list of known people that were buried in Skeleton Park, but I did not print it at this time. I think perhaps the worst thing of all about this cemetery is the story of bodies sliding down the side of the hill after some bad weather that eroded the hillside. I can not even imagine it. I find myself wondering how a cemetery could be right in the middle of town and be neglected to that point.
There are other stories wileyjack sent me and I also plan on sharing them as well, though I am looking to get some pictures to go along with the stories. I am fascinated with this story and hope to find out more. Starting with- What happened to the gravestones from Skeleton Park?
And, are there any ghost stories out there about this area of the city? About the parking lot that is there or about the hospital itself?