Informal Burials in the Dayton Cemetery

champaign-albert-john tombstone

Handmade memorial stone for a child

In the early years of the Dayton Cemetery, many of the burials must have been informal – that is, not handled by an undertaker. The primary source of this information comes from the death certificate, where available. The earliest burial with a death certificate was in 1878, so clearly, for those burials between 1835 and 1878, we have no way of knowing who performed the burial. However, even for those burials after 1878, some were done informally.

William Hoag’s 1879 death certificate leaves the undertaker field blank.¬†Frank Hudson was buried by A Trumbo in 1881. Burials in 1888 and 1902 either specify “unknown” for the undertaker or leave the field blank. Three others specify a single name, with no indication whether they were undertakers or private citizens. As recently as 1922, at least one infant burial was performed without the services of an undertaker.

In an analysis of the 113 death records found for burials in the cemetery, the majority were handles by the Zimmerman/Gladfelter Funeral Home (54 instances). This furniture and undertaking establishment was founded in 1862 by Simon Zimmerman and has been in continuous operation ever since. In 1886, Elmer E. Gladfelter married Zimmerman’s daughter Anna, and in 1889 assumed charge of the business. The business retained the Zimmerman name until his death in 1894, and has operated under the Gladfelter name to the present day.

There are 44 known burials that had no visible stone in 2015, when the most recent restoration was done. There are some pieces of broken stones, too fragmentary to be reassembled, in the woods at the edge of the cemetery, though a few had been recorded before they were damaged.

 

Jesse and David scrape out the millrace

oxen

In this excerpt from Jesse Green’s memoir, he shows that on the frontier, a ten year old and a twelve year old were doing a man’s work.

Early in the spring of 1830 development of the water power was commenced by using the stumps from the timber from which the mill was being constructed. Economy was sought to a greater extent than it is at the present tine. The saw mill was built with sufficient room to put a pair of stones in one end of it to do our grinding until a better mill could be erected, having brought with us the necessary mill irons, black-smith tools etc. Whilst the men were getting out the timber for the mill and dam, which had to be built to intersect a small island, brother David and myself took the contract of scraping out the race or waterway for a distance of about a half mile (he being ten, and I twelve years old). We each had a pair of oxen and an old fashioned scraper. I sometimes had to help him load and dump his scraper and vice versa. We had the race completed by the time the mills were ready to draw their gates.