Forgotten Bodel Cemetery Keeps Its Long-Held Secrets During Investigation
Members of the Stryker Area Heritage Council and Williams County Genealogical Society convened at the Bodel Cemetery northwest of Stryker on October 6, 2007 to see if they could literally unearth new information at the abandoned “city of the dead.”
To see a TV-26 program all about the cemetery investigation go to www.tv26.net and click on the Williams County programs!
The impetus for the investigation was an account of the nearly-forgotten cemetery written by local historian Richard L. Cooley that appeared in the Summer 2007 issue of the SAHC’s Bean Creek Chronicle. In his article, Cooley recommended “an organized archeological ‘dig’ to seek buried gravestones,” noting that “such a project would be of great community service and also help preserve local history.”
As fate would have it, the Bodel Cemetery is located on the family farm of SAHC members Kenneth and Kent Juillard, who consented to the invasion of what now serves as pastureland for their cattle.
The graveyard is located on a shady knoll on the south side of County Road H, west of County Road 19.50, next to Leatherwood Creek.
There is very little in the way of recorded information on the cemetery. Williams County deed records reveal Robert Bodel received a land patent deed for 178.29 acres in the Northwest quarter of Section 31S in Brady Township from the United States government on March 15, 1837.
Title to 175.29 acres of the land passed to Alex Bodel by administrator’s deed on November 8, 1847.
On September 6, 1858, Alexander Bodel deeded the Brady Township trustees one acre, “for a place of burial for the dead.” Tombstone inscriptions list death dates in the 1840s and 1850s, so it’s likely the site was used for burials by local pioneers before it was officially deeded to the township for this purpose.
On April 1, 1872, Alexander Bodel sold Peter Juillard the 175-acre parcel—excepting 70 square rods occupied by the cemetery. The farm has remained in the Juillard family ever since.
T. E. Doughten provided an oral history account of the cemetery in the Williams County Genealogical Society’s 1993 Brady Township cemetery records book. Doughten noted, “Almost all of the graves are unmarked today, but my late grandmother, Mrs. Sheldon Garfield Doughten (nee Ella Eliza Hamet 1878-1980), who grew up on the Hamet farm just down the road from the cemetery, has told me many times that there were (are) between 75 and 100 people buried there, most of the graves being marked with just wooden crosses.”
When Mr. Doughten and Kermit Hillard visited the Bodel cemetery (probably in the 1960s), they recorded two small gravestones marked “Snow children;” a marker for Samuel Snow, who died March 4, 1847; a stone for Elizabeth (Warren) McEntire, who died March 25, 1863; and two infant children of J. and C. Kunkle, who passed away on July 12, 1855.
When late historian Paul Van Gundy visited the cemetery in 1974, only the tombstone of Elizabeth McEntire remained. The other markers that once graced the cemetery were removed by unknown persons at unknown times for unknown reasons.
To assist with the investigation, Kent Juillard marked off the cemetery in approximately 20-foot square areas using lime.
About 15 volunteers gathered at the cemetery on Saturday morning, October 6, equipped with tile probes, shovels, cameras and notebooks.
Upon arrival, a quick survey revealed the headstone of Elizabeth McEntire, wife of J. M. McEntire—who died March 25, 1863, at the age of 41—lying broken and scattered in three pieces. This stone was pieced together on the ground, photographed and inscription information recorded.
Participants systematically worked their way through the cemetery grids, probing for buried tombstones; however, none were discovered during the investigation.
Two additional stones previously removed from the cemetery (Two infant children of J. and C. Kunkle, who died July 12, 1855; and Harvey Snow, two-year-old son of W. H. and C. M. Snow, who died August 11, 1855) and stored at the Juillard residence, were returned to the cemetery, photographed and inscription information recorded.
Bill Priest recorded interviews with 92-year-old Kenneth Juillard and Kent Juillard to preserve their memories of the cemetery.
A lingering question is why the Bodel Cemetery has been abandoned for both additional burials and the regular maintenance afforded other Brady Township cemeteries.
The SAHC in interested in setting and preserving the remaining stones in the cemetery in some manner. Kent Juillard plans to contact the Brady Township trustees for their input on a possible project.
The SAHC extends its gratitude to the Village of Stryker and Stryker Welding for use of tile probes, to all of the volunteers who assisted with the investigation and a special thanks to Kenneth and Kent Juillard for allowing the investigation to be conducted.
Holiday Happenings Event Featured Stryker-Made Toys
Stryker’s annual community Holiday Happenings event November 26, 2007 had an historic “Made in Stryker” flavor this year. Through the courtesy of the Ohio Art Company, the Stryker Area Heritage Council presented a special holiday display at the Stryker depot featuring toys manufactured at the former Strydel/Emenee plant. Pictured here are Sue Buehrer, Kent Julliard and Chuck McCall showing some of the toys that were displayed. These toys surely brought back memories for many area residents.
Along with the toy display, the Top of Ohio Dulcimer Friends performed a selection of hymns, traditional songs and holiday music on mountain dulcimers in the depot during the night. The Stryker High School Chorus also provided a concert of favorite Christmas carols.
Those who peered in the former ticket office of the depot found a real treat: Chuck McCall had set up an “O” gauge railroad train set and it was winding its way through a couple of small towns in the loop.
The depot was beautifully decorated with special displays by SawPaw floral store and the Green Awning Gallery. SAHC members also brought in some decorations and there was also a display of Stryker history. A table filled with cookies and punch topped off the night for the visitors
To learn more about the Ohio Art toys made in Stryker, click here to visit our Virtual Museum display
Genealogy Basics Shared at November 3 Workshop
Genealogical novices attending the Stryker Area Heritage Council’s November 3 “Beginning Genealogy” workshop received practical introductory training in researching their family histories and left the session well armed with materials to immediately begin the process.
The workshop, cosponsored by the Defiance County Genealogical Society, was held at the Evansport United Methodist Church and attracted 21 participants. Attendees received packets filled with valuable resources to get them started, including research guides, forms to organize and document data such as wills, land transfers, military, school and cemetery records; five-generation charts; a glossary of genealogy terms; and a list of useful Internet resources.
The session was conducted by seasoned genealogists including Mary Williams, who provided tips on getting started; Lavina Boesling, who walked participants through various records available at county courthouses, and Cecelia Brown, who offered assistance completing the forms and one on one help with participants’ questions.
Attendees were able look through helpful printed materials that can be found at local libraries including county history books, county atlases and directories, high school annuals, cemetery and census records, and church directories.
The SAHC expresses its gratitude to the Defiance County Genealogical Society for cosponsoring this event and to the Evansport United Methodist church for hosting the workshop.
Did you see our display at the 2009 Williams Co. Fair?
Stryker High School Seniors Olivia Jaggers (left) and Ali Justice look over the Stryker Area Heritage Council display that was at the 2009 Williams County Fair.
The display was in the Gillette Building, in a section reserved for antiques and collectibles.
Several cases were filled with photos, advertising keepsakes and other memorabilia about the Stryker area, including an original Stryker Beez’s Hi Speed baseball uniform!
Helen Bell gave the group a number of items to display that either belonged to Harry Wickey or were about him. The photo to the right shows Harry Wickey’s book and some photos and prints of the Stryker native’s art work.
Below you will see Olivia and Ali resting along the wall with a giant photo of “The General,” the locomotive stolen by Andrews Raiders including William Knight from Stryker. There was also a vintage map of Stryker, a table full of SAHC historical brochures and membership brochures And that baseball uniform we were telling you about!
Many thanks to Sue and Ben Buehrer, who did most of the work putting the display together, any of the members who took time to man the display at the fair, and anyone else who helped to make the display such a big and interesting one!