Scattered Bones: Uncovering Long-lost Defiance Gravesites

In addition to those highlighted on our Self-guided Riverside Cemetery Walk, two other burial grounds have been unearthed in Defiance, both by accident!

On March 26, 1910, the Defiance Democrat reported that while digging to build a new home on Front Street (now Fort Street) a burial ground was discovered. This would be between Fort Street and the Maumee River, roughly where the Defiance Public Library parking lot sits today. They discovered the bones of some 25 to 40 persons. There were no records of it in 1910, thus these were believed to be some of the earliest pioneers in the area. One was that of a woman, and the description given stated that “in one of the graves, was found a woman; to the skull was still adhering the hair, and though the body must have lain there nearly a hundred years, this hair was seemingly the same as when the body had been committed to the earth. This hair was long, black and silky; it has been braided into a single strand and was beautifully coiled several times around the head. Below this hair was only the whitened skull and a few scattered bones to represent the former occupant of the grave.” It was believed that this was the first burial ground used by settlers here, probably at a time not long after the departure of the soldiers from the two forts here and probably dating back to the very earliest days of the town of Defiance.

Also according to the same article in the Defiance Democrat, dated March 26, 1910:

“During these early years, on the bank of the Auglaize, between the river and the fort; and further up along the bank, by its crumbling away caused by the river and the elements, I have known graves to be uncovered; graves made doubtless before General Wayne and his troops had erected Fort Defiance. These were known to be Indian graves because in them were found pipes, tomahawks and other articles which it was known to be the custom of the Indians to place in the graves of their dead when buried.”

Like eerie local history like this? Then make sure to print a copy of our Self-Guided Riverside Cemetery Walk and head to the cemetery for a spooky (but educational!) good time!

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