Honoring & Protecting Worthington Cemetery

Why are historic markers important? The Ohio History Connection gives this simple explanation, “Partnering with community sponsors, these markers help tell the unique stories of the people, places, things and events that helped shape individual communities, as well as Ohio and our nation.”

A cemetery is a necessary part of a community. When Worthington Cemetery was in use, it was taken for granted that the souls laid to rest there would be remembered. People felt comfort in knowing that their loved ones were with other community members at a place of significance. This is of equal importance to Riverside Cemetery in Defiance, and all other cemeteries in the county. The difference is that once families stopped using the cemetery and most moved out of the rural area of Highland Township to larger cities for jobs and opportunity, the hallowed ground was not protected as such.

The names of those in Worthington Cemetery are not known, because the markers are no longer anywhere near the cemetery. We can look at Census records from those years for those who lived in that area of Highland Township and died during that time for possible names. There are articles from that period in the various Defiance newspapers that tell of a person’s passing and where they were buried, but we have not come across any that specifically say they were buried in Worthington Cemetery.

There is a small hill at the back of Riverside Cemetery that has two rows of exceedingly small markers, 8 square inches. They are shaded by a willow with the river in the background. Some have dates and names on them. In speaking with the cemetery sexton, we were informed that this area is for those who do not have family in the area, or anyone else who claimed their body after they passed. It is Potter’s Field. Not all of these spaces have been used yet, and one in particular draws attention—not even the name of the person is known, it simply says, “Known only to God.” There was a time when the cemetery did not have to mark the graves of indigent people who passed and were buried in Potter’s Field. Currently in Ohio, there needs to be an 8-inch marker for each person. That area of the cemetery is mowed and taken care of in the same way as those with large tombstones, monuments, and angels.

Worthington Cemetery will have an Ohio Historical Marker at the edge of the field near Bowman Road. Between now and November, the Ohio History Connection will contact us, and we will work together on the information that will appear on both sides of the marker. After that is determined, it will take a few months to create it. We expect it to be completed in the first part of 2025. There will be a ceremony to dedicate the marker when it is placed on Bowman Road. All are welcome to attend. The other historic markers in Defiance County can be found here.

Join the ongoing effort to preserve & support Worthington Cemetery

A group of Defiance County citizens have met and are forming the Friends and Family of the Worthington Cemetery. The group will apply for a 501(3)(c) to be a charitable organization representing the Worthington Cemetery. There is more that can be done to remember, honor and protect the cemetery.

This group is open to the public, and anyone who would like to get involved can contact Jay Budde at [email protected].

1 thought on “Honoring & Protecting Worthington Cemetery”

  1. Virginia Sterling

    Thank you and the Defiance Public Library for all of the time and effort that you have put into this project.

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