GREENWOOD TOWNSHIP —
Leads from local residents brought the Halls to Geneva resident and landowner Jim Hafer, who said his family owned the surrounding fields for at least a century. While many details have been lost to the recesses of time, Hafer confirmed their suspicions when he granted them access to the grounds.
“The only thing I know is what my father told me,” Hafer said. “At one time, the stones were picked up and laid down to make a sidewalk. The community went after the individual who did that, and then the stones were brought back and thrown every which way.”
Hafer indicated that no one maintained the cemetery over the years and very few recognized its existence.
“Veterans used to put two or three flags out there, but they haven’t for the past few years,” Hafer said. “They just stopped. I don’t know why.”
“I think it’s a shame,” Carl Hall said. “My hope is to get other organizations involved; get some ground penetration and see how many stones are actually here.”
While the larger and more legible stones were found only a few inches below the soil, Hall believes there might be more to find underneath the top layer, although a more thorough excavation would prove costly and time-consuming.
No one’s in danger of digging up bodies at this point, Brubaker said.
Carl Hall and Brubaker don’t believe Old Geneva Cemetery is especially large, but they haven’t expanded their search as much as they would like.
“I’m about at my end; I can’t do much more,” Carl Hall said. “I’m hoping someone will come and clean (the cemetery) up a bit.”
More realistic plans include looking into headstone repair and a roadsign indicating the gravesite’s location.
“I’d like to see if the county or the state would put up a memorial sign or something that people can see from the road,” Carl Hall said.
Brubaker plans to contact veteran service organizations or monument companies to see if they can replace some of the headstones.
In the meantime, she’s been putting together a book containing every piece of known information about Old Geneva Cemetery available between her and Carl Hall’s research.
She hopes to give a finished copy to other historical societies as well as any living descendants of Geneva’s founders.
“These were the first settlers,” Brubaker said. “Without them, we wouldn’t have what we have today.”
Konstantine Fekos can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.