Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Posts tagged ‘United States’

Remains of Civil War Veteran Rededicated at Sarahsville, Ohio

Funeral Procession arrives at Village View Cemetery.

Funeral Procession arrives at Village View Cemetery.

Village View Cemetery in Sarahsville, Ohio was the scene of the rededication of the remains of Pvt. Absalom (Abner) Robinson, Civil War veteran.  2013 was the 120th anniversary of Abner’s death and the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s well-known Gettysburg Address.

Robinson brothers arrived ready to help at original burial site.

Robinson brothers arrived ready to help at original burial site.

Actual preparation for the ceremony began earlier in the week when three great-great-grandsons of Pvt. Abner Robinson met on top a hill in East Union with township trustees and the local funeral home. They knew exactly where Abner Robinson had been buried as the tombstone was still on the hill. Seems that in 1893, Abner died after being struck in the eye by a rusty nail while helping with work on a barn. At that time they were not certain of the actual cause of death or what illness might be involved, so decided to bury Abner on top of a far away hill so he wouldn’t spread his possible disease, most likely tetanus, to anyone else.

Hardware from 1893 casket

Hardware from 1893 casket

Knowing the story, the family decided they would like Abner Robinson’s remains to be moved to their family plot. After digging by the tombstone, they found no sign of any remains. But when one of the relatives suggesting digging closer to the cedar tree, they made some exciting discoveries.   Not only did they find the original cedar casket, which was squashed to about eight inches, but inside they found several bones, part of the skull, and teeth. There were also hinges that still worked on the lid as well as other pieces of rusted metal.

The local funeral home, McVay-Perkins of Caldwell, took those body parts found in the 1893 casket, and put them in a pouch to be placed inside the new casket, which was made of cherry wood.

Hearse with Sons of Union Civil War Veterans and Governor Dollison

Hearse with Sons of Union Civil War Veterans and Governor Dollison

When approaching a distinguished gentleman in a top hat before the ceremony, I asked him if he would be so kind as to let me take his picture with the Sons of Union Veterans that were present. His answer surprised me, “You are speaking to Governor Dennison, the 23rd Governor of Ohio. Next thing you know women like you will be asking for the right to vote.” When asked about the Civil War, he freely expressed his opinion, “That was a war of southern rebellion, there was nothing civil about it.”

Two black Perchenon horses prepare for the procession.

Two black Percheron horses prepare for the procession.

The funeral hearse drawn by twin black Percheron horses and provided by Robert Baird of Troy, Ohio, started their route at the Sarahsville Center Free Methodist Church.  What a procession it was! Following the horse-drawn funeral carriage bearing Pvt. Robinson’s cherry casket, members of Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War marched to the cadance of the fife and drum corps. Many descendents of Abner also walked the half mile road to Village View Cemetery in Sarahsville.

Abner Robinson (1836-1893) served as a Private in Company G, 62nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil war. Three of his brother, William, George, and John, were also members of the Union forces.  Abner’s unit saw active service in places such as Shenandoah Valley, Peninsula Campaign, Beaufort, Morris Island and Fair Oaks.

Many speakers participated in the graveside service, which lasted about an hour, before the casket covered with a 34 star flag, which was later given to the family. Family members presented a wreath in honor of all Union soldiers in the Civil War conflict

Governor Dennison rededicated Pvt. Robinson's remains.

Governor Dennison rededicated Pvt. Robinson’s remains.

One of the highlights was the speech by Robert W. Davis, portraying Governor William F Dennison. His main purpose was to rededicate the remains of Abner Robinson to their new resting place. However, Gov. Dennison also portrayed his role during the  Civil War by saying, “I will defend any slaves that come to Ohio with a bayonet.” His boldness was clearly expressed when he exclaimed, “All rebels should be hung.” When President Lincoln told the governor he needed 10,000 men, Gov. Dennison replied that he only had 18,000 men total, but within the week he had over 13,000 men marching into Columbus headquarters ready to fight.  He proclaimed, “We will keep this United States together until our last breath.”

21 gun salute ends the ceremony.

A three round rifle salute ends the ceremony.

The ceremony was brought to an end with a three round rifle salute by the color guard. A traditional fife rendition of Taps and a prayer concluded the events.

Abner’s life must have been a difficult one from his Civil War battles to the farm in McCleary, Ohio (now East Union). When he died, the copy of Probate Court papers declared that his amount of personal property would be about $2.00 and his real estate about $15.00. Have to imagine that the rededication of his remains was more expensive than anything he could possibly have imagined.

This ceremony held extra interest for this Gypsy since Pvt. Abner Robinson was the great-great-grandfather of my cousin’s husband, Jerry Robinson. Jerry is one of those pictured at the original grave site and helped with discovering the remains.

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Shenandoah Crash Recollections with Ed Lehotay

USS Shenandoah airship

USS Shenandoah airship

Step back 88 years to September, 1925 as we visit an observer, Ed Lehotay, a lively 97 years old. He and his family actually saw the giant Shenandoah airship that fateful morning before it crashed in nearby Ava, Ohio.

USS Shenandoah was the first of four US Navy rigid airships built at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey.  It made the first airship crossing of North America at speeds of up to 69 mph.  On its 57th flight, this “strongest airship in the world” was on a publicity tour of Midwestern State Fairs when it was caught in a thunderstorm in the rolling hills of southeastern Ohio.  Surprisingly, 29 of the crew of 43 survived the crash.

Ed Lehotay at 97 years of age

Ed Lehotay at 97 years of age

Nine year old Ed Lehotay recalled September 2 as being a dreary day with the threat of a storm in the air. They had gone to bed about 10:00 that night in their family home on Patton Hollow Road just south of Cambridge. Their house shook in the terrible storm with torrents of rain pouring down. As the lightning flashed and lit up the sky, their father had noticed a large airship pitching back and forth like a bucking horse directly over their house. His father woke the whole family at 4:00 in the morning on September 3, 1925. The children’s eyes were wide with wonder at the huge airship over their house being lit up by the lightning.

The Shenandoah moved slowly just over the rooftop. Their family was shocked to see the 680′ long airship with a diameter of nearly 80′ so close, rolling from side to side. That’s as long as two and a half football fields!  When the sound of the roaring engines combined with the rolling thunder, the noise was unforgettable. From the living room window, the family watched the airship as it drifted across the road, over the barn, and up the hill nearly touching the top of their cherry orchard. The crew threw the spider lines from the airship in hopes they would either get tangled in the tree tops, or perhaps someone would be able to reach them and restrain the airship.

Ed and his family would never forget the sight of the USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) on that eventful morning. As the squall line continued to pummel  the zeppelin, the ship eventually broke in half with part of it landing near Ava, Ohio in Noble County, and the rest being scattered about ten miles farther, with many of the crew falling to the ground along the way.

Rings made from Shenandoah's aluminum frame

Rings made from Shenandoah’s aluminum frame.

People made a beeline to the crash location in the continuing rain. Ed begged his family to let him go to the site, but they felt there would be too much confusion there for a youngster. Instead his brother drove to Ava through the mud roads in his new Willy’s Baby Overland. Once there they saw people cutting up the fabric of the airship for raincoats. Even though it was raining, people still needed drinking water so a local farmer, fearing his well would go dry from so many users, began charging for water – something rare in those days. Another young entrepreneur brought thirst quenching bottles of pop to sell at the site. Many took pieces of Shenandoah’s aluminum frame as souvenirs.  Ed’s brother brought him a piece of aluminum, which Ed melted in their forge and fashioned into rings. His dad put on one of those rings with a diamond shape on top, wore it every day and was even buried with it on his hand.

Shenandoah Memorial in Ava Ohio

Shenandoah Memorial in Ava Ohio

Today the Shenandoah Memorial stands near the place of the crash. Originally, the memorial was back in the woods at the actual site of the crash, but today it has been moved where people can visit it more easily. It consists of a small metal replica of the Shenandoah airship inside a tall granite archway , which is surrounded by swirling metal storm clouds. A bronze plaque lists names of those who lost their lives in the crash.

At the southern end of Ava, there is a USS Shenandoah Memorial Trailer Museum beside Rayner’s Garage. Bryan and Teresa Rayner have saved many pieces of memorabilia regarding that crash in 1925. Bryan has a special interest since his family owned one of the farms where pieces were found.

A local high school in Noble County carries on the historic memory of this event by having their high school sports team called the Shenandoah Zeps.  Their logo is a sleek dirigible.

How wonderful it would have been to view the Shenandoah in all its magnificence as it glided through the sky. Thanks to all those who help memories of the  famous airship and its crash still live on!

To visit the Shenandoah crash site, take I-77 to Exit 28 , Belle Valley. From the west side of the interstate, take Hwy 821 North 5 miles to Ava. The monument is on the north side of town on the east side of the road and well marked. Rayner’s Garage and the Shenandoah Trailer Museum are on the south side of town. The museum has limited open hours.

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