Fairfield County Heritage Association rights grave wrong after 125 years

·4 min read
Elizabeth Reeves' unmarked grave sits between her husband John's and son Harold's in Lancaster's Forest Rose Cemetery. Thanks to the efforts of the Fairfield County Heritage Association, Elizabeth now has a headstone, after 125 years.
Elizabeth Reeves' unmarked grave sits between her husband John's and son Harold's in Lancaster's Forest Rose Cemetery. Thanks to the efforts of the Fairfield County Heritage Association, Elizabeth now has a headstone, after 125 years.

LANCASTER — Not much is known about Elizabeth Reeves, even though she was the fourth owner of the Georgian and held in high societal esteem in the late 1800s.

She's buried in Forest Rose Cemetery, in a plot between her husband John Reeves and her son, John Harold E. Reeves.

Through the efforts of the Fairfield County Heritage Association, a new headstone was erected for Elizabeth this year and will be dedicated on Dec. 14.

"It's fitting because that will have been 125 years since her death. Her husband and her son both got markers, and it isn't really known why she never got one, it's unusual that she didn't," Tammy Drobina, FCHA executive director, said.

She said the idea to get a marker began during a meeting to discuss the heritage association's Halloween party. The plan had been to have reenactors portray residents of the Georgian that had died there.

"We were also working on getting photos of the couples that lived here to hang for our tours. During our party planning and tours, we couldn't find any photos of (Elizabeth), then we found out no one really knew when she'd been born," Drobina said. "When we learned she didn't have a gravestone, that was the last straw, I knew we had to act."

Drobina began fundraising efforts in July, opting not to use heritage association funds, as those donations are meant for FCHA properties. She said she got a good response, raising enough money to cover the cemetery perpetual care fees and buy a simple headstone for Elizabeth.

"They hadn't even paid those fees, which had to be taken care of first before we could do anything else. Luckily, the staff at Forest Rose Cemetery were very helpful, and the staff at Danison Monumental Works helped us, too," Drobina said. "So now we have a headstone, and we're ready to have a small ceremony for Elizabeth."

Elizabeth (Hooker) Reeves was born to Samuel and Sarah Hooker in Greenfield Township sometime in the 1840s. She married John Reeves on Jan. 29, 1866. He was a Civil War veteran, reaching the rank of First Lieutenant and serving in the 11th Ohio Cavalry Regiment. After the war, John worked as an attorney. The couple had one son, John Harold E. Reeves in 1876.

The Reeves family lived in the Effinger House, which stood catercorner from the Georgian on Broad Street. The Georgian was transferred to Elizabeth in December 1892. Drobina noted that it was solely in her name, and it was unusual in that time for a married woman to be the sole owner of a house.

Elizabeth died in December 1896, but John and Harold continued to live in the house until John's death in 1920, and Harold moved to Springfield in 1940. The house was sold in 1935 in a sheriff's sale. Harold died in 1960. Both he and his father had headstones provided, Drobina said, by the Masonic Lodge for Harold, and a government-provided headstone for John, for his service in the war.

"John's headstone wasn't placed until 1950, about 30 years after his death. I still don't know why they didn't get one for Elizabeth. They kept the house for long after her death, so they must have had some means, but it is a mystery," Drobina said.

She said she had a personal connection in the mission to get Elizabeth a stone after losing her parents in 2020.

"I had gone through the arrangements of getting them headstones, so I know how important it was to have one. Everyone deserves one. From the information we found about her, Elizabeth was a well-respected woman in the community. There isn't much about her, besides what's in the society pages, but she was always working to help people," Drobina said. "She was a committee member of the Presbyterian church's building committee, raising funds for a new building."

"It meant a great deal to me to have such a strong response to get her the marker she deserves."

Drobina said the dedication ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Dec. 14 in Forest Rose Cemetery, at Elizabeth's grave. Located near the Civil War Veterans' memorial, the grave can be reached by traveling up Hill Road and taking a right on Lookout Road. The Reeves's graves are just bey

Barrett Lawlis is a news reporter for the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette. Contact him at 740-681-4342 or via email at blawlis@gannett.com for comments or story tips. Follow him on Twitter @BarrettLawlis

This article originally appeared on Lancaster Eagle-Gazette: FCHA raises money, buys headstone for owner of historic Lancaster home

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