This blog post was compiled to help clear up any misconceptions some folks may have regarding the legal ownership of the Walnut Grove Cemetery AKA Butcher Cemetery in North Lewisburg, Champaign County, Ohio.
(Linda Ellis and Mr. Richard “Dick” Holycross in 2005 standing next to the the marker for Mary E. Good.
Her marker was repaired in 2004 by Mr. Holycross. Sadly, we lost Dick in 2007.)
Both the Recorder and Auditor in Champaign County, Ohio have replied to my various requests for information and copies of documents, such as Wills and Deeds, going back as far as 1995 after my discovering that my 3rd great-grandfather, Harmon Limes, Jr., was buried in the Friends AKA Quaker Cemetery in North Lewisburg.
It was not long afterward that I learned one of Harmon Limes’ children, Adaline D. Limes Winder (Winder Ballinger, Dailey), was buried at the other cemetery in North Lewisburg – The Walnut Grove / AKA Butcher Cemetery, that I became interested in her life and the cemetery where she and her first husband Aaron Winder, her daughter Phebe Annie Sherrett, and grand-daughter Birddie B. Sherrett were buried.
In 1997, the Friends Church in North Lewisburg closed and the ownership of the building and the adjacent Friends Cemetery were transferred by deed to the Village of North Lewisburg. The former Friends Church became a branch of the Champaign County Library.
So, I turned some of my attention to communicating with local people and researching the Walnut Grove Cemetery/Butcher Cemetery. I quickly ran into a brick wall trying to learn who really owns it today and is responsible for its care.
I was able to visit the Walnut Grove / AKA Butcher Cemetery at least once a year for many years. The cemetery’s property has had long-standing condition issues.
There isn’t much for grass left these days. It is mostly weeds of one variety or another that grow at the Walnut Grove Cemetery/Butcher Cemetery. More routine trimming needs to be done around the markers and what is left of the standing monuments.
The cemetery may be mowed on a somewhat regular basis, however, the trees are not pruned and the downed branches pile up and require removal.
Needless to say, the cemetery landscape, particularly in the back portion, is where several downed monuments are strewn about lying in pieces on the ground. Some of them could be put back up if someone with a tripod and experience could be hired to do the work. I have seen it done numerous times at other cemeteries; even some like the Walnut Grove / AKA Butcher Cemetery.
Recently, the Recorder’s office again answered my questions about the ownership of the Walnut Grove Cemetery AKA Butcher Cemetery in North Lewisburg.
I was prompted to revisit this subject yet again due to some remarks published recently that the Walnut Grove Cemetery was “gifted” to the Village in 1963.
That information was not what I had ever heard before from anyone in North Lewisburg or anywhere in Champaign County.
The Walnut Grove Cemetery AKA Butcher Cemetery in North Lewisburg was never sold to anyone since the time it was deeded to the Walnut Grove Cemetery Association in 1882 by Dr. John Butcher.
(Above photo courtesy of Christine Roby of
Roby’s Memorial Design and Lettering of Madison Ohio)
1882 is a long time ago of course, and all of the members of that cemetery association have long since passed away themselves. The last one to depart this life was Dr. William H. Wagstaff in 1904. Dr. Wagstaff had been an ill man for a number of years when he died. Several searches were done to see if he deeded the cemetery to the Village of North Lewisburg, but none could be found.
Sharing below one of the latest replies received from the Champaign County Auditor.:
Glee Knoop firstname.lastname@example.org
Fri, Jul 17 at 3:18 PM
“The Auditor gave me your information and through the records at the recorder’s office I have found that this property is deeded to Walnut Grove Cemetery Association and until we have a deed that transfers to a new owner, it will remain in that name. I did see where a split off that parcel was processed in our office like you said, the 0.09 acre tract, it is now part of a parcel that is owned by a Alice M O’Brien.
I hope this answers your questions.”
Glee Knoop, Deputy for Karen T. Bailey
Champaign County Auditor
This goes back over five years ago:
June 12, 2015 8:58 AM
Lot #268 in North Lewisburg
“The cemetery is still owned by Walnut Grove Cemetery Association of North Lewisburg.
There has not been any transfers since they bought it from John Butcher in 1882.
Prior to that sale, Mr. Butcher gave a small piece of land to the Village of North Lewisburg to put in a road to the cemetery.
The road way was to be for the Walnut Grove Cemetery (AKA Butcher Cemetery), however, it was never built.”
What did happen in 1963 was that the Village of North Lewisburg sold the .09 strip of land to Mr. and Mrs. James Freshwater.
Per the Champaign County Recorder’s Office in a reply dated July 17, 2020:
“The Village of North Lewisburg split 0.09 acres off of the 2.50 acres of cemetery land and sold it to James and Kathleen Freshwater. The survey is not attached to that deed.”
Thus, the Freshwater couple never owned the Walnut Grove Cemetery / Butcher Cemetery itself to be in a position to gift it or deed it to anyone.
Sharing below another quote from the Champaign County Recorder:
“It looks like it was combined with the parcel you are inquiring about by an amended certificate of transfer in 2003.
It is part of 88 Tallman.”
Sincerely, Glenda L. Bayman Champaign County Recorder
I believe the Champaign County Recorder’s and Auditor’s offices answers to my questions.:
“Who owns the Walnut Grove Cemetery / AKA Butcher Cemetery in North Lewisburg? ” The legal documents they possess prove legal ownership of the cemetery. I wish to thank them here for all of their assistance with my requests.
Sadly, the Walnut Grove Cemetery / AKA Butcher Cemetery in North Lewisburg wasn’t ever deeded over to anyone when the last trustee of the Walnut Grove Cemetery Association died in 1904, that’s 116 years ago. I feel it is long past due to change that!
Every cemetery deserves to have an owner, a legal owner that properly cares for it. So does the Walnut Grove Cemetery / AKA Butcher Cemetery!
“All Cemeteries Matter!!