Lacking a legal owner for over 116 years – The Walnut Grove Cemetery /AKA Butcher Cemetery in North Lewisburg, Champaign County Ohio

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 

 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.”

 Thank you,

Glee Knoop, Deputy for Karen T. Bailey

  Champaign County Auditor



This goes back over five years ago:

June 12, 2015 8:58 AM

 My question: 

Butcher Cemetery 

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!!



John Wildman Winder – Daguerreotypist and Photographer – His Stereoviews of Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati document some important features of this grand cemetery’s earliest history

I research the Quaker (Friends) Cemetery in North Lewisburg, Champaign County, Ohio primarily because my 3rd great-grandfather, Harmon Limes, Jr., is buried there.  

His daughter, Adaline D. Limes, was married 4 times during her lifetime. Her first two marriages were to Winder brothers Aaron (1st) and Thomas (2nd). 

Thus, I studied some of the Winder family history and learned who their children were.
Aaron and Adaline were buried at the nearby Walnut Grove Cemetery (better known as the “Butcher” Cemetery) in North Lewisburg. 

Thomas Winder, who was older than Aaron, was buried with his first wife, Hannah Wildman Winder, at the Quaker (Friends) Cemetery in North Lewisburg. 

Thomas and Hannah’s oldest child was John Wildman Winder who left the North Lewisburg area and led a remarkable and productive life. His photographic work, particularly in Cincinnati, produced images of unparalleled historical significance; some of which survive today.  

His stereoviews give us a good glimpse of the grandeur of 1860’s – 1870’s life in Ohio’s “Queen City.” 

John Wildman Winder died April 9, 1900, at age 71, in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was buried in the Old Uvalde Cemetery in Uvalde, Texas.


The book:  “Artists in Ohio 1787 1900 A Biographical Dictionary”- 2000; by Jeffrey Weidman – Project Director; John Wildman Winder is listed as a daguerreotype artist and photographer born in Ohio about 1828 and active in Cincinnati Hamilton from 1855 to 1873, as proprietor of Winder’s Great Western Ambrotype and Melainotype Gallery.”


J.W. Winder – 1866 Cincinnati Bird’s Eye View

Scroll down to:


   “The following section is of a rarely seen panorama of Cincinnati that was taken in 1866. This is the earliest panoramic photograph showing the details of the heart of the city. Of course the 1848 daguerreotype, seen on the Panoramas Page, of the waterfront was the first. J. W. Winder, a local photographer, took these photographs from the top of Mozart Hall which was just south of Sixth and Vine Streets (where later the Grand Theater would stand). The panorama was first seen at Winder’s Fourth Street Studio on July 28, 1866. The map below shows what area each photograph is viewing. The explanations that accompany each image was written 30-40 years ago so the buildings that are mentioned, for the most part, no longer stand. You will have to insert today’s structures into the explanation. There is no easy way to show this panorama but this was the best I could come up with. I believe the trouble you will have will be worth it.” 


 (Scroll further down to view images of the 10 sections with descriptions)



1850 Census – Zane Township, Logan County, Ohio

Family of Thomas and Hannah (Wildman) Winder

 (Above two images)

1870 Census – Cincinnati, Ohio

 Family of John Wildman Winder and his wife Martha Adams Winder. Their children appear on the next page.


Second Edition 

Below are references to John Wildman Winder 

(AKA John W. Winder or J. W. Winder

from the 

above-referenced publication:


Circa 1865, 1867-1869

142 West Fourth Street,

Cincinnati, O.




Tree Stump Monument for Andrew Henry Ernst 



Between 1853 and 1867 the entrance buildings were erected at the principal gateway to the grounds, on the southern boundary, at Spring Grove avenue. They are from designs of Mr. James K. Wilson, in the Norman-Gothic style, one hundred and fifty feet long, and cost something over fifty thousand dollars. They include, besides apartments for the use of the directors and the superintendent, a large waiting-room for visitors. The commodious receiving vault, situated in the centre of the grounds, was considerably enlarged in the year 1859.”