Mothers’ Day Headstone Cleaning at Greenlawn Cemetery

At Greenlawn Cemetery in Portsmouth, Ohio, is a low row of nearly identical marble markers. These small monuments, not a foot tall, mark the final resting place of those residents of the Home for Aged Women, also known as the Old Women’s Home or the Old Ladies Home.

The Home for Aged Women, originally at 745 Front Street, and later razed in 1926 for the construction of the Grant Bridge, and later 1004 Second Street, at operated with the same charitable function as the Scioto County Infirmary or the Scioto County Children’s Home, but was exclusively for women, 65 years of age or older, who no longer had a homes of their own or relatives to care for them. Additional stipulations for residency required that the woman, typically a widow, be a resident of the city of Portsmouth.

While doing background research for another story we came across a plat that detailed this communal burying ground for those former residents. The plat places them in Section 10, Lots 18 & 19. This section is a rounded feature of the cemetery that was once bisected by a now-defunct roadway named Vine Alley.

Having previously worked (and still working) to determine the identity of those numbered graves of the Scioto County Infirmary Cemetery I thought it important to bring attention to and document those that were interred at this small plot. On the day before Mothers’ Day, we found it fitting to clean the markers of those in the lot belonging to the Home for Aged Women.

Please forgive the poor time-lapse camera-work, strong winds, and looming rainclouds moved the tripod a good deal as we attempted to keep pace with the rotating camera and still perform a thorough initial cleaning of the monuments. The grave markers were cleaned with a soft nylon bristle brush, D/2 Biological Solution, and water. The water was delivered using a battery-powered garden sprayer at <28 PSI. Unfortunately, rain began to fall right as we had completed our cleaning phase so we didn’t have that “big reveal” change we typically see on warmer sunnier days, but the D/2 will continue to brighten the stone over the coming weeks and months.

We did continue on to our post-cleaning documentation phase where we photograph the marker and geolocate the marker to assist in future location by descendants.

With good images in hand, our first stop for research was Greenlawn Cemetery’s online database. This information which is information extracted from original paper copies of burial permits, burial records, plats, and other sexton-related information yielded information that was vital to obtaining leads as to the identity of those interred. As an example: sexton burials records would provide a burial date. That date with a small range could be used in conjunction with the person’s name, county of residency (Scioto…in most cases), and year of burial to return a result for a death record, such as those seen to the right of the grave markers below. Those death records provide additional useful information such as the parents’ names, date of birth, their marital status, and the reporting person. All of this information can be compiled to acquire additional records such as census, marriage, birth for children, death of a spouse, and more.

Below are the images that were obtained immediately after our cleaning and the death certificate for the corresponding person. Often we found that these burials were either poorly documented or non-existent on FindAGrave. Memorials were either created or edits submitted to better reflect a more complete genealogical picture.

Jane Halterman Hanes 1857-1935

Alice Taylor 1843-1926

Angeline “Dicey” Earwood Sparling 1861-1935

Sarah Snyder 1841-1925

Elizabeth Tibbs Skelton 1840-1925

Lily McLaughlin Wingo 1850-1925

Mary Jane McNaughton 1832-1918

Angelina Smith 1828-1912

Harriet Dewey Brown 1835-1910

Jennie Rebecca Brown Harris 1864-1947

Emma Nelson Howe 1854-1944

Elizabeth Miller Johnson 1849-1943

Della Johnson 1870-1942

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