Quest under way to identify those buried in potter's field

MEDINA, Ohio - A history buff who turned folklore into fact by discovering a long-rumored cemetery now wants to identify the 55 people buried in unmarked graves.

Lynda Bowers, a trustee in nearby Lafayette Township, believes she can discover the names of the dead -- some possibly deceased for more than a century -- by determining which residents of that era were buried elsewhere.

"It's the right thing to do," Bowers told

The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer

for a story Friday.

The cemetery, used by the former Medina County Home, was a potter's field for people who died with no money to pay for a burial.

The county home, which opened in 1854, was first called an infirmary. A 1875 atlas designates it as the county "insane building," Bowers said.

Bowers grew up in nearby Guilford Township and heard stories about the cemetery, but "unless you know the folklore, you don't know it's there," she said.

She began to look for the burial site and asked the county's former administrator, John Stricker, for help.

Two weeks before Stricker died of lung cancer on March 10, he informed Bowers he had discovered a hand-drawn map of the county home graveyard. Bowers went to site with a metal detector to look for coffin nails, but depressions in the soil revealed where the people had been buried.

Tom James, director of the Medina County Park District, said there are no plans to use the cemetery's two acres and the park system would work with Bowers to erect a monument or plaque there.

County Commissioner Steve Hambley said there is no Ohio law requiring county governments to maintain cemeteries. However, more cemeteries are being discovered as housing developments push onto farmland where unmarked family burial plots are located, he said.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.