Medina Celebrates Civil War Legacy, Bicentennial With Encampment
As part of its Bicentennial celebration, the city of Medina wanted to acknowledge the community’s contributions to the Civil War. They decided to create an encampment where visitors could get a first-hand feel of what living conditions were like for the Union soldiers.
Then the question became-where to house it?
Teresa Merkle had an idea. She’s the president of the Trustees of the Friends of the Medina Cemetery, the nonprofit organization founded in 1997 to maintain and beautify the city’s two historic burial places: Old Town Graveyard and Spring Grove Cemetery.
“There are many Civil War veterans buried in Spring Grove and we have front lawns that are open, so ‘why don’t we use the cemetery for his event?”’ Merkle asked.
Spring Grove, which opened in 1883 is on the National Register of Historic Places. The grounds are an example of the “rural cemetery” movement, which emerged in the United States in the 1830s and became more prominent after the Civil War.
“Those cemeteries were established outside the city limits away from the churchyards and farms where people were buried.
These cemeteries followed the design that was popular in France and England at the time, which included ravines and serpentine roadways, meadows and woodlands. They were a place to come not only to reflect, but for recreation in those days,” Merkle said.
The Cemetery hosts a day filled with activities this Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., beginning with an acknowledgement of relatives whose ancestors died in the Civil War and are laid to rest in either of the burial grounds.
Merkle said visitors will easily be able to locate the graves of the soldiers who gave their lives in battle and, in some cases, learn the histories of these men.
“During the day, we’re going to have a grave tour. People can sign up go with a docent to the graves of five of the Civil War soldiers we know more about. We’re also going to mark all 163 graves, so that folks can visit those graves throughout the day.”
The encampment will be manned by members of the Ohio 8th Volunteer Infantry B Company. This Northeast Ohio-based Living History-Reenactment Unit is dedicated to preserving the Memory of the original 8th. That unit, which included a number of volunteers from Northeast Ohio, was considered one of the bravest regiments of the Civil War.
“There are several 8th Ohio veterans buried at Spring Grove. That was one (of) the reasons that the 8th Ohio [Volunteer Infantry B Company] wanted to come to Medina,” Merkle said.
Dottie Nemec, who is also involved in organizing the day’s events, said visitors also have a rare chance to enter another Medina landmark: a house that was a stop on the Underground Railroad.
“The gentleman who lives in that yellow house at the corner of Spring Grove and Weymouth Road has offered his home for tours of his Underground Railroad house. It’s very exciting, because everyone knows that house, but very few have had the opportunity to go through it. We have tours of ten at time with docents, plus the owner is personally giving the tour of the first floor where you can see the hiding places in the home,” Nemec said.