GREENVILLE — Despite the frigid temperatures Friday afternoon, the Fort GreeneVille Daughters of the American Revolution, dedicated the newly-erected sign to reflect that it is the Water Street Cemetery.
“Pioneer Park is to reflect the vision in 1947 that was referred to as Pioneer Park when the Fort replica was designed and built,” Debbie Nisonger, regent of the DAR, said. “Not all of the plan was completed when the fort was constructed. The vision when the fort was built was to also include what gravestones were there with a suitable monument. Unfortunately, that phase of the project didn’t get done until DAR member Florence Magoto and others designed the memorial wall that is presently standing.”
The sign, Nisonger emphasized, is about the history of the property.
“Bottom line is DAR promotes historical preservation,” she said. “The sign states it’s the Water Street Cemetery but it also has history when the fort replica was built. When the vision of the fort replica was happening it was referred to as Pioneer Park by many at that time.”
Also at the dedication, the DAR received some welcoming news. They were recipients of two grants — one from the Lydia Schaurer Memorial and the other from the Ketrow Foundation — and a donation from Greenville National Bank to finish paying for the construction of the sign, which was created by Dustin Nealeigh, who was in attendance.
“What a godsend,” Nisonger said of the money received.
In her dedication address, Nisonger spoke, “On behalf of Fort GreeneVille DAR, I would like to thank everyone for attending this dedication today. A special thanks to Dustin Nealeigh for such a job well done in the design. The Water Street Cemetery originated in 1816 and was in use until 1853 although a few additional burials followed. After that time period, sadly the cemetery was abandoned and neglected for years.”
In 1946, she said the ownership of the cemetery was transferred to the State of Ohio. In 1947, with Fred D. Coppock on the board of trustees of the Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, a memorial project began that was being referred to as the Pioneer Park by many. The Pioneer Park plans included a stockade structure for use by the Boy Scouts and preservation of the cemetery stones in a permanent resting place along with a suitable monument.
“The stockade structure was completed but it wasn’t until many years later that the cemetery’s grave stones memorial was completed,” she said. “In the 1960s, the City of Greenville resumed responsibility of the Water Street Cemetery property. In 1972, Fort GreeneVille DAR placed a bronze memorial tablet that designates this site as the Water Street Cemetery in celebration of the chapter’s 50th anniversary.”
In the 1990s, DAR member Florence Magoto and many concerned local citizens began the process of preserving the Water Street cemetery gravestones, according to Nisonger.
“In 1998 the park board passed an ordinance to do a memorial wall of gravestones,” Nisonger continued. “The Treaty of GreeneVille Bicentennial Commission dedicated the Water Street Cemetery wall on Memorial Day 1999. Proudly the cemetery was honored after years of being forgotten. With such historical significance this property bears, as the Water Street Cemetery with our earliest settlers of Greenville and referenced as the Pioneer Park with the building of the stockade for the Boy Scouts and public, I would like to dedicate this sign in memory of those early pioneers, along with the efforts of Florence Magoto, Fred D. Coppock and the so many others that preserved this historical site throughout its many years of history. The city of Greenville has been so fortunate to have citizens that appreciate the history of this city and preserve the Water Street Cemetery property. Whether its citizens like the late Florence Magoto who worked so hard to preserve the Water Street Cemetery grave stones and burial sites or others like Fred D. Coppock who envisioned a memorial project to capture the importance of the Treaty of Greenville and its fort’s significance.”
Prayer was given by DAR Vice Regent Brenda Arnett, and words were spoken from Roger Snider of the Greenville Park Board.
“Thanks to all who worked for this,” Snider said.
Others in attendance were: Greenville City Council President John Burkett; citizens Jerry Wright and Larry Aultman; Boy Scout Troop 134 Leader Keith Denman; and DAR members Linda Riley, Doris Aultman, Helen Wright and Chris Nehring, in addition to Arnett and Nisonger.
Nealeigh said he found lumber for the sign from beams in a barn. He estimated it took 15 hours to make the sign.