Dozens of Revolutionary War veterans buried in the area discovered by research efforts

The effects of weather on early gravestones renders many of them unreadable, such as this one for a man known variously as Garret Vanarsdalen and Garrett Van Ausdall buried in the Springdale Cemetery on Springfield Road in Reily. Many such graves have had bronze plaques attached to them to identify who is buried there. CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
The effects of weather on early gravestones renders many of them unreadable, such as this one for a man known variously as Garret Vanarsdalen and Garrett Van Ausdall buried in the Springdale Cemetery on Springfield Road in Reily. Many such graves have had bronze plaques attached to them to identify who is buried there. CONTRIBUTED

A Butler County woman’s efforts have revealed dozens of graves for Revolutionary War veterans in the Oxford area.

Lois Cocanougher took on the project as the result of walking through a local cemetery and noticing two things – many of the older grave markers were so weather-beaten the names were illegible and some had the plaques of the Daughters of the American Revolution signifying them as resting places of Revolutionary War veterans. In all, 49 were identified.

Cocanougher is the secretary of the Oxford Caroline Scott Chapter of the DAR and decided to document those veterans buried within the Talawanda School District. Some are ancestors of local members, some not.

Through research at the Smith Library of Regional History and on-line resources, she has discovered 49 such veterans who came to the area as pioneers to settle after their war service. Most are buried in public cemeteries but some are located on private property as many were buried in small plots on family farms.

“I was amazed at the number that were here. All but five are buried in the school district. The five others had ties to Oxford,” she said. “It really was worth it, finding all these guys. I would like to go to all of these graves. I just have not had time to, yet.”

The results of her research are compiled into a book of approximately 150 pages but only two copies of the book exist, one Cocanougher kept for herself and the other was given to the Smith Library, available to anyone interested in the findings.

The book was printed at the Oxford Copy Shop, where more copies can be produced, at a price, for anyone wanting one of their own.

Cocanougher has located Revolutionary War veterans in 21 locations, public and private cemeteries, in Oxford and Oxford Twp. as well as Hanover, Milford and Reily townships and in locations outside the school district for those with an Oxford connection.

A well-known Oxford Twp. resident was John Freeman, who was originally buried on his farm off Bonham and Coulter Roads. The family later built an impressive vault in the Oxford Cemetery and his gravestone was moved to that location. It has not been definitely determined whether his remains were moved with it.

Combined ShapeCaption
The Freeman family vault in the Oxford Cemetery is an impressive sight. Revolutionary War veteran John Freeman died in 1846 at the age of 82 and was originally buried on the family farm east of Oxford. His gravestone was later moved to the family vault but it is not known if his remains were also moved. CONTRIBUTED

The Freeman family vault in the Oxford Cemetery is an impressive sight. Revolutionary War veteran John Freeman died in 1846 at the age of 82 and was originally buried on the family farm east of Oxford. His gravestone was later moved to the family vault but it is not known if his remains were also moved. CONTRIBUTED

Combined ShapeCaption
The Freeman family vault in the Oxford Cemetery is an impressive sight. Revolutionary War veteran John Freeman died in 1846 at the age of 82 and was originally buried on the family farm east of Oxford. His gravestone was later moved to the family vault but it is not known if his remains were also moved. CONTRIBUTED

Another interesting story surrounds the burial site of Private Matthias Roll, who was buried on his farm in Hanover Twp. Cocanougher said the grave is reputed to be located somewhere on the land between the railroad overpass just south of McGonigle and Route 130, Old Oxford Road.

Another Revolutionary War veteran with Oxford connections is Benjamin Barbee. He is buried in Liberty Twp., however, in the middle of a subdivision on private property. The women have not been able to visit the grave and efforts to inquire about placement of a DAR marker there have been blocked citing potential for “an attractive nuisance” there.

About the Author