First in a series of articles on cemeteries in
Cleveland’s western suburbs.
Evergreen Cemetery in Westlake, Ohio is
located on Center Ridge Road and bordered by greenhouses, a nursery, and
soccer field. Across the busy highway, a housing complex sprawls beyond a
ridge that once was a farmer’s field. The cemetery is well maintained, but
something has been lost in the suburban encroachments around it. The names and
dates on many of the old tombstones have eroded away and, like the rural
surroundings, are gone forever.
The first burials date back to a time when
the area was called Dover, a part of Cuyahoga County that became a township in
1811. One of the first settlers, Jasher Taylor, a veteran of the American
Revolution, is buried in the southern part of the cemetery. His weathered
gravestone lies flat on the ground, but is still readable. Born in Ashfield,
Massachusetts in 1753, he served from time to time in the Continental Army
from April of 1775 to the end of the war. The records also show Taylor was a
farmer, six feet, one inch tall with a light complexion. He married Dolly Carr
and moved to Ohio before the turn of the nineteenth century. At the age of
seventy-five, the old soldier died, seven years after the Missouri Compromise
helped preserve the Union in 1820.
Sherman Sperry was born five years before the
Compromise of 1850, the last major attempt of a nation trying to find the
middle ground to avoid disunion and war. However, conciliation failed, and the
Civil War was about to enter its third year in January of 1863 when Sperry
volunteered for the 124th Ohio Infantry Regiment being organized at Camp
Cleveland. The eighteen year old became a musician in Company F and, more than
likely, his parents hoped this would keep him out of danger. Within the month,
the regiment left for Louisville, Kentucky and then moved on to Franklin,
Tennessee in February, joining the Army of Kentucky, Department of the
Cumberland. A month after his regiment fought its first battle at Thompson’s
Station, Private Sperry died on the 13th of April. He was buried in the
National Cemetery near Nashville, Tennessee. Sometime after the war, Sperry’s
parents may have moved his remains to Evergreen Cemetery.
Private John A. Clague’s grave is near the
soccer field, where today youngsters play and parents cheer, ignoring the
tombstones on the other side of a rail fence. Displaying marksmanship with a
rifle, Clague joined the 10th Independent Company of Ohio Sharpshooters, which
would become Company H in the 60th Ohio Infantry Regiment. In the late winter
of 1864, the regiment was reorganized at Camp Cleveland, departing by railroad
for Alexandria, Virginia on April 21, 1864.
The 60th Ohio was attached to the 2nd
Brigade, 3rd Division, and 9th Corps of the Army of the Potomac. From May 5 to
June 12, the regiment saw action at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold
Harbor. It then took part in the siege of Petersburg, which lasted from June
16, 1864 to April 2, 1865. Private Clague, however, did not survive that last
terrible summer of the war. Either a victim of disease or wounds, he was taken
north to Philadelphia where he died at the age of twenty-three on August 11,
1864. Buried in Pennsylvania, his remains may have also been moved by family
members to Evergreen Cemetery.
Surviving the Civil War by fifty-five years,
John C. Smith served in Company G of the 18th Regular Army Infantry Regiment.
Smith’s tombstone is unique because he wanted to tell his story for future
IN MEMORY OF JOHN C. SMITH
RHODA G. AND SAMUEL P. SMITH
JULY 1, 1838 – APRIL 4, 1920
HERE LIES THE ASHES OF A SOLDIER OF
1861-1864 WHO HELPED TO SAVE THE UNION THAT WAS DONE. WAS ON THE FORCED
MARCH SUNDAY APRIL 6, 1862 TO REACH THE BATTLE OF SHILOH, TENN. CALLED
PITTSBURG LANDING. WAS IN THE SIEGE OF CORINTH, APRIL AND MAY 1862. WAS IN
THE BATTLE OF PERRYVILLE, KY, OCT. 9, 1862. WAS IN ALL OF GEN. BUELL’S
LONG MARCHES OF 1862. WAS IN THE STONE RIVER BATTLE, DEC. 31, 1862 AND
SEVERELY WOUNDED AND LAID UP FOR REPAIRS OVER A YEAR IN HOSPITALS. THEN
SERVED ON DETACHED DUTY ON ACCOUNT OF WOUNDS TILL DISCHARGED.
ENGAGEMENTS OF THE 18TH U.S. INF.
STONE RIVER DEC. 31,
602 MEN IN BATTLE
100 KILLED AND DIED OF WOUNDS
300 TOTAL LOSS TODAY
CHICKAMAGUA SEPT. 19-20,
587 MEN IN BATTLE
45 KILLED AND DIED OF WOUNDS
159 WOUNDED 91 PRISONERS
295 TOTAL LOSS TODAY
P.S. MANY SMALL ENGAGEMENTS
JOHN C. SMITH OF THE 18TH
NO COPPERHEAD OR SLACKER FOR ME.
218 KILLED AND DIED OF WOUNDS
252 OF DISEASE – ACCIDENTS
864 MORE MEN WOUNDED – PENSIONED
James Bailey was another survivor of the
Civil War. Facing rain storms out of the northwest, his white limestone marker
is badly eroded. Bailey was forty-four years old on August 9, 1862 when he
went to Camp Cleveland and became a private in Company H of the 103rd Ohio
Infantry Regiment. Ordered south in September, the regiment saw action for the
rest of the war in Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and the Carolinas. Probably
due to his age, Bailey was transferred on November 21, 1864 to the 47th
Company, 2nd Battalion of the Veteran Reserve Corps and was mustered out of
the Union Army on July 1, 1865 in Washington City.
William W. Barnes was living in Michigan when
the Civil War erupted. At the age of twenty-six, he joined Company C of the
9th Michigan Infantry, which was being organized in Detroit during October of
1861. His regiment saw action in many of the major battles in the western
theatre, including Murfreesboro, Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Kennesaw, and
Atlanta. Suffering a total of 309 dead from wounds and disease, the regiment
was mustered out in Detroit during September of 1865. Perhaps the result of
the physical and mental stress of war, Barnes died the following decade on
March 1, 1876 and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, four months before the
United States celebrated its centennial anniversary.
WITH PART 2 >>
Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
(National Park Service Website, 2004).
Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the
Revolutionary War (Boston: Wright and Potter Printing Co., 1907).
Official Roster of the Soldiers of the
American Revolution Buried in the State of Ohio (Columbus: F.J. Heer,
Personal Reminiscences and Experiences
(Sheffield Lake, Ohio: One Hundred and Third Ohio Voluntary Infantry,
Roll of Honor, Names of Soldiers Who Died
in Defense of the American Union, Interred in the National Cemeteries
(Washington: Government Printing Office, 1869).