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Home > Places > Allen County, Ohio > Gomer, Ohio > First Funeral, Gomer

The First Funeral in Gomer


Rev. B. W. Chidlaw, 'The First Funeral in Gomer, O.' The Cambrian, Vol. II, No 6 (Nov/Dec 1882), pp. 271-2.


In this large, prosperous lands wealthy settlement of Welsh, the home of the dead is beautifully located and well preserved. Monument of granite and marble, large in size and tasty in structure, mark the graves of the honoured dead. On a lovely day last October, accompanied by one of the early pioneers - Thomas Watkins, Esq., - I spent an hour in this lovely cemetery, memory revelling on the names and virtues of many old and endeared friends reposing in hope beneath the green sod till the day of immortal awakening.

Passing a small marble head-stone, my friend said, "This, designates the first grave opened in the cemetery." The inscription told the story of its occupant: "Mary, daughter of David and Ann Roberts, died October, 1833, aged six years," and my friend related the story of her death and burial. In 1832 her father, her uncle Jas. Nicholas, Esq., and Thos. Watkins, then living in the Welsh Settlement of Paddy's Run, Butler Co., Ohio, explored the land recently sold by the Shawnee Indians to the U.S. Government and then opened for settlement. After carefully travelling this fertile domain, they selected and purchased a large tract on Pike Run, a tributary of the Ottowa river. In 1833 these adventurous pioneers with their wives and little ones, and their worldly goods, in three well loaded wagons, found their way to the land of their choice. Henry Davis and John Morgan, two neighbors, accompanied them, to help drive their stock and also to see the goodly land with a view of settlement. For
nearly a month these families domiciled in their wagons while they built their cabins. During this time, little Mary Roberts was taken sick, and soon after occupying their new and primitive home, the dark shadow of death rested upon it, and Mary was called to the eternal home prepared by Him who said "Suffer the little children to come unto me." These three families and that of Jacob Clevinger, who was their only neighbor, met and arranged for the funeral. A beautiful spot covered with majestic forest trees was selected as the resting place of the departed child, whose body was draped by loving hands in the winding sheet, the robe of the dead. An oak tree was felled and a section, four feet long, cut and split into slabs. These, the skilful hands of Henry Davis with the help of a hand-saw, drawing knife, ax, and augur, made into a coffin. At the appointed hour all the neighbors assembled at the house of mourning. Silently, and solemnly, the funeral cortege moved from the new built cabin to the grave ready to receive its sacred trust. Overshadowed by the branches of a majestic sugar tree in the quiet of the unbroken forest they deposited, in the narrow house appointed for all the living, the first fruit of death in the settlement. There, Mary Roberts, was the only tenant of the grave in this resting place of the dead, where, during nearly fifty years following, hundreds have been gathered as her fellow sleepers til the dawn of an eternal day shall break over the darkness of the grave and "they that sleep in Jesus shall God bring with Him."

Cleves, O., Dec. 19, 1882

Gweinyddu