Monday, March 25, 2013

Then and Now -- A Tale of A Solitary Gravestone on Hart Road

The Smith Farm Cemetery is located near the intersection of Hart and Baldwin Roads in Kirtland, Ohio.  It is situated opposite of the Leonard Hannah Estate and near the old Schoolhouse, both of which are well known landmarks in county history.  Unlike Evergreen Cemetery, Old North Cemetery, Mentor Cemetery, Concord Twp. Cemetery and most other cemeteries, the Smith Farm Cemetery consists of a singular marker.  While other cemeteries have stories to tell and are a literal walk in time, the Levi Smith gravestone is every bit as important in the annals of county history.

Levi Smith is one of the earliest settlers to Kirtland.  He migrated in the early 1800's with his wife Ruth (Holbrook) Smith from Derby, Connecticut.  Derby was one of the first towns established in the American colonies in the 1600's.  Arriving in Kirtland, circa 1814, Levi was one of the original twelve whose influence helped establish the Mormon roots in the area.  He organized the First Congregational Society in his home.  In time it became the Old South Church.

His wife died at a young age in 1819 leaving behind four children.  Levi remarried and lived out the remainder of his years at the farm homestead.  Their grave was maintained into the 1940's by family members.  The original headstone of Levi and his wife Ruth is now in the collection of the Lake County Historical Society.  The current headstone surrounded by stone was placed on the site in 1988.

Smith's gravesite while unique for its solitary setting has become somewhat of an urban legend.  It seems Derby, Connecticut was home to some of early American History and Western Reserve witchcraft lore.  Smith's tombstone has been tagged a 'Witch's Grave' by some.  Its mythology has even been associated with Kirtland's other famous ghost story - the Melonheads.

Urban legend or not, the solitary marker of Levi and Ruth Smith is worth viewing the next time you travel down Hart Road.  The Smith Farm Cemetery is just another hidden gem in our county's history.

Information sources -  1920 inscriptions book @ Morley Public Library and Janet Murfey document of Kirtland Hills History-1988

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