Bethel Cemetery 

My introduction to this country cemetery was when I was nine and we drove for what like seemed forever from the first funeral in my experience and out across the bleak fields of Ohio to the burial.

I had no idea where we were, though now I’m surprised to find it was only a mile from Uncle Arlie’s farm, as the crow would fly northwest.

I was also clueless why this was the destination, rather than another one where I’d been on repeated stops. More on that in a future posting.


I eventually returned to this place decades later, once I’d undertaken the genealogy and had a name for the site, this time to find the graves of my great-great-grandparents, Jacob and Caroline Ehrstine. I was truly perplexed, why here?

I’m guessing this stone was erected in the 20th century, replacing earlier ones.
Their toddler son, Jesse
And toddler son Eli


The question was why they were buried at Bethel, rather than at the Ehrstine cemetery a township to the east, where many of my earlier ancestors are interred. I see no evidence of a family lift and can only conclude that their decision reflected a commitment to their community of faith, centered at the Salem Church of the Brethren across the road. From the German-American names on the gravestones, many with strong Brethren roots, Bethel appears to have been the church graveyard.

Not only are Arlie and Edna (Ehrstine) Binkley buried here, so are two generations of his ancestors and kin, including the Taylors, plus Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Jesse Haines, another Ehrstine descendant.

And my father was born not that far to the west.

A genealogist can learn a lot nosing around among old tombstones.

Other burials, giving a sense of the Brethren community, include Jesse Kinsey Brumbaugh, a minister.
Mary Hocker Brumbaugh upholds the Plain Brethren appearance.
Lowell Dale Gerber maintained tradition. Men wore beards but not mustaches.
As did Hubert Paul Balsbaugh.



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