Madison County History and Genealogy

History and Genealogy

Fairfield Township History


From History of Madison County, W. H. Beers & Co, Chicago, 1883

As the pioneers penetrated the forests and the unsettled portions of our country, disease, sickness and death met them everywhere, and it very soon became necessary to have a place to inter their dead. And as they always advanced ahead of the organizations of townships and counties, there could be no provision made by their authority; hence with them every neighborhood and often each family had to provide for their own dead. Hence we find in all localities, where the first settlers located, family and neighborhood burying-grounds, some of which have been fenced in and carefully protected, and a few have since become the property of the townships, and enlarged and improved until they have become beautiful and pleasant places, fitting depositories for the bodies of our dead, while others again have been neglected, and all headstones and marks or inscriptions obliterated, and the grounds again thrown into the open fields, and the plowshares tear the soil, or the stock roam at will above their sleeping forms.

The first burial-place in Fairfield Township, and, in fact one of the first in Madison County, was the Fitzgerald or Opossum Run Cemetery. This was first used as a family and neighborhood burying-ground, when the tract of land was owned by John Phebis. It was dedicated by receiving the body of a man, name now unknown, who came here from Chillicothe to settle, and, while cutting down timber to build his house, was killed by a falling tree. This it is believed occurred about 1808. The next to receive burial here, as shown by the tombstone, was Isaac Woods, who died October 16, 1812, aged twenty-five years. He was a soldier, and had been with the troops out toward Sandusky, and they were returning home, having had a successful and prosperous trip, were rejoicing over their successes, when he was accidenally shot and killed. Another pioneer deposited here was Jamos Blair, who died September 20, 1816, aged thirty-six years. Some others, prior to 1825, were Joannah, wife of John Clark, died May 31, 1819, aged thirty six years. David Dennison died October 1, 1823, and Richard Newland died May 11. 1825, aged thirty years. From this time forward, this was a general burying-place for the neighborhood, and accessions to this "city of the dead" were frequent and numerous. After Judge E. O. Fitzgerald became the owner of this tract of land, he set apart and fenced in one acre of ground devoted to burial purposes, which remained thus till in the spring of 1880 the Trustees of the township received and took charge of it and purchased three-fourths of an acre more and added to it, and the township now has a deed for one and three-fourths acres of ground, which is high and dry and well adapted to cemetery purposes.

Dennison Chapel Cemetery.—This burying-ground immediately joins on the west side the lot upon which the church is built, and was appropriated to the burial of the dead at a much later date. It is well inclosed and preserved, and within its inclosure are evergreens and shrubbery, giving it an appearance of care. It has received many of the dead of this church and neighborhood. Tbe first person to be buried here was Cyrus Nichols.

The Thomas Cemetery.—This is located a little east of California and just east of the schoolhouse, and was appropriated for this purpose by Robert Thomas, who owned that tract of land and was dedicated by the reception of his body, who died August 9, 1831, since which it has received the bodies of many of the early settlers and people of the neighborhood. These embrace all the burying-places that are preserved, and now have a visible existence within the territory of Fairfield Township.

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