Near my office in Bedford Reservation is a little-known gravesite within Shawnee Hills Golf Course. Those who have golfed at Shawnee Hills in the last year have probably noticed the broken sandstone tombstone as they follow the path down from the 10th green to the 11th tee. Barely distinguishable is the year 1843. This site is more noticeable now since the golf course updated its greens and tees in the last year.
I remember as a boy from rural Indiana, a family gravesite surrounded by a wrought iron fence in the middle of a field. My relatives had farmed the fields surrounding the gravesite for over fifty years, yet I never ventured over to this rural cemetery plot. I am sure that it’s like most mid-to-late 1800 gravesites, especially in the middle of a country plot, where the names on the sandstone or limestone tombstones have faded. This saddens me because it is a sign of individuals and the past being forgotten.
The gravesite in Shawnee Hills Golf Course has more than likely been moved a few times to accommodate different uses of the land since this person died 170 years ago. With a bit of research I found out this tombstone belonged to a little girl who died at the age of three. Hannah Jane Egbert, who was buried in the front yard of this early Ohio homestead.
Does that name sound remotely familiar? It should if you have traveled to Bedford Reservation. Egbert Road connects to Union Street and Dunham Road within Bedford and Walton Hills. If you have driven, walked or ridden a bike along Gorge Parkway, then you have likely passed Egbert Picnic Area.
Shawnee Hills Golf Course and the surrounding land plots once belonged to James and Jane Egbert, farmers and millers who petitioned to have a county road made through the area in 1833 and finally settled with their family in 1837. By 1860, they owned 236 acres. The land was eventually divided up among his surviving children, John and Jane Egbert, between 1870 and 1900.
During his early years of settling this area, James -- like many early settlers in Ohio -- faced sickness, disease and farming accidents. Although the reason for Hannah Jane Egbert’s death is not recorded, her life was obviously cut short. The Bedford Cemetery reveals how deep the Egbert families woes became. Only two out of the nine children reached adulthood.
Although it’s hard to imagine this area devoid of trees, Bedford Reservation and Shawnee Hills Golf Course were once timbered for their wood to make way for fertile farmland with crops and livestock. The remnants of this land’s earlier use can only be imagined, but little Hanna Jane Egbert’s weathered tombstone is a testament to its earlier purpose along with her family’s name associated with the road and picnic area.
Hannah’s name is virtually faded away on the stone, her memory and her family’s connection to this land lives on and this makes me very happy. Maybe someday a new tombstone can be erected for little Hannah Jane Egbert.
Special thanks goes to Jean Kainsinger from Walton Hills Histroical Society for the informaion and photos.