Historical focus: The Bellville Cemetery

A glimpse of the eight-acre property that makes up the Bellville Cemetery.

The historic Bellville Cemetery stands as a monument to residents present and past, founded during the early part of the 19th Century the cemetery is nearly as old as the village itself.

According the Bellville Historical Society’s archive, the initial site of the cemetery was located just south of the current maintenance building and was roughly eight acres. Here Bellville cemetery’s oldest burial from 1812 of the Bowers family member lies. This 200 years section is also the final resting place of the town’s founder Robert Bell.

“I have relatives buried in the Northeast part of the cemetery,” said Bellville Historical Society volunteer Ruth Ann Kilgore. “It has a lot of history there, it’s the oldest part of the grounds.”

According to the archives, the chapel area is the next oldest section of the Bellville Cemetery. In it lies one of Bellville’s oldest military veterans, Major William Gillipse who fought with the Pennsylvania troops during the Revolutionary War.

The chapel itself was originally used to house a Bellville resident in the latter half of the 1800’s but as the cemetery expanded the owner sold it to the village for extra space.

The building has a history as storied as the grounds of the cemetery. It is nicknamed the “Ghost Post” and was used to identify aircraft during World War II and the Korean War. The walls of the building were lined with charts to help onlookers identify individual planes overhead.

The next major expansion of the cemetery came at the turn of the 20th century as Bellville continued to expand. In 1915, 396 burial plots were added to the grounds. The newly expanded area is where most of the founding village family members are buried. According to historical society documents, it is heavily occupied with distant relatives of current villagers.

According to the archives, the last addition to the Bellville Cemetery came in 1979 when 486 lots were added to the grounds. The newest addition is the only area left in the cemetery with space available for purchase. Roughly 120 sites are still available.

Much of the history of Bellville can be quantified by the names on the remaining legible headstones that date back to the time before Ohio was a state. The cemetery is one of many historical landmarks that pepper the village and tell its unique history to residents and visitors alike.