Stephenson Cemetery, Jackson County, Ohio

Location: Hamilton Township
GNIS 385236N 0824222W Petersburg

To date this has been the second most difficult cemetery for me to locate, as I have yet to find Old Bloom Church Cemetery in Scioto County after much searching and some pretty specific directions. Even many old-time residents in the area of Stephenson either don't know where it is or have never heard of it. In fact, even the lady who owns the house adjoining this cemetery had no idea what it was called! So I will give you my best description of how to find it, for you will never see it from the road and there is no cemetery marker.

Traveling east on RT 139 from Minford towards Oak Hill, when you enter Jackson County you'll come to a fork where you can continue on 139 or turn onto 279 to the right. Take 279 past Sam Gilliland Road and JUST BEFORE you reach Gieke Road on your right you'll see a brown house with a large deck on the opposite hillside. This house provides the only parking and access you will have to Stephenson Cemetery.

Fortunately for me, the day I finally found the right spot the homeowner was there and graciously let me cross her property to reach Stephenson. You have to hike behind her property, go down an incline with some treacherous footing, then hike up the hill to reach the cemetery. Be prepared to wear some suitable shoes -- this is no walk in the park.

Report and photos by Kate Maynard, 2008

(Click on a thumb for larger image.)

Stephenson Stones

A view of the few remaining stones in the cemetery.

Thanks to the encouragement and support of the Hamilton Township trustees and Fiscal Officer, a project to restore this cemetery is planned for the summer of 2009 and a trust will be established for the future upkeep of this historic cemetery.

Sarah (Krouskop) Gilliland

Sarah (Krouskop) Gilliland

This is what remains of Sarah (Krouskop) Gilliland's stone. Her marker was still upright and intact at the time Rebecca Albrecht took a photo inventory a few short years ago.

I do believe the published index I was working with was incomplete and I'll tell you why. What little is left of Stephenson is comprised mostly of those stones on the very periphery, exactly where the mowing stops. The cemetery itself is roughly circular and is full of depressions of collapsed graves, nearly all of which are missing their stones.

Closeup 1

Closeup 2

Closeups of Sarah Krouskop Gilliland's toppled stone

I found the largest section face down in the mud. Though I was able to turn it over to get photos of the inscription, which can barely be read now, I could not lift it.

Some of the Stephenson stones are nearly buried and the one for Martha Stephenson is about to fall. I should have taken a side shot of her stone, as it is listing forward at about a 20+ degree angle. I tried pushing it back but again, it was too heavy.

W.W. and Mary Walls

W.W. and Mary Walls

The broken and scattered marker for W.W. and Mary Walls.

Members of the Walls, Stephenson, Dever, Gilliland and Canter families served as the first officers for Hamilton Township when it was organized in 1825. All of these families are connected by marriage to the Gillilands and/or Gillelands.

Fortunately some of the Gilliland, Canter, Dever and Stephenson stones are still there because they are situated on the edges of the cemetery, but even some of those have now been knocked down, including the large pedestal marker for Sarah Krouskop Gilliland (1796-1848). It took all my strength to turn it over to get a shot of the inscription. I tried to right that stone as well as one Malinda Canter, which was face down in the mud, but they were simply too heavy for me. I truly regret there was not much I could do and within the short visits I have home it's simply not possible for me to mount a restoration project.

Stephenson Markers

Buried markers of the Stephenson family.

Malinda Canter

Malinda Canter

The toppled stone of Malinda Canter.

Nathan Gilliland

Nathan Gilliland

The pedestal for Nathan Gilliland (1821-1863), son of Samuel and Sarah.

As you can see by the photo, the pedestal is being lost to the woods. I tried clearing away some of the briars and tore up the jacket I was wearing.

Samuel Gilliland

Samuel Gilliland

Samuel Gilliland's pedestal. Both Samuel (1787-1852) and his brother Hugh, who was buried at Hamilton-McCoy, were veterans of the War of 1812 and were present at the siege of Detroit. Sarah Krouskop's immigrant grandfather, Johann George Krouskop, served as an Ensign in the Revolutionary War.

Infant Son of George and Julina (Canter) Gilliland

Infant Son

Broken and toppled stone for a child of George and Julina (Canter) Gilliland. The parents are buried at Hamilton McCoy while their infant was buried with his grandparents, Samuel and Sarah Gilliland.

Samuel Stephenson

Samuel Stephenson

The marker for Samuel Stephenson, Jackson County pioneer. His son, Samuel Stephenson Jr., married Elgina Louise Gilleland, a daughter of John Berrisford Gilleland, an early Justice of the Peace for Jackson County. Though the Gillelands and Gillilands were initially unrelated families, via marriage their families became intertwined. Sarah, the widow of John Berrisford Gilleland, took as her second husband Samuel Gilliland, a widower upon the death of his wife, Sarah Krouskop. Hence, for a time the Gillilands and Gillelands were a blended family.

Two infant children of Samuel Stephenson Jr and Elgina Louise Gilleland are buried at this cemetery: Samuel Stephenson, born 8 Oct 1861 and died 21 July 1862; and Franky Stephenson, a daughter who died 13 Oct 1866 at the age of 9 months, 24 days. Their stones may be among the ones now partially buried.

Stephenson Cemetery

Stephenson Cemetery – a little-known but historic Jackson County cemetery now undergoing restoration and preservation for the future.

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