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Old Fort Cemetery Spotlights the Dearly Departed in New History Tour

Ever since I was old enough to walk, my Grandma let me tag along on her jaunts to Pleasant Union Cemetery just outside of Old Fort. Grandma Dortha was the best historian I've ever known. She could find an unmarked grave with the help of a weathered, hand-drawn map while simultaneously reprimanding me for standing on someone's grave and touching the flowers.

To me, going to the old cemetery wasn’t about roaming around some scary granite garden. Thanks to Grandma, I never viewed it as a final resting place for a bunch of dead people. Even as a little kid, I remember gazing across the graveyard and asking, “Who were you?” I wanted to know everything about everyone, particularly the ones buried in the “old” section.

It’s taken a full year of research, but finally, we’re ready to share some of the people of Pleasant Union on our inaugural “Dukes of the Dearly Departed” cemetery history tour.

Bringing their memory to life – even for just a little while – is the goal of this family-friendly excursion.

In the spotlight will be the first sheriff of Seneca County, a Civil War soldier who spent time in the notorious Andersonville prison, one of this area’s early female doctors, noted politicians, as well as those who met their demise in unusual ways, including one of the county’s first murder victims.

Even though the tour is presented by the Haunted Tiffin Ghost Walk team, there won’t be any paranormal investigating here. This is strictly history and storytelling, which is a fun change for us.

One of the best things about the “Dukes of the Dearly Departed” tour is that it is a partial fundraiser for the cemetery. As many of you know, cemetery sexton Mike Stiger, some of the cemetery board members, and a couple of us from Haunted Tiffin have begun the slow, painstaking process of cleaning tombstones with D2 Solution -- the same cleaning agent used at Arlington National Cemetery.

That stuff isn’t cheap.

A portion of the proceeds will hopefully ensure we’ll have plenty of solution for the next phase of the work, or anything else the cemetery board deems necessary.

Earmark your calendar for August 7 & 8. We will be holding two tours on both Saturday and Sunday: from Noon-2 and 6-8 p.m. Price is $15 per person for this 2-hour walk; $10 for kids 12-18; and children 11 and under are free. However, this may not be the event for very small children who might get easily distracted.

We also suggest that guests bring lawn chairs. We want you to be comfortable.

Space is limited and our Saturday evening tour is already filling up fast, so register today at Let us know how many will be joining you so we can get an accurate headcount.

This promises to be a great time. I just wish Grandma was here to tag along. But who am I kidding? I’m sure she’ll be standing right next to me the entire time.

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