Coal Run Cemetery’s history began in early 1800s

COAL RUN – “Too fair, too dear for mortals here, her saviour called her home. But we are left to drop a tear and mourn her early doom.”

So reads the epitaph of Harriet Cowee, whose final resting place is the oldest gravesite in the Coal Run Cemetery behind the Church of Christ just off Tick Hill Road near the Adams/Waterford townships’ border.

“She was just 28 years old when she died in 1835, and was buried here 19 years before this became a cemetery in 1854,” said Phillip Crane, researcher for the Lower Muskingum Historical Society.

The gravestone identifies Harriet as “consort of Seneca Cowee,” who came to Ohio from Vermont and married Harriet-his second wife-in 1830.

Harriett Cowee was a daughter of Benjamin McAtee, who transferred the Coal Run property for a church and cemetery to the Christian Church in 1854.

“The deed says McAtee sold the property for $40 to trustees of the Christian Church at Fair Play in Adams Township,” Crane said. “But it couldn’t be the Fair Play area we know today that’s located on the other side of the Muskingum River, because the deed said the cemetery land was part of 100 acres on the south side of the Marietta and Chandlersville Road.”

He said that roadway was an original stagecoach route that ran north to Chandlersville in Muskingum County.

Benjamin McAtee was born in 1781 in Virginia, and died in 1872 at the ripe old age of 91 at Coal Run, outliving his wife, Winny B. McAtee, who was 59 years old when she died in 1838, according to Crane.

“One curiosity is that the McAtee name was spelled ‘Mackata’ in the 1820 census,” Crane noted. “The census-taker at that time apparently just spelled the name phonetically.”

Also among the graves in Coal Run Cemetery are several soldiers who served in the Civil War and World War I.

The Coal Run Cemetery is located about a half mile from Ohio 60 on Waterford Township Road 722. Although located behind the Christian Church-now the Church of Christ-the cemetery is maintained by the Waterford Township Trustees.

Township Trustee Matt Cavanaugh said no one has been buried in the graveyard for at least 18 years.

“There are a lot of older graves, and some of the stones are crumbling,” he said. “But we do get some calls-maybe one or two a month-from people interested in locating the cemetery or trying to trace their family histories.”