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Shirer Family Genealogy Project
Shirer Grave Restoration

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The restoration of the gravestone of John Peter Shirer located in Zion Lutheran Cemetery, Adams Twp., Muskingum Co., OH


Starting John Peter Shirer's Grave Restoration

John Peter Shirer died December 2, 1862. He was buried in Zion Lutheran Church where his 2nd wife's family were members. His first wife, Catherine Walters, was buried in Bethesda Methodist Cemetery which was located next to the Shirer land in Adams township. Zion is located not far from there. Peter had no other family buried in that cemetery so he was buried alone as his 2nd wife, the former ELizabeth Sandel Auchenbach, moved to Jasper County, Indiana with her children after Peter's death.

Intact gravestone for John Peter Shirer

This picture of the intact gravestone for John Peter Shirer donated by Frank Shirer. It was taken many years ago before the fence project was started.

Many years ago, Zion Lutheran Church contracted a company to enclose their cemetery with a fence. It is believed that the cnstruction company accidentally broke many stones, including Peter's and disposed of them by throwing them over the hill behind the cemetery. Frank's family had made a visit to the cemetery around 1960-64. They discoved the stone had been thrown over the hill but did not retrieve it. No menton of the location of the grave was recorded.


Finding the gravestone

Doug Kreis, a member of Zion Lutheran Church and a member of the Muskingum Genealogy Society, had collected the stones that had been thrown over the hill and stacked them all at the rear of the cemetery. When I first met Doug, he had mentioned the whereabouts of Peter's stone. My brother Dale and I went down there around 2002. We were able to find the stone and we brought it back up to Canton where I lived. I still have that piece of the stone as it is damaged enough that it will never be able to be fixed.

broken top gravestone for John Peter Shirer

This is the top of Peter Shirer's gravestone that was retrieved after being thrown over the hill at Zion Lutheran Cemetery. It is now located at the residence of Denny Shirer in Canton, OH.


Finding the grave

The next step in the process was to find the actual grave site. In 2008, the Muskingum Genealogy Society started a project to re-read all the cemeteries in Muskingum County and the head of the project is Doug Kreis. During the project Doug is also trying to locate and document all the graves of Zion Lutheran where he is a member. In October, 2009, Dough had asked me to send him a copy of the intact stone of Peter's. In the original photograph, two other stones can be seen in the background. By comparing them to still existing stone we were able to identify the tall stone in the picture as that of the Michaeal and Catherine (Sandel) Strohacker family.

Strohacker GravestoneThe stone's height, after it was also damaged, losing it's top piece, indicates the original location of Peter's stone was about 20 feet in front of it, which would mean it was about two rows in front.

Sandel and Gerwig GravestonesAnother image shows two stones through which the Strohacker stone is visible. The stones belong to the Gerwig and Sandels. Mr. Gerwig's wife was the sister of Elizabeth Sandel Shirer, Peter's second wife.

Broken GravestoneTo the right of the Gerwig and Sandel stone is a broken stone. It has the same angle of breakage as the top of Peter's stone. It also has what appears to be the lower left corner of the fram around the inscription on Peter's stone.

Composite GravestoneI used imaging software to create a composite image using the original image, the rescued top of the stone and the remnant found at the grave. They all seem to fit with the exception of a piece which remains missing and which may never be found. The remant is in the right place and next to close relatives of Peter's second wife. There are no other broken stones in the area, or graves missing their stones except that one. We have found the grave of John Peter Shirer!


Restoring the grave and gravestone

I am now looking into replacing the stone. Restoring the original stone would be impossible but we do have the information that was on the stone so any new stone will have the original information but will not be a recreation of the old. The new stone will also be made of marble which will last much longer than the old stone and will be shorter so it will not be damaged as easily as the original. The company I would use, Lang Memorials, is located in Canton, Ohio and has been in existance for many years. They created and delivered the gravestone for my mother who died a few years ago. It is a beautiful stone and I see one similar for Peter.


Donating to the restoration

Paying for the stone is the next part of the project. I cannot afford pay for this myself and feel that if enough of Peter's living descendants chip in, the cost can be spread out to make ot very affordable. Some of you may want to contribute more, some less. Anything at all will help. Anfor those that are Peter's offsping, he was our ancestor and without him, where would we all be? He deserves to be remembered and his grave marked so that we know where his remains are buried. Please contact me personally for more information. I would like to see this project completed before his 225th birthday in 2013. That gives us a little over three years and I am going to be taking donations up until that time. Anything that goes over the price of the stone will be donated to Zion Lutheran Church for grave upkeep.

Current Pledges and Donations:

  • Pledge: Dennis S. Shirer (Canton, OH)
  • Pledge: FrankM. Shirer (Fort Washington, MD)
  • Pledge: Donald L. Shirer (Westbrook, CT)

Please contact Denny Shirer for more information


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Compiled by: Denny Shirer, Canton, Ohio

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