A monument built in honor of The Ladies of Hillsdale was completed at the Oak Grove Cemetery this month.
After designing a plan for the monument, Carol Lackey, a lifelong Hillsdale resident, presented her idea to the cemetery board this past Feb. The Hillsdale city council then approved her plans for the monument, located near the former fountain and windmill at the center of the cemetery grounds.
The remains for the monument originated from the stone archway at the entrance to the cemetery, which was donated by the ladies of Oak Grove Cemetery Association in 1870. The Ladies of Hillsdale formed in an effort to care for the cemetery after upkeep was neglected during the Civil War. Through their hard work, they were able to fund the archway by selling goods at the Hillsdale County Fair. It stood until 1960, when it was taken down due to safety concerns.
In conjunction with both the Hillsdale Historical Society Board and the Oak Grove Cemetery Association, the building of the monument itself came together through the generosity of many in the community. James O. Taylor, a former Historical Society Member, left funds for the cemetery upon his death, which were used to assist in the completion of the memorial.
Lackey came across the idea for a memorial monument back in 2013.
As a member of both the Hillsdale Historical Society Board and the Oak Grove Cemetery Association, she dedicated her life to the preservation and research of many parts of historic Hillsdale through her volunteer work at the Mitchell Research Library.
“Out at the cemetery one day and back behind the potter’s field, I was looking around and found some stones,” Lackey said.
These stones she discovered to be pieces from the original 1870 archway that sat at the old entrance to the cemetery on Montgomery Street. She was able to preserve the pieces from when she first found them, to this year, when the monument was built.
Three of the original stones were used in the monument: one reading, “Erected by the Ladies of Hillsdale,” the 1870 headstone, and the original keystone.
“I think it’s nice that they were able to do something with some of those old stones to show off the work that was put in before when the arch was built back in the 1870s,” Frank Engle, sexton of Oak Grove Cemetery, said.
Jason Blake, foreman of the Department of Public Services, sees the monument as a symbol that brings back some of the history to the cemetery that was lost for the past 60 years, he said.
Blake and his crew contributed to the monument by excavating the area and assisting with the foundation structure.
A grand dedication will be organized for Spring 2017, where they hope to have a Civil War reenactment to focus on the people of the era that greatly influenced the city of Hillsdale, Lackey said.
Today, the memorial is surrounded by stone benches for the rest and relaxation of cemetery visitors who come to enjoy the beauty found in this secluded corner of Hillsdale.
“At one time they held local picnics at the circle,” Lackey said. “I enjoy going to the cemetery and thinking about the history of the community.”