Palmyra Historical Society online auction will restore 19th century tombstones

The Palmyra Historical Society is launching an online fundraiser to continue its work of restoring the township’s oldest grave markers.

Nearly 200 years ago, Palmyra was sparsely populated — a true backwoods where only the hardiest of souls could survive. The discovery of coal in the 1830s brought hundreds of Welsh to Palmyra, many willing to do backbreaking labor in the shallow mines.

When their own time came to rest in the ground, their families fashioned grave markers out of slate or whatever stone happened to be handy, said Portage Historical Society President Della Evans.

Centuries on, the stones are in poor shape. Leaning or fallen completely in unused cemeteries, they need to be restored to their original positions or the graves will be unmarked. Evans said the families have long since moved on, so somebody’s got to care enough to do the job.

Restoration doesn’t come cheap. The old stones need a special kind of concrete that costs $400 a yard, which doesn’t go too far, she said. Even so, the historical society was able to repair five stones last year and hopes to raise enough funds to do 10 to 15 more this year.

To raise funds, an online auction will start May 31 and end precisely at 8 p.m. June 3. 

To bid, visit the Palmyra Historical Society’s Facebook page. Among the 14 baskets and buckets are Cavs and YSU merch; theater and major league sports tickets; a Texas Roadhouse basket with their seasonings; an AutoZone detail bucket; overnight getaways at various destinations; a Mansfield Snow Trails ski package; a designer purse filled with goodies; and a locally made patriotic wreath.

Evans will notify winning bidders by Facebook Messenger or will post the winning bid on the Facebook site. Winning bidders can pay by cash or local check only, made out to the Palmyra Historical Society. Items can be picked up starting June 4 at 10322 Tallmadge Road.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.