City administration is looking to spruce up the city’s main cemetery. “We have kind of been doing it over the last few years,” said Mayor Bob Stefanik. “The paving of the street kinda kicked things off.” In 2008, Stefanik’s administration started earmarking some of the funds from the proceeds of plots there for long term maintenance. Stefanik said that discussions then ensued about various items that would improve the cemetery, such as overall cleanup within, as well as surrounding the location, as well as placing a decorative fence along Rt. 82. The city is working with U.S. Representative Jim Renacci’s office to seek funding to make improvements there. “The cemetery started when this was a rural area,” said Community Development Director Tom Jordan. “Now it’s smack-dab in the middle of the city. There are some headstones that are really historic,” he noted.
Originally, when the cemetery was established, an association was set up. According to the History of North Royalton, 1811-1991, “When a family member died, that family became a part of the association with dues of one dollar a year.” An annual fund-raising dinner also took place until 1927, when the village took over the duties. The North Royalton Cemetery, located on the north side of Royalton Road between Ridge and State Roads, was founded in 1866 as the Royalton Road Cemetery. Although the first official resting place of North Royalton’s first residents was on the city’s green, by the 1860s the plot was neglected. The new cemetery was then opened. The original inhabitants were then moved there. In 1879 it was designated as one of the most picturesque in Cuyahoga County.
To date, there are 4,720 graves that are occupied. Jason Swim, Director of the city’s Parks and Recreation, is responsible for the cemetery. He said that currently there are 250-300 plots available. Each plot can accommodate up to two full sized caskets, one casket and four cremations, or up to six cremations. Recently Swim and Council President Larry Antoskiewicz physically inventoried and examined all plots that had standard issue stones. Through a grant provided by the Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission’s Memorial Affairs Department, those stones may be replaced or repaired and/or reset, at no cost to the city, or the families. The Cuyahoga County Veterans Service Commission, is legislated by the state of Ohio and funded by county property taxes. It was established to assist honorably discharged veterans and their families.
About 300-400 stones were identified, said Swim. He said that about a third of them are in need of attention, with about thirty needing replacement. He would also like to see if cleaning could take place. “Many of these stones are 40, 50, 60 years old.” The list has been completed and Jordan will submit the list, waiting to see what work will be completed. According to Swim, North Royalton is the first community to take advantage of this benefit.
Antoskiewicz said that while going through the cemetery, he was intrigued at what a lesson in history it became. He noted that the city’s founding residents were well represented, when many names, such as Edgerton and Akins being seen. “I didn’t realize, for such a small cemetery, that almost every ward since the revolutionary war and every branch of service was represented,” he said.
The North Royalton Cemetery is open from 7 a.m. to sunset, daily. Office hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call Jason Swim at 440-237-4866.
Contributing Writer