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Published: Wednesday, 12/24/2008

Gravestone spurs family to dig up past

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

FOSTORIA - Descendants of Maria Millhime, whose headstone was unearthed this fall at Fostoria Metro Airport, have asked the city to do some more digging.

While they're not convinced Mrs. Millhime's remains are buried at the site, they'd like to know for sure.

"You'd think if there was a headstone, there would be a body under it but we really don't know," said Jan Thibodeau, a Fostoria resident and great-great granddaughter of Mrs. Millhime, who died in 1855.

A history buff and genealogy enthusiast, Mrs. Thibodeau was inspired to begin delving into her mother's family history after the gravestone was discovered in November by an excavating company working at the airport.

The stone was found about 16 inches below ground in an area planned for drainage and runoff from the runway, which is being extended from 4,200 feet to 5,000 feet to accommodate corporate jets that land in Findlay.

The land had once been the Millhime homestead, though it's unclear if Mrs. Millhime and other family members were buried on the property or buried there and later moved to a family plot at the nearby Zion Lutheran Cemetery.

A grave marked for Mary Millhime, with the same dates of birth and death, is located at the cemetery at Seneca County Roads 5 and 592 in Jackson Township.

Mrs. Thibodeau said some family records research showed Mrs. Millhime was of Spanish descent, which would explain the variation of her first name from Maria to Mary. Mrs. Millhime's husband, Jacob, died and was buried in Pennsylvania, she said.

"We don't really have to know, but now that the question has been raised, it's like, 'I wonder what the deal is?'•" she said. "We'll go ahead and see if there's anything there and, if not, then so be it."

Fostoria Mayor John Davoli said any excavation work at the city-owned airport would likely have to await a break in the weather, but he said the city is committed to doing what the family wants.

"We've got to make sure we make it right for them," Mr. Davoli said, adding that he doubts there will be any remains at the site.

"Maybe it's a marker just there with no remains at all - that's the most likely possibility, but we'll do the best we can," he said.



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