AKRON Ohio (WJW) – The Middlebury Cemetery, in what is currently Akron’s Ward 6, was the area’s first burial plot.
Located in what was the thriving Middlebury Township, which preceded the city of Akron, the land was donated by Revolutionary War Veteran Titus Chapman in 1808.
Chapman died later that same year and may have been the first to be buried in the cemetery.
The cemetery was officially closed in 1853, and 70 years later, when Akron City Council agreed to take over the care of the cemetery, the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a plaque to Chapman and five others buried there who fought in the revolutionary war.
The plaque was mounted on a large boulder in the cemetery but more than 20 years ago it mysteriously vanished.
“There are a lot of mysteries surrounding Middlebury cemetery and one enduring mystery will forever be who took that plaque about 25 years ago,” said Dave Lieberth, an Akron historian.
It wasn’t until earlier this year that the missing plaque turned up at an antique store in Western Ohio.
Stephanie Whims, treasurer of the Cuyahoga Portage Chapter DAR, was notified of the find and tried to pick it up in Columbus.
“When I got the plaque I googled the names and each one came up Middlebury cemetery so I thought oh, this is the plaque that’s been missing,” said Whims.
“The only thing I can say is that these tags were on the plaque when i retrieved it and this is telling me that it was in an antique store. Somebody, whoever stole it probably had regrets and it went to an antique store,” she told Fox 8 News.
In October, 100 years after it was originally dedicated and 25 years after it vanished, the plaque was placed on a display back in the Middlebury Cemetery and on Monday it was officially re-dedicated.
“Our veterans have selflessly defended our freedom and liberty and that is a debt that we can never repay,” said Horrigan.
The six soldiers memorialized on the plaque are Titus Chapman, Lambert Clement, Isaac Dudley, William Neal, Thomas Sumner, and Hosea Wilcox Jr.
On Monday the city also honoring the memory of a seventh veteran of the 1776 war, Abigail (Mills) Wilcox, wife of Hosea, who was a nurse for the Continental Army, but whose name was not included on the 1923 plaque.
They are among more than 60 revolutionary war veterans buried throughout Summit County.
“The whole point of Veterans Day is to never forget those people who have worn the uniform of the country and put themselves in harm’s way to create our freedoms and liberties, and never was that more true than those men and one woman from Akron who fought in the revolutionary war and set those freedoms ablaze,” said Lieberth.