Shawnee State Forest is home to an old pioneer cemetery, and its story tells of pioneer days in the area. Shawnee State University Professor of History Andrew Feight, Ph.D., and the SSU History Club are dedicated to preserving this landmark.
“Where Moore’s Run exits the river hills of Shawnee State Forest, just off modern-day U.S. Highway 52, near the “100 Mile House,” one finds a particularly significant pioneer era graveyard, which dates back to the first decades of the nineteenth-century when this section of the Shawnee State Forest was first settled, its forested bottom lands cleared for corn and cattle farms and its soon to be famous hillsides first stripped of stone for masonry projects up and down the river,” Feight began.
Moore’s Run is a waterway that flows into the Ohio near the 100 Mile House. The known historical home is said to be 100 miles down river from Point Pleasant, West Virginia and 100 miles upriver from Cincinnati. It is a 37 room private home that was once a popular bed and breakfast. It was originally built by Joseph Moore, who was the first river bottom residence used by steamboat captains as a mileage marker and a navigational landmark. It is from Moore that the Moore’s Run name originates. “According to local lore, the original house, built with local stone, still stands and is located near the Village of Buena Vista, just below Upper Twin Creek on US Highway 52,” Feight added.
Tucked away on this land once owned by Moore is an ancient looking Mitchell-Morrison Cemetery, home to nearly 50 graves of Scioto County’s earliest settlers. Even three common pleas court judges were buried there – Joseph Moore, David Mitchell and William Givens.
“The Mitchell and Morrison of the modern-day name reflect the surnames of neighboring settlers and later owners of the original Moore parcel,” Feight said. “The cemetery was abandoned in the early 20th century, when local burials shifted to the cemeteries at nearby McKendree Chapel and Sandy Springs.”
After centuries, the cemetery aged with crumbling headstones and overgrowth. Both nature and time has taken its toll. In recent years, it has been hit by an ice story that knocked over trees and further damaged what had not decayed.
Feight and the SSU history club has since cleaned up the cemetery and made is viewable for visitors and is in the process of seeing it further appreciated for its historical relevance.
The cemetery is currently surrounded by State owned lands. There is an Ohio Division of Forestry maintained trailhead and parking lot at the site, which provides public assess to the forest.
“Visitors on foot and horseback can access a network of trails that take them deep into a region of the forest known as the Shawnee Backcountry Management Area,” Feight explained.
According to the Ohio Environmental Council has described Moore’s Run and the surrounding BCMA lands is ideal for state wilderness protection.
“If protected by new state-level wilderness legislation, these 8,000 acres would be preserved for recreational and educational use. Once protected from extractive activity, such as commercial logging, mining, drilling, and road building, the additional acreage would double the size of the Shawnee’s ‘Wilderness Area,’ Feight explained. “The Ohio Environmental Council recommendation is for reserving 25 percent of the Shawnee State Forest (some 16,000 acres) as wilderness, leaving some 47,000 acres open to commercial logging activity.”
The Mitchell-Morrison Cemetery is just one more of the many attributes of the Shawnee Forest that give it its magic. These tidbits of history combine with the abundant wilderness.
More information about the cemetery can also be found at the SSU History Club maintained site sciotohistorical.org. The site gives stories and digital tours of more than 100 sites around the area.
Reach Nikki Blankenship at 740-353-3101 ext. 1930.