AURELIUS TWP. - He's 82 years old now, but Charlie Schob still sojourns into the hills of Adams and Aurelius townships in Washington County to visit the graves of German ancestors buried in two cemeteries there.
"I've come here at least once every year since I was discharged from the military after the Korean War," Schob said recently as he climbed the long narrow trail to Liberty Hill Cemetery near Highland Ridge Road.
At the top of the hill a rusted gate from the fence that used to surround the graveyard now leans against a nearby tree. The cemetery itself, consisting of about 70 graves, seemed fairly well maintained, although there is no discernible road leading into the property.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Charlie Schob stands by one of his German ancestor’s gravestones in the Hill Grove Cemetery in Adams Township.
"I think most of the people buried here probably had to be hauled up by a horse and cart," Schob said.
None of the graves are recent, with most dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Schob pointed out one of the larger gravestones bearing the names of Joseph and Emily Dixon.
"They were my great-grandparents, most of the family were basically farmers," he said. "My grandfather said years ago there was farm after farm after farm that belonged to the Dixons in this area."
The family name now graces nearby Dixon Ridge Road, where the much smaller Hill Grove Cemetery is located.
Hill Grove contains approximately 20 graves, most related to the Schob and Dixon families.
One of the taller monuments bore the names of another set of Schob's great grandparents- Traugott Gottlieb Schob, who was born in 1824 and died in 1882, and his wife Ernestine Schau Schob, who was born 1836 and died in 1908.
"My ancestors were probably all born in Germany," Schob said. "I once did some research at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., to find out what part of the country they were from, and I was told most had come from far eastern Germany in an area that is now part of Poland."
He tried to further trace the family origins through the Polish Embassy, but didn't have much success.
Those buried in the cemeteries were long gone when Schob was born, but he still feels a connection to them - fostered mainly by his father, Earl D. Schob, who served as mayor of Marietta from 1940-1948.
"My father wasn't a religious man in the spiritual sense, but he was religious in attending to the final resting place of his ancestors," Schob said. "I think he appreciated their lives and what they did for him."
As a youngster Schob accompanied his father on annual visits to the cemeteries.
"He would often bring the county auditor along, too," he said. "It was his way to be sure the cemeteries were kept in good shape."
If a cemetery was not being properly maintained, the township officials would no doubt hear about it from the auditor.
Schob admits that, as a young man, visiting the graveyards wasn't a favorite pastime. But now he enjoys carrying on his father's legacy, and making sure their ancestors continue to rest in peace.