LAWRENCE TOWNSHIP - Located just off Washington County 17 in Lawrence Township, a green street sign that displays Ludwig Cemetery stands on the same location that a church once did.
The cemetery is on the land that belonged to Jacob Ludwig, according to Kurt Ludwig, a local historian and descendant of Jacob Ludwig.
"My great grandfather Jacob came from Germany in 1850," he said. "He and my great grandmother Magaretha settled on the land shortly after arriving in the United States."
Photo by Christian Hudspeth
Kurt Ludwig, local historian, stands next to his great grandfather’s grave in Ludwig Cemetery in Lawrence Township.
Based on Ludwig's research, in 1858 his great-grandfather sold a half-acre of his property to the Evangelical Protestant St. Jacob Church trustees, which was turned into a cemetery.
"I discovered a detailed draft written in 1859 that described how the cemetery was for those of the protestant evangelical faith from around the area," said Ludwig.
The earliest marked burial in the cemetery was in 1863, he said.
The website Findagrave.com shows that Ludwig Cemetery has 22 marked interments and the last burial recorded was in 1964.
Ludwig said there are many more than 22 people buried in the cemetery, but that most are unmarked graves.
"I suspect there were burials even before 1863 because many times children who died young were buried in unmarked graves," he said. "Many families had children die in infancy. For example my great-grandparents had three of their 14 children die as infants."
Several years after the initial purchase of the cemetery the church purchased another half-acre to build a place of worship.
"The documents I've seen lead me to believe that the church was built around 1867," he said. "It was located only a few feet away from the cemetery."
As time passed, the congregation's population declined and eventually the church and cemetery were abandoned, according to Ludwig.
With no one to take proper care of it, the church building fell into disrepair until it was eventually torn down.
"The building stood until around 1970 when it was deemed unsafe," said Ludwig. "It was dismantled to prevent anyone from being injured if it were to collapse."
The cemetery itself remains, but it hasn't seen a burial since 1964.
The most activity the cemetery had as of late was reported vandalism 15 years ago.
"In 1998 someone went into the cemetery and damaged around eight headstones by breaking or knocking them over," said Ludwig.
Ownership of the cemetery and the land that it sits upon currently remains a mystery.
During his research Ludwig was only able to uncover the original deed stating that the land was the property of the Evangelical Protestant St. Jacob Church trustees.
"Since the trustees and the church itself are no more, I don't really know who owns the land," he said.
Dave Lauer, Lawrence Township trustee, has said the township has no records or deeds regarding ownership of any of the cemeteries in the area.
Lauer said Lawrence Township Trustees pay to have all of the cemeteries in the area mowed, but do not pay for upkeep other than that.
Those looking to be potentially buried in the cemetery are out of luck, according to Ludwig.
"When I spoke with the township trustees they said there was no record of the unmarked graves in Ludwig Cemetery," he said. "They aren't even certain if there would be any plots available in the small cemetery so they aren't able to give someone permission to be buried there."