AVON LAKE — Legend has it that the bodies of two sailors who died during the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie washed ashore and were buried in unmarked graves at the site of the city’s Lake Shore Cemetery.
Now efforts are under way to generate money to purchase a memorial marker in their honor that would be dedicated during a ceremony planned for Sept. 8, two days shy of the battle’s 200th anniversary.
The Avon Lake Historical Society has begun a campaign to generate $800 for a marble marker that would be placed flush to the ground to commemorate the seamen whose final resting place is said to be within the cemetery, which wasn’t used officially as a burial ground until 1822.
“There are plenty of people who we are certain are buried there who have no marking of any kind, but we do have the plot plan of the cemetery and know of places where someone is said to be buried,” according to John Shondel, a city councilman and member of the city’s historical society.
Shondel acknowledged there is no way to conclusively verify the existence of the sailor’s graves or any details surrounding their lives or circumstances of their deaths.
“It’s simply a matter of older folks told younger folks that during the War of 1812 a couple of seamen washed ashore and were taken up the cliff and buried there,” Shondel said. “It’s a story that’s been handed down.”
The Battle of Lake Erie was waged Sept. 10, 1813, and saw Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry leading nine ships against a British force of six vessels commanded by Britain’s Robert Barclay.
The British had wrested control of Lake Erie from the Americans after the fall of Detroit in August 1812, and the Sept. 10 battle was an attempt to regain American naval superiority of the lake.
Perry and Barclay engaged each other’s ships in waters off Put-In-Bay where Perry captured the entire British naval squadron and secured control of Lake Erie for the duration of the war at a cost of 27 lives and nearly 100 wounded.
British forces suffered 41 dead, more than 90 wounded, and just over 300 sailors captured.
Since there is no way of knowing whether the pair of sailors said to be buried at Lake Shore Cemetery are American or British, or both, plans call for American and British flags to be part of the marker’s dedication, Shondel said.
A sketch of the marker bears the inscription: “This memorial is dedicated to two seamen who perished during the Battle of Lake Erie, September 10, 1813, and according to legend, are buried in these grounds. Their names, rank and citizenry are known only to God. May they rest in peace.”
Donations, which are tax-deductible, may be made to: Avon Lake Historical Society (USF), 33344 Lake Road, Avon Lake, OH 44012.
Donors are asked to make all donations by Aug. 1 and to include email addresses so they may be informed of progress in the fundraising effort.
To learn more, contact Councilman John Shondel at (440) 930-6838 by mail at 410 Greenbriar Drive, Avon Lake, OH 44012, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or email@example.com.