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Sep 13

The Chattanooga Mausoleum

It has stood for nearly a century, located near Chattanooga, Ohio, just west of Zion Lutheran Cemetery on Tama Road. Situated on the edge of a field and once considered a modern form of burial, it is the final resting place for nearly 40 former area residents. The structure is the Chattanooga Mausoleum, built about 1915.

Chatt Mausoleum. (2000 photo by Karen)

Chattanooga Mausoleum. (2000 photo by Karen)

Mausoleums, such as the Taj Mahal in India, were built centuries ago as tombs for the dead, but lost popularity after Christianity became prominent. They seemed to gain popularity again after the death of Prince Albert in 1861, when his widow Queen Victoria ordered that a mausoleum be built for them at Frogmore. Their elaborate mausoleum was completed in 1871.

Today the Chattanooga Mausoleum is one of only three mausoleums in Mercer County. The others are both in Celina, one at North Grove Cemetery and the other at the Catholic Cemetery.

Mausoleum at North Grove Cemetery, Celina, Ohio. (2005 photo by Karen)

Mausoleum at North Grove Cemetery, Celina, Ohio. (2005 photo by Karen)

Mausoleum at the Catholic Cemetery, Celina, Ohio. (2005 photo by Karen)

Mausoleum at the Catholic Cemetery, Celina, Ohio. (2005 photo by Karen)

What many people probably don’t realize is that the Chattanooga Mausoleum never belonged to Zion Lutheran Church nor is it part of Zion Cemetery. It belonged to the Chattanooga Mausoleum Association, originally comprised of some of those that established the mausoleum and their successors. My great-grandfather Jacob Miller was one of the original Mausoleum Association members.

Chattanooga mausoleum Association Certificate of Ownership, Jacob Miller, 1916.

Chattanooga Mausoleum Association Certificate of Ownership, Jacob Miller, 1916.

This is to certify that Jacob Miller having paid in full therefor is entitled to the exclusive ownership and control of Compartments No. 5 and 6, Section F on West side of the Compartment Mausoleum No…….erected under the patents and plans of construction of the Ohio Mausoleum Company at Chattanooga, Ohio, and we hereby grant and convey full title to same, subject to the rules and regulations of the Chattanooga Mausoleum Association. In Witness Whereof the Chattanooga Mausoleum Association has caused this certificate to be signed and issued by its duly authorized officers this 20 day of Nov A.D. 1916.
THE CHATTANOOGA MAUSOLEUM ASSOCIATION, H.C. Baker, President, S. A. Bollenbacher, Secretary.
Number of Compartments 2. Number of Certificate 13.

The Chattanooga Mausoleum was built by Henry Baker and Samuel and Ed Bollenbacher in about 1915. [1]

The land deed for the mausoleum property shows that Henry C. & Margaret Baker sold the land to the Chattanooga Mausoleum Association for $100 on 1 December 1916 and the transaction was recorded on 22 January 1917. The mausoleum property dimensions are 100 by 60 feet, with the 60 feet being along Tama Road. Interesting that the only stipulation in the deed about maintenance was that Chattanooga Mausoleum Association and their successors were “to keep in repair all fence on the line of said above described real estate on the north and west sides so that said fence is satisfactory for use of any farm stock which may be in the adjoining field or fields.”  Anton Koch and John H. Kable were witnesses to the deed. [2]

Dedicate Mausoleum
The dedication of the new Mausoleum of Chattanooga Sunday afternoon was largely attended, indicating the deep interest taken in that community in this modern manner of burial. The building is one of the finest in this section of the state being built of stone with marble interior and decorated in mural paintings. The dedicatory address was made by Rev. M.C. Howey, of Lima, who held his audience in close attention. He was followed in an address by Rev. Egger who spike in German. Music was furnished by a male quartette and the Evangelical choir.
[3]

The Chattanooga Mausoleum is kept locked but is opened on Memorial Day for visitors. The building has a light marble interior and some stained glass windows. I have been inside the mausoleum a couple times and have taken a few photos but I have not recorded the names inscribed on the vaults. Not all the vaults have been used and some of the bodies have been removed and interred elsewhere.

Interior of Chattanooga Mausoleum. (2013 photo by Karen)

Interior of Chattanooga Mausoleum. (2013 photo by Karen)

The first interment in the Chattanooga Mausoleum appears to have been that of Owen Sapp in 1915. There were several interments soon after: Joseph Schmidt in 1916, John Baumgartner, Carrie Bollenbacher, and Salena Laudahn in 1917, and my great-grandfather Jacob Miller in 1918. Jacob’s wife Christena (Rueck) Miller was laid to rest there in 1945. The last interment was Clarence Linn in 1980. [4]  

Vaults inside Chattanooga Mausoleum. (2013 photo by Karen)

Vaults inside Chattanooga Mausoleum. (2013 photo by Karen)

The Mercer County Cemetery Inscription book lists 41 mausoleum interments. I cross-checked those names on Find A Grave.com and it appears that three bodies have been moved: Vernon R. Bollenbacher (1907-1930), moved beside his parents in North Grove Cemetery, Celina; Philip Linn (1841-1920) and his wife Margaret (Miller) Linn (1847-1924), moved to Swamp College west of Celina. [5] Margaret (Miller) Linn was my great-grandfather Jacob Miller’s sister.

There are two additional vault inscriptions that are not listed in Mercer County’s cemetery book: Stella May Height (1890-1960) and George I. Height (1864-1959). George Height’s obituary indicates that he was to be buried in the Chattanooga Cemetery. [6] George and Stella are not buried in Zion’s cemetery but they were probably once interred in the mausoleum and later moved. Find a Grave.com indicates they are buried in Ridge Cemetery, Middle Point, Ohio.

I also compared the mausoleum records with Zion’s records and found three more persons that are supposedly buried in the mausoleum, per the church records: Viola Kable (1910-1921), Walter Kable (1906-1921), and Mary Catherine Carr (1921-1922). I searched for these names on Find A Grave but did not find their tombstones listed. However, Mary Catherine Carr’s name is inscribed on her parents’ tombstone at Zion Cemetery. Her parents were J. Homer and Leona Carr.

Only one member of the Chattanooga Mausoleum Association remains today [a successor, not an original member] and there are no funds available to maintain the building. In the summer of 2013 the Liberty Township trustees took possession of the Chattanooga Mausoleum and are now responsible for it.

 

[1] Mercer County Chapter OGS, compiler, Mercer  County, Ohio, Cemetery Inscriptions, Vol. VI, Blackcreek, Hopewell, and Liberty Townships, (Celina, Ohio : Privately printed, 1990), p.73.

[2] Mercer County Deed Books, Vol. 103: 530, Mercer County Recorder, Celina, Ohio.

[3] Dedicate Mausoleum, The Willshire Herald, Willshire, Ohio, 21 July 1916, p. 1.

[4] Mercer County Chapter, Mercer County, Ohio, Cemetery Inscriptions, Volume VI, 73.

[5] Find A Grave.com (www.findagrave.com : accessed 12 September 2013).

[6] George Height obituary, The Lima News, Lima, Ohio, 27 March 1959, digital image by subscription Ancestry.com, (www.ancestry.com  : accessed 12 September 2013.), p. 2.

 

6 comments

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  1. Waldo

    Amazing that so little is generally known about this structure. As you note, the common perception is that it belongs to the cemetery. Obviously there is almost no resource available in the area for a casual visitor to discover otherwise. Apparently the building has been the target of pranks, vandals and other sneaking individuals over the years resulting in the need to keep it locked, which is a shame, though common for unattended structures in cemeteries everywhere.

    Thank you for researching and sharing this information. While I was aware of Great Grandfather Jacob and Great Grandmother Christina (yours and mine) being entomb there, this is the first I have heard of his sister. Very interesting. Have to wonder why in the mausoleum rather than the cemetery, but then the “modern” aspect of the new type of burial may have been especially appealing for some reason.

  2. Waldo

    With 40 entombed there, is there not some means to assess a fund for care of the building? In Europe even the graves in the ground are only maintained as long as the family continues to pay for the maintenance, then the space is given to someone else. Not sure what they do with the “expired” remains, but clearly they get discarded some way.

    There are lots of empty spaces, can they not be sold?

    What kind of costs are necessary? A little roof work once a decade? Couple of window repairs here and there? Or are we talking salaries for “overseer?” Since the bodies are nearly all from the church, why does the church not take over?

    I would chip in a few bucks here and there for Great Grandma and Great Grandpa, espcecially if I could get access once in a while other than Memorial Day when there are so many other places to attend. This unique and special building is a very important part of Chatt and the cemetery, doesn’t anyone recognize the need?

    1. Karen

      Right now the mausoleum roof needs some major repairs. The Mausoleum Association and Zion Chatt looked at several options for repairing and maintaining the mausoleum. It was decided that the best course of action would be for the township to take possession of the building.

      I compared the mausoleum records with Zion’s records and found three more persons that are supposedly buried there, per the church records: Viola Kable (1910-1921), Walter Kable (1906-1921), and Mary Catherine Carr (1921-1922). I searched for these names on Find A Grave but did not find their tombstones listed. However, Mary Catherine Carr’s name is inscribed on her parents’ tombstone at Zion Cemetery. Her parents were J. Homer and Leona Carr. I also added this information to the blog post.

      Of the nearly 40 interred in the mausoleum, it appears that 19 were members of Zion Lutheran, Chatt. That number includes the three I just located in the church records. Two of those (the Linns) were moved to another location. So, less than half of those entombed there were members of Zion.

  3. Brian Brewster

    Owen and Della(Showalter) Sapp are my grandmaother Kathryn Blacks Aunt and Uncle. I have been in the structure a few times.

    1. Karen

      That is interesting! I read a newspaper clipping about the auto accident that killed Owen Sapp in 1915. He was with Fred Bailey and Win Brewster. He obviously knew Winfield Scott Brewster! It makes you wonder what connections brought the Sapps to the Chattanooga Mausoleum.

  4. Waldo

    How many empty cells (units) remain in the mausoleum? Does each hold two caskets? Can they be obtained (bought)? How did Linn get in there in 1980?

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