Officials at Green Lawn Cemetery have issued a public notice that lists the names of approximately 150 cemetery land owners. They want to recover the lots, where the burial rights have been abandoned for 50 years. On the list is Samuel Prescott Bush, the patriarch of the Bush political family.
Many famous residents of central Ohio and Columbus are buried in Green Lawn Cemetery: Former Governor James A. Rhodes, World War I Ace Eddie Rickenbacker, Comedian James Thurber .
The same is true of Samuel Prescott Bush, the former chairman of Buckeye Steel and the grandfather of the late President George HW Bush, and the great-grandfather of former President George W. Bush.
And, it turns out that Samuel Prescott Bush owned a lot with 14 burial sites in Green Lawn, a fact that the extended Bush family apparently knows nothing about.
Samuel Prescott Bush died in 1948. He was one of some 150 lot owners at Green Lawn listed in a recent public notice indicating that the cemetery intended to recover the interment rights for these lots, which had been abandoned for 50 years.
Any other names on the list? William Oxley Thompson, Ohio State University’s fifth president, died 1933. John G. Deshler, builder of the Deshler Hotel, a landmark in downtown Columbus from 1916 to 1969.
Also, the city of Columbus. And the house of the friendless.
After the notice was published, nearly a dozen people called the cemetery to ask about the lots, said Randy Rogers, president of the Green Lawn Cemetery Association.
“If the next of kin enlist, the family renews the contract, that’s good for another 50 years,” Rogers said.
Sometimes cemetery officials want these lots to provide buffer zones around important sites, such as the Bush site. Other times, they might want the site so they can plant trees, Rogers said.
In an extreme case, a man bought 12 seats in the 1850s and never used them, Rogers said.
“One guess is he moved west,” Rogers said.
It took about 15 to 20 hours to go through the batch books to try to determine which batches were abandoned, he said.
Another person who found out that an extended family member had purchased land that was never used is Kevin Schoedinger, a family member who owns the local funeral homes with that name; he is executive vice-president. Schoedinger is also vice-president of the cemeteries association.
He said John Albert Schoedinger bought the lot in the 1930s.
“We have lost track of it,” he said. His father and two uncles have the rights to the site, he said.
It’s not that Green Lawn Cemetery is short of space, although 154,000 bodies are buried there. Of its 360 acres, 70 still need to be developed. The cemetery was founded on August 2, 1848.
Rogers expects Green Lawn to have enough space that it won’t be retired for another 100 years.