For decades, this small cemetery knoll (now known as Hickcox Park and "Meditation Hill") lay hidden within marshy woods off of Bagley Road in Middleburg Heights.  Then, in 1995, it was "rediscovered" during the commercial redevelopment of the area to make way for a new strip mall.  Hardly anyone knew that this secret cemetery held the familial remains of Middleburg Heights' first settlers.  It now sits on its original hill, in the middle of a parking lot in front of Regal Cinemas. 

 

 

This cemetery came to our attention after learning that the city's Zoning Inspector filed a complaint against an 80-year-old woman for failing to keep the cemetery properly maintained.  Apparently, the cemetery lost sufficient ground cover and was becoming a bit unsightly.  However, the city never bothered to confirm who owned the cemetery before filing the complaint against this poor lady.  As it turns out, the owner of the cemetery also happens to be buried there!  (See Cleveland Plain Dealer, Sept. 27, 2002, p. B4)

Upon our visit, we noticed that this unmarked plot was recently landscaped.

 

 

At least seven persons are buried here, from the Hepburn and Hickcox families.  Only two original grave markers remain standing at this cemetery.

Below, the Hickcox family plot, with the original stone pillars.  Jared Hickcox is noted as being the first white settler of this area, arriving here by ox team from Connecticut with his son sometime around 1809.

 

The original Hickcox marker.  Jared died in 1810 at the age of 52.  His wife Rachel died 1819 at the age of 61.

 

A new grave marker, with additional details on the Hickcox family.  Jared and Rachel's sons, Azor (Asa) and Nathaniel, died within weeks of each other shortly after arriving here.  Jared was 22, Nathaniel was 30.

 

Below, the Hepburn Family plot.  The family patriarch, Morris Hepburn, was a prominent landowner who purchased the old Hickcox homestead (and most of Middleburgh) from Alijah Bagley in 1854.  The surrounding land has since been known as Hepburn Farm.

 

Morris Hepburn came to the Western Reserve in 1827.  His first wife, Mary, died from consumption in 1834.  Six months later, Morris married 19-year-old Huldon Ann Pease, from Hudson. 

Morris Hepburn is believed to still be the owner of Hepburn cemetery.  He died in 1855 at the age of 56. Ann died on April 13, 1887.  According to their descendants, the Hepburns are buried in this plot, although no grave markers exist for them.  It was willed by the Hepburns that the cemetery remain preserved as it was.  Perhaps this explains why such a wealthy landowner and his wife did not have tombstones.

The only Hepburn marker belongs to their son, Willis, who died in 1865 while en route from Camp Chase shortly after the end of the Civil War.   He was 18-years-old.

Prior to the rediscovery of these gravestones, the last caretaker was Coit Smith.  He quietly tended after this unknown cemetery until his death in 1984. 

 

To the left, a commemorative plaque contains these photographs of the old Hepburn home (now destroyed), as well as a shot of the cemetery in its hidden, neglected state just prior to the commercial excavation in 1995.