This site looks like nothing more than a vacant, L-shaped lot behind the old Red Barn restaurant on Broadview and Spring Roads in Brooklyn.  With graves dating back to at least 1821, this cemetery was once part of a private burial plot on the Brainard Family farm.  Over the years, it's had many names--Brainard Burying Ground, Brainard Cemetery, Broadview Cemetery, and, most recently, the Brooklyn Union Burial Ground.

Very few markers remain, and those that do exist are mostly illegible from years of vandalism and environmental corrosion.



Below, the original, narrow driveway behind a row of houses leading to the cemetery's "entrance."




According to records obtained by the Historical Society of Old Brooklyn (HSOB), which has been maintaining the cemetery for the last 10 years, this cemetery holds the graves of some of Brooklyn's pioneers, including the Brainard and Chester Families.  It is believed that Simeon Chester, who died in 1821 at the age of 61, is the first person buried here.

To its credit, the HSOB has made some sincere efforts to preserve what little is left of this cemetery, and held a "rededication" ceremony in July 2002.  Below is a pretty monument to memorialize the occasion.

Some speculate that this cemetery contains the mass graves of unidentified victims of a flood in the Cuyahoga Valley.  This statement is hard to confirm, since there is some confusion as to the dates of the flood in question (Kathryn Wilmer's book on Old Brooklyn claims the flood happened in the 1890's, but, as the HSOB points out, the most notable flood that would have resulted in mass fatalities occurred in 1913).  

Another mass grave is purported to exist here--that of drowning victims from a boating accident on Lake Erie.

Research into both of these stories could not verify the existence of such graves.

So what happened to so many of the missing graves?  Many of the original markers were made of wood or limestone, which quickly deteriorated.  Years ago, city workers may have also buried markers while tending the property.

Some have also debated whether the nearby Red Barn and a gas station were built over existing graves.  For instance, the Fleck family plot is believed to be located underneath an old billboard sign.

Furthermore, during the late 1800's/early 1900's, it was quite popular for families of the deceased to dig up their dearly departed and rebury them in larger, more attractive cemeteries nearby, including Brookmere Cemetery.  As Lynette Filips of the HSOB writes :

"Disinterment was not an easy task in the days when there were no concrete vaults to protect the wooden caskets.  Clay near the surface of the soil caused rainwater to collect around the casket, and eventually the water so deteriorated the casket that removing it in one piece was impossible.  Fragments of wood on the ground were a sure sign that someone had been exhumed recently."

Since that time, the abandoned cemetery became a popular playground for neighborhood kids.   The children's misuse of the cemetery most likely led to the posting of this sign.



For more information about the Old Brooklyn Burial Ground, check out the Ohio Cemetery Preservation Society's website, which includes Ms. Filips' great, informative article.

Also check out this Sun Newspaper article on the cemetery.