On Memorial Day weekend 2003, my family travelled to Washington Township, Brown County, Ohio to visit the Wardlow Cemetery. My dad was quite weak by that time, due to the disease that would take his life less than three months later. We brought a lawn chair for him to sit in because he was so weak and standing was painful for him. However, he struggled to his feet and managed to walk around the cemetery with my eight-year-old niece and me to visit the grave sites of five generations of our family.
We walked to the rear of the cemetery to the oldest gravestone, which belongs to Samuel Wardlaw. Samuel and his wife, Elizabeth Nesbitt Wardlaw, moved from Virginia to Ohio with his parents Robert and Janet Wardlaw, and his brothers and sisters and their spouses. They were among the first settlers in this area and once owned the land where the cemetery is located. Samuel died in 1848. A foot stone marked EW was the only marker of Elizabeth's grave.
Samuel and Elizabeth's son, Levi, and his wife Abby Hall Wardlow are also buried in the cemetery. Some time in Samuel's and Levi's lifetime, the spelling of the family name changed from "Wardlaw" to "Wardlow." Unlike his parents and grandparents who travelled from Virginia to Kentucky and on to Ohio, Levi reportedly never strayed far from the homestead. He is quoted as saying that he had never seen the Ohio River, which was only around 25 miles away. Levi died in 1890 and Abby in 1891.
John Reese Wardlow was Levi and Abby's son. He and his wife, Lulu Dunn Wardlow, are buried near their daughter, Dora Elma Wardlow Ballein and her husband, Noah Hite Ballein. The Wardlow branch of my family were farmers through Elma and Hite's generation. Elma and Hite are buried next to their daughter, Jennie Esther Ballein Davis and her husband, James Quincy Davis. Esther and Quincy Davis were my dad's parents.
Under the canopy of trees covering the cemetery, we visited the graves of aunts, uncles, and cousins, some my dad had known and others he had not. We stood beneath the ancient oak tree that met our ancestors when they came to this burying ground to mourn and honor their loved ones. This was my dad's last visit to the Wardlow Cemetery and I will always remember the effort he made to honor his past.