CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — A nearly 250-year-old gravestone, found on the bank of the Cuyahoga River in Cuyahoga Falls last month and predating the Western Reserve, will be shown to the public next month at an open house held by the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society.
The headstone, etched with the name Thadius Peck (1711-1781), was discovered by Richard and John Ryan on April 18 as they were walking along the river looking for an old fishing spot. The two came across an "odd-shaped stone" in a clearing across from the river and took a closer look. They cleaned off the muck and moss that had grown on it, and realized it wasn't just a flat rock but a headstone for someone who had been dead for 241 years.
The stone is so old, it predates the founding of Cuyahoga Falls by three decades. It's even older than the Connecticut Western Reserve's settlement in the area that was founded in 1796.
Here's a map of the Western Reserve from the 1840s. Peck's headstone is around 60 years older.
“As a lifelong resident of the City of Cuyahoga Falls, I have always been intrigued with the founding of our city and how it came to be,” said Mayor Don Walters. “I am hopeful that this discovery can shed additional light on who once occupied the area that is now our city and when.”
After finding it, Richard and John contacted Shawn Andrews, who is a volunteer and board member with the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society.
“We know that the Peck surname is an early surname associated with the Western Reserve in the Cuyahoga Falls area with Sherman Peck as the city’s first Marshall and Julius S. Peck, who owned a large parcel of land downriver near the Gorge,” said Andrews. “The Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society is excited to continue researching the provenance of Thadius Peck’s stone.”
The historical society then reached out to the University of Akron, which in turn, reached out to Maeve Marina, a historical archaeologist with the Stewards of Historical Preservation. The historical society also contacted Dr. John A. Peck with the Department of Geosciences.
The City of Cuyahoga Falls got involved and reached out to the Army Corps of Engineers and it was learned that permission wasn't needed to remove the stone from the riverbank. The Cuyahoga Calls Fire Department removed the stone from the riverbank on Monday.
Krista Horrocks, a cemetery preservationist from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, is working with the city to look into Thadius Peck's history and how his gravestone came to rest on the riverbank.
The 200-pound stone was later taken to the historical society to be displayed. If you're interested in seeing the stone, you can visit the historical society, located at 2083 Cook St., on June 12 during the open house from 2 to 4 p.m.
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