“Where is Dorothy Love buried?”, asked 10-year-old Mallory Hughes more than a year ago. The question seemed simple enough. After all, Dorothy Love is a well-known historical figure whose parents were prominent members of the Sidney community for more than two decades. However, like so many quests of a historical nature, the answer was not as readily available as one might imagine.
What started as a simple question as preparations were being made for the Shelby County Historical Society’s first-ever tour of historic downtown Sidney churches mushroomed into what has become a year-long search for the final resting place of little Dorothy Love. Hughes first asked the question as she was preparing to share the history of the First Presbyterian Church and its congregation through the eyes of Dorothy Love and was determined to learn as much as she could about the character she would portray.
Using the play as the instrument of history was the idea of First Presbyterian Church Pastor the Rev. Diana Circelli. Little did Hughes know that when she asked the question, the answer would be quite so elusive.
Not long after she asked the question, the query was forwarded to me. I have been busily engaged in researching topics for the “Encyclopedia of Sidney History,” a work I hope to have completed in time for Sidney’s bicentennial celebration in 2020. At the time, one more thing to research didn’t seem like a big deal. After all, it couldn’t take all that long. The answer ought to be easily found and would be an interesting fact I could include in the finished book.
Born March 4, 1914, Dorothy Amanda Love was the daughter of the Rev. Wilbert Blake Love and his wife, Daisy B. (Ramsey) Love. Widely respected, Rev. Love was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. The Love family resided in the manse next to the church, the building currently occupied by the Gateway Arts Council.
The members of the congregation had a deep affection for Dorothy. Among those who doted on the little child were Moses Russell and his sisters, Martha and Elizabeth. In fact, having never married and with no children of their own, the trio had decided that they would fund Dorothy’s college education.
All of that changed on Thursday, May 21, 1921. Seven-year old Dorothy left Central School when classes were dismissed at 11:30 a.m., first running to the front of the classroom to hug and kiss her teacher, Miss Collia Smoot, as was often her custom.
Playing with some other children, Dorothy ran across North Street directly in front of a car being operated by William Rike of Port Jefferson. Rike was on his way home after conducting business in Sidney.
Dorothy was struck and seriously injured. A passerby picked Dorothy up, placed the still conscious girl in Rike’s car, and she was rushed to the office of Dr. H.E. Beebe. She died shortly after.
Unfortunately, her parents had left earlier in the morning and were traveling to Winona Lake, Indiana, for a meeting of the National Presbyterian General Assembly. Dorothy had been left in the care of Mrs. Emory C. Mumford and Mrs. E.F. Ruese.
After Dorothy’s death, her body was returned to the manse to be prepared for burial. Communication being far less instant than today, it took hours to reach her parents. Rev. Love and his wife were eventually contacted by Sidney bank executive William A. Graham. Upon learning of their daughter’s death, they immediately began their sad trip back to Sidney.
A private funeral was held for little Dorothy, Saturday, May 23, at 4:30 p.m. in the manse. The Rev. G.H. Gibson, of Delphos, and the Rev. J.H. Gross, of Boston, Massachusetts, presided, attempting to comfort the grieving parents. Immediately following the service, Dorothy’s body was taken to Graceland for burial. The pall bearers were Dorothy’s four uncles, including Mrs. Love’s brothers Charles Ramsey, E.O. Ramsey, and W.P. Ramsey, and Rev. Love’s brother, A.W. Love. Dorothy’s coffin was placed in the lower right-hand crypt of the Sexauer family mausoleum.
Still today, the crypt remains unmarked, and so the question remains, is Dorothy interred there? A search of cemetery records by Cemetery Superintendent Luke Voisard seemed to support the she remains interred at the Sidney cemetery. There is a record in Voisard’s office that the coffin containing Dorothy’ earthly remains was placed in the crypt. There is no record that the coffin has ever been removed.
However, when Voisard contacted Amy Sexauer-Pacyga , the member of the Sexauer family who takes care of the family mausoleum, she indicated that her records reflect that seven chambers of the family mausoleum are occupied by members of the Sexauer family, with the eighth chamber, that in the lower right-hand corner, reserved for her brother.
In a more recent, follow-up conversation, Sexauer-Pacyga indicated that she had never heard the story that Dorothy Love had ever been interred there. “Why would she have been interred there?” was her eventual question.
I speculated that her family, members of which included well-known Sidney grocers, bakers and a former mayor, may have offered their tomb out of compassion for the family. Members of the clergy were not well-paid, the family was originally from Pennsylvania and the plan may well have been to eventually move the body to a more permanent resting place.
The idea of such a story is, after all, Biblical. Joseph of Arimathea offered his tomb as the resting place for Jesus following his crucifixion.
Interestingly, there is a grave marker for Dorothy Love adjacent to the graves of her parents, who are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Butler County, Pennsylvania. Cemetery caretaker Roger Constantino insisted that she must be buried there next to her parents. Unfortunately, there are no records indicating when she may have been interred there.
It would seem likely that her body would have been moved at the time her parents purchased the grave site in which they are interred, but unfortunately Constantino has no records as to when that transaction took place either. Rev. Love died in 1953. Mrs. Love died in 1960.
“Where is Dorothy Love buried?” As the second-annual tour of churches draws near, the question that seemed so simple when asked more than a year ago remains.
Dorothy Love’s memory, of course, lives on. Ohio Living Dorothy Love is the result of the Russell family’s grief. Having already determined to pay for Dorothy’s education, they made plans to give their farm as a place where a home for orphaned children could be built in Dorothy’s memory. When that proved impracticable, they agreed that a home for the aged and infirm would be appropriate.
Luke Gronneberg | Sidney Daily News