|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
The skeletal ruins of St. Peter’s Catholic Church along with the several dozen tombstones are all that remain of the “Old Stone Church” and its cemetery which was once the centerpiece of a once thriving community located in the hills of Salt Lick Township in Perry County.
Construction of the stone church started in 1845 as a continuation of the “Monday Creek Mission” and was recorded as “under roof” in 1849 when Father J. J. Slevin celebrated Mass for the first time. The “Old Stone Church” was dedicated to God under the patronage of St. Peter and was one of the mission churches founded in the 19th century considered to be (at that time) “the cradle of Catholicity in Ohio” by the Catholic Church. Father John S. Hannon celebrated St. Peter’s last Mass on November 23, 1880 – only 30 years after its opening.
During the Civil War, iron ore from the surrounding hills was mined to make cannon balls for the Union Army. According to legend, sometime shortly after the Civil War, a plague struck and wiped out the community. The church fell into disrepair and was closed.
Another version of local history maintains that with the boom of the iron mines, so many Catholics moved into the area that a new church (St. Augustine) was built in 1871 in nearby New Straitsville and St. Peters may have been abandoned. In 1990, the 128-year old St. Augustine Church was razed in New Straitsville, leaving the ruins of St. Peters as the only visible sign of a once prosperous Catholic parish.
The cemetery is located behind the ruins of the church, one mile north on Stone Church Hollow Road (County Rd. 39) from its intersection of Old Town Road (County Rd. 38). There is a path on the right side of the road leading up to the site which sits about 100 yards off of Stone Church Hollow Road.
The site is maintained by the U.S. Forestry Service and is a stop on its “Stone Church Trail” – a 21 mile round-trip horse/walking trail which starts near the intersection of County Roads 38 and 39.