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Fund being started after vandalism continues at Royer Chapel

| February 14, 2020

Bricks in honor or in memory of loved ones were sold as a way to raise funds to reconstruct Royer Chapel after it was destroyed by fire. Unfortunately, even the memorial wall has been vandalized. (Submitted)

Don Royer’s relative Anne Royer had a chapel built in 1897 as a tribute to her husband Martin. The chapel in Franklin Township is still standing more than 100 years after first being constructed, but it has unfortunately experienced its share of heartaches.

In December 2002 it was destroyed by arson. Don Royer rebuilt the church with the help of Weaver Construction, but vandalism continues to happen.
“It’s had everything done to it,” Royer said. “I’ve replaced the door because it’s been shot up. It’s always been open though. It’s never been locked, but the doorknob was shot off. I’ve replaced the windows I don’t know how many times.”
Royer’s wife Esther said they were devastated after the fire. “We were married out there on Oct. 30, 1965,” she said.
Don Royer said they had a full house for their wedding. “The original old pews were still there,” he said. “The chapel has been in our family forever. I’ve always been 100 percent involved. It’s part of my family and part of my life.”
After the chapel was burnt down in 2002, a fundraising campaign was started to help with the reconstruction. Bricks were sold in memory or in honor of loved ones, and a memorial wall was created outside the church. Unfortunately vandals also have damaged that wall and the pews, which were rebuilt by Don Royer. Holes also have been smashed into the walls.
“It’s a nice, quiet and serene place to go and sit,” Margaret Lowe said. “My mother was 99 years old when she died last May, and we took a Bible out there that was hers. That chapel had a nice big picture of Anne and Martin Royer, an altar, Madonna, flowers, candlesticks. And everything that’s been out there has been damaged or stolen. The tombstones out there have been knocked over too.”
Esther Royer remembers sitting in the church one day when Don was mowing and realizing an important item was missing. “I looked up at the alter and realized they took the cross,” she said. “After that I wrote property of Royer Chapel on everything.”
She also remembers having to go out in front of Don when he mowed to pick up beer bottles and cans and other junk.
Lowe and Dave Corbett are part of a history discussion group that meets at the Johnson-Humrickhouse Museum. After this last round of vandalism in October 2019, they decided to set up an account at Home Loan. The hope is people will make donations to help with repairs and a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction for individuals that damaged the chapel.
“This is one of the historical spots in our county, and we are trying to preserve it,” Lowe said. “It’s part of our [county] history, and I just don’t understand why people would do this. I’m really sad to see any of these historical monuments vandalized.”
Don Royer said the chapel is supposedly one of the smallest churches out there. “I’d just like to see people respect it as what it is, and that’s a church,” he said.
Lowe can’t help but wonder why people would vandalize the chapel. “What is the purpose?” she said.
Don Royer hopes there is someone out there with knowledge of the vandalism that has a conscience. “The chapel is there for the people,” he said. “You think somebody would say I was out there and saw that idiot do that.”

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Category: Faith

About the Author ()

I started my journalism career in 2002 with a daily newspaper chain. After various stops with them, I am happy to be back home! I graduated from Coshocton High School in 1998 and received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication in 2002 from Walsh University. I also earned several awards while working for daily papers, including being honored by Coshocton County’s veterans for the stories I wrote about them. I am honored and ready to once again shine a positive light on Coshocton County. I also am the proud mother of a little girl named Sophia!

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