Woodland Cemetery is one of my favorite places in Dayton. I’ve always loved wandering around cemeteries (yes, I’m weird like that), and Woodland is just…amazing. But don’t just take my word for it:
Woodland’s awesomeness was recently recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior, which, on Nov. 22, 2011, added Woodland’s 105-acre Victorian section to the National Register of Historic Places (see Dayton Daily News 12/14/2011 and 12/18/2011, also Woodland’s press release).
This is actually Woodland’s second entry on the National Register; the Romaneqsue style chapel (built in 1889) was added in 1978.
Woodland Cemetery opened in 1843—for more history of the cemetery, visit their web site or the Dayton Metro Library Local History Room—and since then has become the final resting place of many of Dayton’s most prominent citizens, including the Wright Brothers, Charles F. Kettering, Edward Deeds, John H. Patterson, and Benjamin Van Cleve.
However, according to the Dayton Daily News (12/18/2011):
Although remains of many prominent citizens are buried or rest in crypts at Woodland, [President and chief executive Dave] FitzSimmons said the Historic Register’s selection was based on the cemetery’s notable “curvilinear” design by landscape architect Adolph Strauch (1822-83), who took advantage of the vistas created by the rolling wooded terrain. He was a proponent of what came to be known as the Rural Garden Cemetery Movement.
The winding paths of Woodland are indeed a sight to behold. I have taken my camera to the cemetery a few times, usually looking for some particular grave, but I’m always amazed by the scenery in general. Without further adieu, here are some of my favorite scenes and “residents” of Woodland:
Benjamin Van Cleve held many important public positions, including clerk of courts, in the early days of Dayton. His son John W. Van Cleve was similarly important. (Check out the Van Cleve-Dover Collection at Dayton Metro Library.)
Charlie Bickham — son of Dayton Journal editor W. D. Bickham — served in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine-American War and was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor. He wasn’t bad to look at either. (Check out the Bickham Collection at DML.)
I’m probably throwing you a curve ball with this one. A. W. Drury wrote one of my favorite local history reference books: History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio, 2 vols. (1909).
Samuel Forrer was the Resident Engineer for the Miami-Erie Canal. To give you an idea of how important that made him to the project, here’s some trivia: when the canal opened in Dayton in 1829, “the Forrer” was the second canal boat to arrive, second only to the “Gov. Brown” (named for Ohio governor Ethan A. Brown who was a major influence in getting Ohio’s canal projects started). I am currently in the process of organizing the Forrer-Peirce-Wood Collection (which you probably already know, if you’ve been reading my blog long!), which includes many of Samuel’s papers, as well as those of several of his descendants.
You were probably expecting me to show you the graves of some of more well-known “crowd pleasers” like the Wright Brothers, Dunbar, Johnny Morehouse, J. H. Patterson, Deeds, Kettering, Cooper, or even Zeigler. Oh, I have pics of most of those too (just click the links), but I said I wanted to highlight some of my “favorite” people. I suppose they become my favorites because I’ve “spent so much time with them” — or, with their writings, or their lives. I become very interested in the people whose “stuff” I am organizing. It’s hard not to; you’re basically reading their diary (sometimes literally).
And now, a couple more simple scenes:
And I have tons more…check out my Woodland Cemetery Flickr set to see the rest.