Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio: Stones, Symbols and Stories

Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio: Stones, Symbols and Stories

by Vicki Blum Vigil

A guide to more than 150 cemeteries and memorials in 15 counties throughout Northeast Ohio. Shares the fascinating stories of Cleveland's most notable permanent residents, including celebrities, villains, patriarchs, and just plain folks. Gives details about where and when to visit, historical facts, oldest graves, and more.See more details below


A guide to more than 150 cemeteries and memorials in 15 counties throughout Northeast Ohio. Shares the fascinating stories of Cleveland's most notable permanent residents, including celebrities, villains, patriarchs, and just plain folks. Gives details about where and when to visit, historical facts, oldest graves, and more.

Editorial Reviews

The Plain Dealer - Laura DeMarco
[A] surprisingly charming guide . . . In addition to famous gravesites, Vigil has compiled a fascinating array of facts, from the oldest graves to burial customs and more.
Maple Heights Press - April K. Helms
A valuable reference for those interested in local history or local genealogy, and includes addresses, phone numbers and where one can find the cemetery records.
The Plain Dealer
[A] surprisingly charming guide . . . In addition to famous gravesites, Vigil has compiled a fascinating array of facts, from the oldest graves to burial customs and more.
— Laura DeMarco
Ohioana Quarterly
Vigil has been able to parlay her knowledge of genealogy into a book that has something for everyone . . . Engaging local history, information on burial customs, and the stories of ordinary people and their triumphs and tragedies. Vigil’s affection for cemeteries is contagious . . . Great book for back roads travelers on the lookout for interesting sights you can’t catch along the Interstates.
Combines practical information, like how to get there, with history, including profiles of some of the sites’ famous “residents” . . . That Ms. Vigil has a passion for cemeteries is obvious. Her well-crafted prose and hours of research make the locations come alive . . . A must for any fan of Northeast Ohio history.
Record Courier
Surprisingly fascinating, covering 120 cemeteries in 15 counties, including the graves of celebrities and villains.
Maple Heights Press
A valuable reference for those interested in local history or local genealogy, and includes addresses, phone numbers and where one can find the cemetery records.
— April K. Helms

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Gray & Company, Publishers
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Read an Excerpt

Cuyahoga County

Acacia Masonic Memorial Park Mayfield Hts.

Address: 1880 SOM Center Rd. Phone: 440-442-0666 Acres: 44 acres 25 developed Burials: 16,000 First/oldest: 1926 Caretaker: On site Access: Daily dawn–dusk; office Mon–Fri 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Records: On site at the office

Background Land was purchased from Knollwood Cemetery in 1925. The cemetery was established in 1927 and permits burials of Masons, Eastern Star, and their families.

The only upright monument you will see is the Masonic monument toward the back, which is about sixty feet tall. There are veterans from the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and other conflicts.

Your Visit Enjoy the surroundings of this level plot of land and look for these fine folks:

Section B

Roger Peckinpaugh (1891–1977) is best known for being the youngest manager in big-league history and the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 1925. As a shortstop Peckinpaugh played for the Cleveland Naps, the New York Highlanders/Yankees, the Washington Senators and the Chicago White Sox. In 1914 he was manager of the Yankees; he managed the Indians from 1928 to 1933 and again in 1941.

Section B, lot 484

In World War II, Hoyt Scott (1898–1953; lot 484) was assistant to Rear Admiral John Redman, chief of naval communications in the Pacific. Scott was in charge of naval communications in China. His prize possession was a picture of himself with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek. Scott is said to have delivered the eulogy at President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s funeral.

Dr. George R. (1906–1949) and Lillian (1908–1949) Schweitzer were victims of the 1949 Noronic disaster. The Noronic was a passenger steamer on the Great Lakes. A fire broke out in a closet, staff had difficulty locating the key, the passengers were not immediately notified and confusion reigned. One hundred and nineteen people died.

Section C (government veterans stone)

Army Warrant Officer Charles I. Stanley of Cleveland (1946–1969) was one of twenty-two servicemen from the Cleveland area still listed as missing twenty-five years after the Vietnam War ended. At first all the family knew was that Stanley had been in a helicopter crash. From DNA testing done in 1996 at the crash site, it appears that Officer Stanley died when the chopper smashed into the hillside.

Ten years after his disappearance, Stanley’s mother Martha put a headstone for him in the family gravesite here. But prior to the DNA tests the Army had strong suspicions that Stanley had been taken alive. In their efforts to find him, the Army viewed ample footage of prisoners of war and enlisted the family’s help in this regard. Sometimes Stanley’s parents were flown to Washington to watch POW footage; once they went to Channel 3 television studios to watch a propaganda film. It was a painful and difficult task for the family. After one of these excursions Charles Stanley Sr. was killed in a freak accident—an explosion on board a tanker he captained.

Section E

Kenneth Fiedler died May 4, 2001, just one day after his co-worker Nick Mongulo. (See Holy Cross Cemetery) The two were friends and were the last of the double-decker bus drivers of the former Cleveland Railway System. Fiedler, ninety-two when he died, started his job in 1929. His selection as a double-decker driver was considered a plum assignment. By 1931 the double-decker line was eliminated; Fiedler continued as a bus driver and motorman until he retired in 1970.

Milton C Jones (1894–1932) raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1925. He returned hoping to do better but was killed on the first turn of the 1932 qualifying race when he crashed.

Carol Patch (1948–2001) enjoyed boating and water-skiing. She was at a beach party in Euclid, talking with a ten-year old girl and waiting for her turn on the skis. A motorboat came in too close to shore; Patch pushed the girl out of the way and was hit by the boat. She died hours later. Patch’s family and friends took some solace knowing she had saved the young girl’s life.

Cemeteries Nearby Gates Mills North, Gates Mills South, Mayfield Union

Adams Street Cemetery Berea

Address: 94 Adams St. Phone: 440-826-5816 Acres: 2 Burials: 539, according to city records, but 200 to 300 were likely removed and/or destroyed by quarrying accidents First/oldest: 1843 (Susan Briden) Caretaker: City of Berea Access: Dawn–dusk Records: Contact Berea Historical Society

Background Officially started by a cemetery association on September 17, 1861, Adams Street became the village cemetery for Berea. Across from the cemetery, John Baldwin built the log hut, which was the first residence in Berea; the cemetery is on land that was originally part of the Baldwin estate. In 1913, the Cleveland Stone Company purchased the unused portion of the lot, but their quarrying began to cause landslides, and public protest stopped the company from further activity.

Although burials here had been stopped, an exception was made in 1931 so that Jennie Wade Wright could be buried with her family. The ordinance was either changed or not followed because there are also markers dated 1955 and 1977.

The Adams Street Cemetery Project: In 2001 the issue of incomplete burial records became evident, with the death of the one person who knew where many of the veterans were buried. Berea contacted the Baldwin Wallace College History Department seeking assistance in mapping the cemetery and identifying veterans’ graves. The Project has located these graves and repaired or replaced damaged markers so that family members can now locate their ancestors’ graves. The use of ground-penetrating radar resulted in the location of 116 unmarked burials. To get involved in this project contact Dr. Indira Gesink at 440-826-2280 or email: igesink@bw.edu

Your Visit Park on one of the side streets and enter through the gate.

The rectangular section on your left is dedicated to veterans. Cross to the right side of the gate. The stone for Robert W. Turanchik (1946–1977) has messages on both sides. The side facing the entrance reads:

But through a sudden gate there stole the universe and spread in my soul; Quick went my breath and quick my heart; And I looked at God with lips apart.

On the other side is:

Evening night darkens the green earth, The wheel turns, death follows birth; Strive as you sleep with even breath; That you may wake past day, past death.

Behind Turanchik and to the right is Nachtrieb’s white marker showing a hand with its forefinger extended. John Gottleb Nachtrieb (?–1875), a student at German Wallace College, was the son of a man who worked at the German Methodist Orphans Asylum. Nachtrieb died from drowning.

Walk toward the front of the cemetery and look for the Crockett stone by the edge of the American Legion building. Robert Crockett died November 8, 1955; other than the date, only “friend” is written on his gravestone.

Continue toward the gate and notice the large granite stone with a plaque. It reads:

To the memory of all souls who laid to rest within these humble boundaries. Our grandmothers and grandfathers, our aunts and uncles, our neighbors and our friends. They quarried the stone that helped build nations and turned Berea O into the sandstone capital of the world. For those whose names can no longer be read or whose stones have been lost to time, though their names are lost they are loved and will not be forgotten.

(Boy Scout Eagle Project BF 1996)

George Huckins’ grave is difficult to decipher. He was born February 16, 1834, and was in the first graduating class at Baldwin Wallace College. Thanks to the diligent work of Jeremy Feador, Huckins’ diary was located and given to the college. In the diary Huckins writes about his last year at school and his first job as a minister. A Canadian citizen, he explains his reasons for fighting in the Civil War, writing, “The sin of slavery will have to be washed from the garments of the nation, if necessary in blood.”

Cemeteries Nearby Fowles, Hepburn, Woodvale

Nearby Baldwin Wallace College

Alger Cemetery Cleveland

Address: 16710 Bradgate Ave. Phone: 216-348-7216 Acres: 11.1 Burials: 5,981 First/oldest: 1813 (Nathan Alger) Caretaker: City of Cleveland Access: Mon–Sat 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Records: Highland Park Cemetery, 216-348-7210; Mail genealogy requests to: 21400 Chagrin Blvd., Beachwood, OH 44122

Background This cemetery originally consisted of a one-acre plot conveyed to the village of Rockport in 1828 by Priscilla Woodworth. Unmarked and unrecorded graves in the original acre are estimated at no fewer than 500. Additional land was added between 1859 and 1912, bringing the total to almost twelve acres. No records are available prior to 1900.

Your Visit Turn left into the cemetery then take the first right, another left and then right again. Look for the Kamms stone. Behind and to the left of Kamms is a large flat marble stone for Rande Hulec (1961–1990), Ohio’s first casualty of the Persian Gulf War. Air Force Sergeant Hulec was a meteorologist on board a C5A plane that blew up on take-off leaving Kaiser Schlauten Air Force Base.

Continue around this section, turning right to go to the back of the cemetery. Look for a flagpole on the left. Walk toward the fence and find Nathan Alger’s aging white stone.

The Alger family (from Connecticut) settled in a log cabin near Warren Road south of Detroit Avenue—an area known as Rockport Township. Nathan Alger arrived in June, 1812 with his wife Prescilla, four sons, and three daughters. His death less than a year later was the township’s first. On Nathan Alger’s gravestone is written: “My friends I’m here the first that’s come / and in this place for you there’s room.”

Records left by Nathan’s son, Henry, give us a vivid picture of the hardships the pioneers endured and the determination needed just to maintain life. Once Henry traveled to Ebenezer Merry’s farm in Painesville to thresh wheat. As payment he got to keep every tenth bushel—and to carry it home. In 1813 he walked to Cleveland to get salt. After working nine days for S. Baldwin, Henry was paid fifty-six pounds of salt, which he carried home on his back. According to another account, Alger went to Columbia township to chop trees for Captain Hoadley (connection Riverside Golf) and was paid 100 pounds of flour, which he also carried home, a distance of ten miles.

About thirty feet from Nathan is another of his sons, Thaddeus. His stone lies flat. Thaddeus P. Alger was killed by lightning on July 14, 1828, at the age of twenty-seven. It was common for gravestones to mention the cause of death, and Thaddeus’s offers a form of the “Prepare to Meet Your God” epitaph:

My sudden death proclaims aloud

to you my dying friends

to be prepared to meet your god

When he the summons sends

Now drive to Section D lot 26. Enoch Haines (1844–1929) worked at Buckingham Palace caring for the shrubs and flowers during the time Queen Victoria resided there. For seven years Haines was the Queen’s head gardener. He lived in Lakewood and was that city’s first official gardener.

As you exit, stop by the Paulick mausoleum, the only one at Alger. Apparently because Catherine Paulick, a Catholic, married out of her religion, she could not be buried in a Catholic cemetery. So her husband had this mausoleum built for the family—he is not buried here. Catherine died in 1951.

Cemeteries Nearby Evergreen (Westlake), Fairview Park, Lakewood Park

Nearby Little Met Golf Course; Edgewater Marina

Baxter/Baxter Avenue/Chevra Kadisha/Old Bohemian Jewish Cemetery Cleveland

Address: 6521 Baxter Ave. Acres: Less than 1 Burials: 89+ First/oldest: 1873 Phone: 216-566-9200 ext. 252 (Jewish Community Federation) Access: None—it is enclosed by a fence Records: Jewish Community Federation, 216-566-9200 ext. 252

Background The Bohemian Jewish Cemetery Association was founded in 1873 and in 1877 purchased property on Baxter Street. The congregation met in private homes but by 1883 had a temple on E. 40th Street. As their members moved away from the center of the city the number of people using the synagogue dropped dramatically and after thirty-five years they disbanded.

The last burial was in 1942. When the congregation disbanded in 1918, there was no longer an official caretaker for the cemetery. Interested individuals tried maintaining the cemetery on their own, but it soon was in a state of disrepair. At that point (mid 1950s–1960) the Jewish Community Federation agreed to care for the plot; it continues to do so.

Your Visit Your visit takes place from behind a fence. A locked gate surrounds what remains of this small cemetery. You can see the stones but cannot read the names because they are so worn and because of the fence.

Nearby St. Stanislaus Church built in 1888 is a Gothic style Polish Shrine Church. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of Cleveland’s sacred landmarks.

Cemeteries Nearby Lansing, Harvard Grove

Bedford Cemetery Bedford

Address: 66 E. Taylor St. Phone: 440-232-4462 Acres: 15 Burials: 15,200 First/oldest: 1808 (Mary Bartlett) Caretaker: On site weekdays 8 a.m.–4 p.m. (restrooms at office) Access: Mon–Fri, dawn–dusk Records: At cemetery office, 440-232-4462; related documents and other source material available at Bedford Historical Society, 440-232-0796

Background The land for the first Bedford city cemetery was bought in 1857 from J. P. Robinson and his wife; Bedford acquired additional land when the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad was routed through the original tract. Enclosed by an iron fence, the land slopes gently towards Tinker’s Creek.

Your Visit There are three entrances from Broadway Avenue. For purposes of this book, the most easterly entrance is called “A Road,” the next one is “B Road,” and the one furthest west is “C Road.”

Enter on A Road and proceed past Sections 2, 4, and 10; then turn left. The building that appears at an angle is the cemetery’s old receiving vault. It was used to hold caskets during the winter months when frozen ground prevented hand digging of graves. This is the only underground storage vault I’ve seen and is no longer in use. If you were to continue down A Road you would see two small buildings also no longer in use—these were outhouses.

Section 9 is on the left past the intersection. Mary Davison Godwin is buried behind the rose-colored Wilhelm stone, which is near the road. Although her stone does not mention it, Godwin (1878–1939) was a survivor of the Titanic. Her husband, Thomas Henry “Harry” Davison, was not so lucky.

Mary was born in England and came to America with Thomas in 1907. They lived in Bedford but returned to England because Mary missed her family. In 1912 the Godwins made plans to return to America. Thomas originally purchased tickets on another ship, but Mary wanted to be on the Titanic’s maiden voyage so he exchanged the tickets to please her. On the night of April 14th, the couple was jarred awake. After getting dressed (Mary put on the skirt made by her sister Alice), they reached the top deck and saw how few lifeboats were available. Thomas urged Mary to get in one of the lifeboats telling her “I’ll be right behind you.” Once in the boat, Mary saw her husband give his life jacket away. Mary could hear Thomas’s voice singing “Nearer My God to Thee” with the others on board.

Although Mary survived the disaster, she always blamed herself for asking her husband to exchange the tickets.

Return to the intersection just passed and turn on B Road toward Broadway. At the next intersection, turn right, and stop where Sections 6 and 3 meet. Find “Matthews” thirteen rows from the road, to the left of four cypress trees. Thomas E. Matthews was the oldest Civil War veteran in Bedford when he died on March 15, 1928. He has two markers: a typical white government stone and another marked “T. E. Matthews.”

Story But No Stone Found

Section 6, lot 65

Continue until this road ends. Nine rows up the footpath, on the left between “Anna Robinson” and “Phyllis Smith,” is an area with no markers. This is where Julius Caesar Tibbs (1812–1903) is buried, but he has no stone. Tibbs was a runaway slave who took refuge in a wooded area on Joseph Burns’s farm. According to legend, Burns discovered the escaped slave in a large hollow tree and took him in. The date of Tibbs’s arrival at the farm is unknown, but detailed records maintained by Burns indicate that on November 14, 1853, Burns supplied Tibbs with twenty-five pounds of flour for eighty-five cents and one peck of potatoes for another sixty-five cents. Tibbs remained a resident of the town for another fifty years.

Tibbs was well known in Bedford as an orator, philosopher, and humorist. Born in Tuckerahoe, Virginia, he married Clarissa Bongher in 1842. Of the five children who survived him, one son was named Julius; another, Isaiah, became known locally for his baseball skills.

Turn left onto C Road and stop about halfway down. Not far from the Taylor mausoleum is a rose-colored marker with “Gates” and “Handyside.” The stone for Holsey Gates is behind it. Gates (1855–1914) was the grandson of the founder of Gates Mills. In 1876 he bought a gristmill on Tinker’s Creek and sold flour under the name “Gates’ Best.” The mill closed in 1908. Gates was involved in other ventures, including the country’s first hydroelectric plant, constructed in 1891. His house, known as “Handyside House,” was completed in 1894, and was the first home in Bedford wired for electricity.

As C Road ends, turn left and left on B Road; look on the right for “Duber” near the road. One row closer to Broadway and about twelve stones in from B Road is a four-foot-tall aging white marker for Parsons. The murder of Tamzen Parsons (1796–1865) rocked the village of Bedford. Dr. John W. Hughes married Parsons a year before, but failed to tell her he already had a wife. Upon learning of his deceit, Parsons gave Hughes his walking papers. Hughes, in turn, shot her on the doorstep of a house on Columbus Street. Hughes was apprehended, tried and convicted in February 1866. Parsons lies in Section 2.

Toward the end of this section is Richard Sedlon’s granite stone with etching on it. Sedlon (1900–1991) was a local artist who made his living as a lithographer. Privately he produced pencil sketches, watercolors, oil paintings, and sculpture. He was particular about doing portraits, refusing to paint people he didn’t like.

Turn right at the first intersection past “Sedlon,” right onto Road A, then right again In Section 2, look for the graves of Rose and Leary Mitchell, who belonged to a clan of Gypsies—their graves have pictures on them. You may see trinkets left near these graves.

Gypsy tradition includes carrying the casket down the center of the cemetery followed by a brass band. The open casket is lowered into a cement vault, and friends and family toss in jewelry and money. (One Gypsy king was known to love bacon so much that an admirer threw fried bacon on his casket.) Wine is offered and even sprinkled into the casket. Gypsies believed they had to buy their way into heaven, thus the need for keeping valuables close at hand. Allegedly Gypsies look upon birth and marriage as sad occasions that may bring a future filled with troubles. A funeral is considered the end of trouble and a happy event worthy of enjoyment. This explains why a Gypsy funeral may last for hours.

Now drive over to Section 5 lot 68 and the grave of life-long Bedford resident Dick Squire (1914–2002). While at Bedford High School Squire held several track records and was on the OSU track team with Olympian Jesse Owens. After serving in World War II Squire went back to work at Mutual Capital Printer; he bought the company and changed the name to Lincoln Press—reflecting his intense interest in Abraham Lincoln. Squire donated his prized collection of Lincoln books and memorabilia to The Bedford Historical Society.

Now You Know At 762 Broadway is the ornate home of Holsey Gates, currently owned by a Handyside relative, which will eventually be donated to the Western Reserve Historical Society.

Nearby The Bedford Historical Society and Museum is on Park Street behind the Bedford Baptist Church. They have art by Richard Sedlon, many artifacts from early pioneer life, and an interesting assortment of radios from the 1920s to the 1940s.

Cemeteries Nearby Harvard Grove Mt. Olive, Mt. Hope

[Excerpted from Cemeteries of Northeast Ohio, © Vicki Blum Vigil. All rights reserved. Gray & Company, Publishers.]

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