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Woodland Cemetery Association of Dayton, OH 1875


On the 7th day of June, 1843, the cemetery was opened and the lots offered at public sale.  On the 21st of the same month the grounds were dedicated with the following order of exercises:


Dedication of Woodland Cemetery.








HYMN – Old Hundred.


To thee, O God, in humble trust,

     Our hearts their cheerful incense burn,

For this they word, “Thou art of dust,

     And unto dust thou shalt return.”


For what were life, life’s work all done,

     The hopes, joys, loves that cling to clay,

All, all departed, one by one,

     And yet life’s load borne on for aye!


Decay! Decay! ‘tis stamped on all!

     All bloom, in flower and flesh, shall fade;

Ye whispering trees, when we shall fall

     Be our long sleep beneath your shade!


Here to they bosom, mother Earth,

     Take back, in peace, what thou hast given;

And all that is of heavenly birth,

     O God, in peace, recall to heaven.








Fount of mercies – source of love,

     List the hymn we raise to thee;

From they holy throne above,

     Heedful of our worship be.


Creatures of they sov’reign will,

     At they feet we humbly bend;

Let thy grace our bosom fill,

     Be our comfort – be our friend.


Here beneath the sunlit sky,

     With they gifts around us spread;

We beseech thee, from on high,

     Bless these dwellings of the dead.


Guard them when the summer’s glow

     Decks with beauties hill and dale;

Guard them when the winter’s snow

     Spreads o’er all its mantle pale.


Here, when wearied pilgrims cease

     O’er life’s chequered scene to roam,

May their ashes rest in peace,

     Till thy voice shall call them home.


Then, oh, then, their trials done,

     Bid them rise to worship thee,

When the ransomed of thy Son

     Join in endless harmony.








Here, when the turmoil is no more,

     And all our powers decay,

Our cold remains, in solitude,

     Shall sleep the years away.


Our labors done, securely laid

     In this, our last retreat,

Unheeded, o’er our silent dust,

     The storms of life shall beat.


Yet not thus lifeless, thus inane,

     The vital spark shall lie;

For o’er life’s wreck that spark shall rise

     To seek its kindred sky.


Theses ashes too – this little dust –

     Our Father’s care shall keep,

Till the last angel rise and break

     The long and dreary sleep.


Then love’s soft dew o’er every eye,

     Shall shed its mildest rays,

And the long-silent dust shall burst

     With shouts of endless praise.




     The first interment was made July 11th, 1843.

     It has been the aim of the Trustees to increase the size of the cemetery grounds by the purchase of adjacent land when opportunity offered.  Contiguity to the city, while an advantage in some respects, has rendered large additions of ground impossible.  The cemetery now comprises

83-18/100 acres; more than twice the amount of the original purchase.  It is estimated that 41 acres of available ground remain unsold.  This will bring a sufficient amount to buy the additional land needed and furnish a perpetual fund, the interest of which can be applied to the care of the grounds. 

     Desiring to avail themselves of the experience of others the trustees have on several occasions consulted with Mr. A. Strauch, the superintendent of Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati.  They desire to express their obligations to him for advice cheerfully and gratuitously given.  Under the able management of Mr. Strauch Spring Grove is almost without a rival among the cemeteries of the world.  By his system of landscape gardening it has been relieved of the repulsive features associated with the ordinary burial ground, and, while nothing has been admitted inconsistent with the sacredness of the place, it presents to the eye the sober beauty of a park.  The trustees have sought to introduce this system at our cemetery.  Unfortunately it was too late to thoroughly remedy the errors which had been committed in laying out and improving the older portion of the ground, but the superior effect of the new method is apparent to every eye in that part where it has been adopted. 

     While encountering prejudices on the part of some when the order was issued forbidding the further inclosure of lots, the lot owners, as a whole, have given a hearty approval and support to the plans of the trustees.  It is hoped that, at no distant day, all the fences and curbing around lots which now deface a portion of the grounds will be removed.  As Mr. Strauch is an acknowledged authority on such subjects we quote from him (*from History of Spring Grove Cemetery, Published by Robert Clarke & Co. 1969): “In relation to the improvement of individual lots in Spring Grove, I am happy to say that, in that particular, of late years considerable good taste has been displayed by lot holders.  A large number of them have adopted a method, which, for simplicity, appropriateness, and durability, deserves the attention of all those who wish to make permanent improvements that will take care of themselves, and cost but a trifle, when compared with the old method of decorating lots.  The portions of the grounds improved on the new plan, already form a striking contract to some of the older parts, where head and foot stones, hedges, fences, and toys of all descriptions are huddled together in such profusion as to prevent the workmen of the corporation from keeping those places in the same good order as the first named, notwithstanding all the outlay and exertion on the part of the agents of the corporation to satisfy every reasonable demand of lot holders.  There are, however, some individuals who expect their crowded little plats to have the same appearance as those where broad undulations of green turf prevail, adorned here and there only with a noble family monument, and shaded at proper intervals with suitable trees.  Such lots, blending the elegance of a park with the pensive beauty of a burial place, confer on the whole a grace and dignity which can never be obtained on situations where every foot of ground is occupied with ornamental puerilities.

     Inclosures around burial lots, in a well governed cemetery, detract from the sacredness of the scene, by supposing it possible that such a place would be visited by persons incapable of conducting themselves properly, or that the grounds were pastured with cattle.  They also cause considerable inconvenience when interments are made, as well as in the erection of monuments, and cost the corporation more labor than most persons are aware of.  “There is a nothing so much to be lamented,” says an eminent author, “as that when a piece of work has been badly done, it should remain a blemish to the whole, if afterward a better idea has arisin; and although it may occasion regret that the cost of reforming it should be thrown away, the fear of wasting a trifle should not be suffered to destroy the effect of the whole.”

     In order to prevent our cemeteries from assuming, in the course of time, a crowded appearance, there should be a standing rule preventing the erection of more than one monument to each family burial lot.  This should be placed in the center, not less than six feet deep, the usual depth of graves, so that burials can be made around the monument, and the respective inscriptions placed thereon, thus saving the expense of head and foot stones, which always more or less convey the idea of a potters-field, particularly where single interments are located, and where people, to all appearances, vie with each other in procuring the tallest head stones and the largest amount of ornament, causing great difficulty in keeping such places in proper order.  Whenever grave marks are necessary, they should project little above the surface of the ground, and be not much larger than ordinary land-marks of lots, but placed deep enough to be below the action of frost.

     In some instances lot holders have planted a tree in place of the monument, until a suitable one can be procured, or sometimes even to remain permanently, which is very desirable on sections where there is already a great abundance of tomb-stones.  “Limited pecuniary means,” says the author of Rural Cemeteries of America, in his valuable hints on Greenwood near New York, “will probably ever be a reason why the majority of the tributes to the departed will be of a simple character, and erected at small expense.  But good taste is happily not subservient to the power of gold, and should ever be consulted, even in the simplest memorial.”  We have quoted thus at length because the advice is weighty and in the hope that those who will not hear us will hear one who speaks with authority.

     The prevalence of fine forest trees very appropriately gave the name of Woodland to our cemetery.  Before the opening of the grounds in 1843 such trees as were though unsuitable had been removed.  Up to 1870 nothing further had been done, and owing to the growth and the decay of trees it was thought best to remove a large number.  Mr. James Kidd was employed to superintend the work, and proved himself thoroughly competent.  As tree after tree fell before the ax many persons thought the chief glory of the cemetery was being destroyed, and the trustees were subjected to much criticism.  It is believed that all are now satisfied that the removal of the trees was necessary, and that the appearance of the grounds is greatly improved.  The same years the trustees planted in suitable places large numbers of the choicest evergreen and deciduous trees. 

     As a matter of interest the sylva of the cemetery grounds in 1843, as recorded by Mr. Van Cleve, is given:


Acer saccharinum …….……. (Sugar Tree.)

Acer rubrum …………….…... (Red Flowering Maple.)

Caspinus Americana ………  (Hornbeam, Blue Beech.)

Carya amara ……………..… (Bitter nut, Swamp Hickory.)

Carya squamosa …………... (Shell-bark Hickory.)

Carya tomentosa …………… (Common Hickory.)

Celtis crapifolia ……………… (Hackberry, Hoop Ash.)

Cerasus scrotina ……………. (Wild Cherry.)

Cercis Canadensis …………. (Red Bud, Judas Tree.)

Cornus florida ……………..… (Dogwood.)

Cornus paniculata ………….. (Bush Dogwood.)

Crataequs pyrifolia …………. (Hawthorn.)

Crataequs coccinea ………… (Red Haw.)

Fraxinus acuminata ………… (White Ash.)

Fraxinus quadrangulata ….….(Blue Ash.)

Gleditschia triacanthos …….. (Honey Locust.)

Gymnocladus Canadensis … (Coffee Nut Tree.)

Juglans nigra …………………(Black Walnut.)

Juniperus Virginiana …….…. (Red Cedar.)

Laurus sassafras …………… (Sassafras.)

Liriodendron tulipifera ……… (Poplar, Tulip Tree.)

Morus rubra ……………….… (Mulberry.)

Nyssa multiflora …………….. (Gum, Sour Gum.)

Ostrya Virginica …………..… (Iron Wood.)

Populus Canadensis ……….. (Cotton Wood.)

Populus grandidentata …….. (American Large Aspen.)

Platanus occidentalis ….…… (Sycamore.)

Prunus Americana ……..…… (Wild Plum.)

Pyrus coronaria ……..……… (Crab Apple.)

Quercus alba …………………( White Oak.)

Quercus coccinea …………… (Scarlet Oak.)

Quercus tinctoria …….……… (Red Oak.)

Quercus macrocarpa ..……… (Black Oak.)

Quercus imbricaria …….…… (Jack Oak.)

Rhus glabra …………….…… (Smooth Sumach.)

Salix nigra …………..….…… (Black Willow.)

Tilia Americana …….….…… (Linden, Bass Wood.)

Ulmus Americana ……..…… (Elm, White Elm.)

Ulmus fulva …………….…… (Slippery Elm, Red Elm.)

Uvaria triloba ……………..… (Pawpaw.)

Viburnum prunifolium ……… (Black Haw.)


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