Header Graphic
History of Dayton, Ohio 1889
Chapter Twenty-Four

(page 643)




City Graveyard-Woodland Cemetery-St. Henry's Cemetery- Calvary Cemetery-Hebrew Cemetery.


            THE first "graveyard" of Dayton was located at the northeast corner of Main and Third Streets. Mr. D. C. Cooper, the proprietor of the town, gave lots 133 and 134 on his plat to the Presbyterian Church, and , as it was the custom at that day to connect the graveyard with the church, the ground was also used for burial purposes. It was soon manifest that these lots would be encroached upon by the town, and in 1805, Mr. Cooper donated to the Presbyterian and Methodist churches and the, town, for a graveyard, four acres of ground on the south side of Fifth Street, between Ludlow and Wilkinson streets, each to have equal parts. Woodland Cemetery having been established, in 1849 the city bought a "potter's field" just south of the cemetery, and subsequently, by ordinance, prohibited further burials in the graveyard. The reversionary interest of the Cooper heirs having been purchased, the ground was laid out in building lots and sold, realizing a handsome sum for the churches and the city. The remains of the dead were carefully disinterred, and decently buried in Woodland Cemetery and potter's field. In 1840, a movement was made to establish a rural cemetery, where every possible safeguard should be thrown around the resting-place of the dead. Mr. John W. Van Cleve made the suggestion, and was most active in promoting the object. At his death in 1858, the trustees expressed their sense of obligation to him in the following memorial, which is recorded in the minutes of the association:

            "The death of John W. Van Cleve demands, on the part of the trustees of the Woodland Cemetery Association, a grateful and heartfelt acknowledgement of his worth as a man and of his invaluable services as an officer of the association. To him more than to any other person is the association indebted for its inception and continued prosperity to the present time. From the beginning he has served as its president, and given an amount of labor and watchful supervision to its affairs which money could not have purchased. To his skillful management the association is indebted for its prosperous financial condition, and its beautiful records, kept by his own hand, attest his abiding interest in it until the time of his death.

            (page 644) "Mr. Van Cleve was no ordinary man. Endowed with a vigorous intellect he had improved it by diligent study. Few men have cultivated so wide a field of knowledge, and yet few were so thorough in each department. A geologist, botanist, engineer, musician, painter, and engraver of no mean skill, he yet found time for the widest reading, and possessed of a most retentive memory, there were few subjects with which he was not familiar.

            "A striking trait of his character was his unbending integrity. His scrupulous honesty was so well known and appreciated that be was frequently selected for the discharge of the most responsible trusts. Born in Dayton, June 27, 1801, he grew up with the town, and was identified with all its interests. No one was more thoroughly versed in its history, or felt a livelier interest in its prosperity.

            "Attacked with consumption, he bore his lingering and painful illness with the greatest fortitude and patience. He died September 6, 1858. Aged fifty-eight years."

            Articles of Association were drawn by Mr. Van Cleve and fifty-two subscribers obtained. Each subscriber agreed to pay into the treasury one hundred dollars, to be repaid to him without interest, either in burial lots or in money, when the affairs of the association justified. In a short time the claims of the subscribers were liquidated the majority of them, taking lots in payment. In 1842, a charter was obtained from the legislature. By the provisions of the articles of association and the charter, Woodland Cemetery Association is a close corporation. The title of all property, real and personal, is vested in the trustees, who are elected tri-annually by the original subscribers or their successors. The charter provides that "each subscriber may transfer his right and share by assignment or devise thereof; and in case no such assignment or devise shall have been made at the death of such subscriber, the said right shall vest in his oldest heir at law." The only privilege, however, enjoyed by members of the association, not common to all lot-owners, is the right to vote for or serve as trustees. All the proceeds from the sale of lots or other sources are sacredly set apart and devoted to the care and improvement of the grounds. The trustees have served from the beginning without compensation.

            A meeting of the subscribers was called at the office of the Firemens Insurance Company, on Thursday evening, February 17, 1841. James Steele was appointed chairman and David C. Baker secretary. At this meeting the Woodland Cemetery Association was organized by the election of the following offcers: Trustees, Job Haines, James Perrine, Edward W. Davies, J. D. Phillips, and John W. Van Cleve; secretary, Robert C. (page 645) Schenck; treasurer, David Z. Peirce. At a subsequent meeting of the trustees, John W. Van Cleve was elected president of the association.

            It is all interesting fact that Woodland Cemetery is in order of time the third rural cemetery of any magnitude established in the United States, preceding Spring Grove, at Cincinnati, three years. On the 29th of April, 1841, a deed was received from Augustus George for forty acres of ground at forty dollars per acre. This tract of land was covered with a dense growth of forest trees, many of them of the largest size. By the judicious removal and sale of the surplus timber a handsome sum of money was realized.

            As a matter of interest, the sylva of the cemetery grounds, in 1843, as recorded by Mr. Van Cleve, is given; the largest part of the trees indigenous to this region are found in this list:


(See List of Trees Here)


            The trustees proceeded at once to enclose the ground, to lay out suitable carriage ways, and to sub-divide the whole into burial lots, seventeen by twenty-two feet each. The surveying and platting was done by Mr. Van Cleve without charge.

            This method of division into square lots of equal size, which was perhaps the best which could be devised at the time, has not been followed by the trustees in platting new ground. Regard is now had to the direction of the roads and the lay of the ground, and a much better effect produced.

            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 (page 646) were dedicated with the following order of exercises: Prayer by Rev. James C. Barnes; hymn, "Old Hundred;" address by Rev. John W. Fall; hymn, Pleyel's German hymn; dedication and prayer by Rev. Ethan Allen; hymn, "Dundee;" benediction.

            The first interment was made July 11, 1843, when Allen Cullum was buried near the center of the cemetery. Up to April, 1889, there have been fourteen thousand six hundred and forty-six interments.

            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 over one hundred acres, nearly three times the amount of the original purchase. It is estimated that forty acres of available ground remain unsold. As "much the largest part of the expense that will be required for permanent improvements, consisting of roads, sewerage, water works, and buildings of the most permanent character, including the handsome new office and chapel at the entrance, has been paid out of the sale of lots, leaving a surplus of over ten thousand dollars at interest, it is manifest that the ground remaining unsold will produce a permanent fund, the interest of which will keep the cemetery in perfect order in all time to come.

            Desiring to avail themselves of the best advice, the trustees consulted with Mr. A. Stunch, the late superintendent of Spring Grove Cemetery, Cincinnati. By his system of landscape gardening applied to the cemetery, it is relieved of the repulsive features associated with the ordinary burial ground, and while nothing is admitted inconsistent with the sacredness of the place, it presents to the eye the sober beauty of the park. The trustees have sought to introduce this system at Woodland 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 those parts where it has been adopted. Inclosure of private lots and the erection of head stones, more than two feet in height at graves, are now prohibited. It is hoped that at no distant clay the few fences that still deface portions of the cemetery will be removed.

            The prevalence of fine forest trees very appropriately gave the name of Woodland to the cemetery. Before the opening of the grounds in 1843, such trees as were thought unsuitable had been removed. Up to 1870 nothing further had been done, and owing to the growth and decay of trees, it was thought best in that year to remove a large number. As (page 647) tree after tree fell before the axe, many persons thought that the chief glory of the cemetery was being destroyed, and the trustees were subjected to much criticism. All are now satisfied that the removal of the trees was necessary, and that the appearance of the ground is greatly improved. The same year the trustees planted in suitable places a large number of the choicest evergreen and deciduous trees.

            For natural beauty and adaptation to the purpose, the grounds of Woodland Cemetery can hardly be surpassed. Every effort has been made to improve them in the best and most tasteful manlier. The roads are kept in perfect order, and by a system of underground drainage, the water is carried of rapidly and gutters are dispensed with. Water works have been constructed, and water is conveyed by pipes to every part of the grounds. The buildings of all kinds are substantial and tasteful, and the new office and chapel, of contrasted gray limestone and red sand stone, at the entrance, are strikingly beautiful structures. No doubt each year will add to the beauty and attractiveness of this quiet resting place of the dead.

            The following are the names of the original stockholders: Richard Ames, Henry L. Brown, Thomas Brown, R. N. Comly, William F.         Comly, John Compton, Archibald Crawford, Ziba Crawford, Isaac Demarest, Edward W. Davies, William Eaker, David K. Este, Samuel D. Edgar, Frederick Gebhart, Richard Green, Andrew Gump, Joseph Gilmore, Alexander Grimes, Job Baines, Henry Van Tuyl, Nathaniel Wilson, Henry Frantz, George W. Smith, Isaac N. Partridge, David C. Baker, John W. Harries, Henry Herrman, Christian Koerner, Peter Odlin, David Z. Peirce, James Perrine, Johnson V. Perrine, J. D. Phillips, Horatio G. Phillips, William Roth, Robert C. Schenck, Samuel Shoup, James Steele, William B. Stone, Simon Snyder, David Stout, Charles G. Swain, E. W. Towner, John W. Van Cleve, Peter Voorhees, Edward Edmundson, Henry Stoddard, Sr., John Steele, Samuel Forrer, and George Newcom.

            Only five of the original stockholders are living (April, 1889), namely, Thomas Brown, Richard N. Conily, William F. Comly, John F. Edgar, and Robert C. Schenck.

            The stockholders in 1889 are: Thomas Brown, William F. Comly, J. Fred Boyer, Ziba Crawford, Samuel W. Davies, John F. Edgar, William H. Frantz, Charles G. Grimes, Josiah Gebhart, Charles Harries, John G. Lowe, John S. Lytle, James McDaniel, Daniel E. Mead, Frank Mulford, II. E. Parrott, James J. Rossell, Robert C. Schenck, Elias Stout, Robert W. Steele, William II. Simms, Henry K. Steele, Jonathan II. Winters, Alexander Gebhart, J. H. Peirce, B. F. Gump, J. Fay Dover, (page 648) J. K. McIntire, Horace Phillips, J. Elliott Peirce, Wood Odlin, Torrence Huffman, John W. Stoddard, William Huffman, J. H. Perrine, Mrs. George W. Shaw, Mrs. H. Seeger, Mrs. L G. Evans.

            Following are the officers from 1841 to 1889:

            Presidents-John W. Van Cleve, elected February 18, 1841; deceased September 6, 1858. Robert W. Steele, elected September 14, 1858.

            Seeretaries-Robert C. Schenck, elected February 18, 1841; term expired February 18, 1853. Robert W. Steele, elected February 18, 1853; elected president September 14, 1858. Edwin Smith, elected September 14, 1858; term expired September 11, 1865. Ziba Crawford, elected September 11, 1865.

            Treasurers-D. Z. Peirce, elected February 18, 1841; deceased August 15, 1853; V. Winters, elected'1853.

            Superintendents of Grounds-George Lane, appointed ---; deceased September 5, 1860. William W. Lane, appointed September 5, 1860; resigned June 14, 1869. J. C. Cline, appointed Juno 14, 1869.

            Trustees-John W. Van Cleve, elected February 18, 1841; deceased September 6, 1858. Job Haines, elected February 18, 1841; deceased July 16, 1860. James Perrine, elected February 18, 1841; deceased January 22, 1864. J. D. Phillips, elected February 18, 1841; deceased February 13, 1871. Edward W. Davies, elected February 18, 1841 ; deceased December 11, 1873. Robert W. Steele, elected September 14, 1858. Thomas Brown, elected March 4, 1861; term expired September 11, 1865. J. G. Lowe, elected April 16, 1864. Andrew Gump, elected September 11, 1865. John H. Winters, elected March 13, 1871. Thomas Brown, reelected January 12, 1874. Samuel W. Davies, elected February 18, 1875.

            The first burying ground of the Catholics of Dayton bore the name of St. Henry's Cemetery. In September, 1844, one half of outlot Number 27 was purchased by Archbishop Purcell of Thomas Morrison for three hundred and five dollars. March 2, 1853, the south half of the same lot was purchased of E. W. Davies for eight hundred dollars. 'These two pieces of ground constitute St. Henry's Cemetery. This was the only burying place for Catholics for many years, and by 1872 had became so crowded as to lead to the establishment of Calvary Cemetery. Interments are not now permitted in this cemetery.

            On the 9th of July, 1872, Calvary Cemetery Association was organized by the election of the following board of trustees: Revs. J. F. Hahne, William M. Carey, F. J. Goetz, and H. Stuckeuborg, for the term of three years; William Helfrich, N. Ohmer, John Stephans, and Henry Hilgefort, for two years; and Robert Chambers, Severin Wiegert, Theodore Barlow, (page 649) Henry Schlaman, for one year; Jacob Stephans, secretary. Ninety acres of ground were purchased two and one-half miles south of the city on a commanding bluff. No finer view of hill, valley, and river can be found anywhere than may be obtained from Calvary Cemetery. Because of this wide outlook, it was a point selected by the mound builders, and one of their curious earth works is included in the cemetery grounds. In the improvements of the grounds the best modern system of landscape gardening has been adopted. The roads have been constructed in the most permanent manner, the native forest trees so far as suitable preserved, and large numbers of the finest deciduous and evergreen ornamental trees planted. In time it will become one of the fnest cemeteries in the country. The total number of interments to date is 4,140, 1,400 of which are removals from St. Henry's Cemetery. The present officers of the association are as follows: Trustees: Emmanuel congregation, Rev. Charles J. Hahne, Michael Walter, and Augustus Meyer; St. Joseph's congregation, Rev. Patrick Cusack, James H. Hall, and James Hartnett; St. Mary's congregation, Rev. H. Stuckenborg, J. Christian Luehrs, and Joseph Burwinkle; Holy Trinity, Rev. F. J. Goetz, Sebastian Dernphle, and George Deis; Sacred Heart congregation, Rev. R. A. Finnerty, Nicholas Ohmer, and Michael J. Gibbons; Holy Rosary congregation, Rev. J. B. Frohmiller, Anthony Haseustab, and Frank Lukaszewitz. President, Rev. Patrick Cusack; vice-president, Nicholas Ohmer; secretary, John H. Finke; treasurer, Sebastian Demphle; superintendent, William Irwin. Mr. Nicholas Ohmer has been vice-president of the association from the beginning, and the success of the association is largely due to his enterprise and good taste. The Hebrew congregation purchased July 15, 1851, of Jacob Dietrich one acre of ground on South Brown Street, near the corporation line, for a cemetery, to which they gave the name, Klah Kodesh Bway Jeshurun. This cemetery is still in use,-but interments will soon be discontinued in it, six ages of ground south of the city having been purchased of A. C. Brown. The new cemetery is located on elevated ground, commanding a fine view of the city and the surrounding country, and when improved as contemplated, will be very beautiful.

Return to "History of Dayton" Home Page