Erie Street Cemetery

Description

On East 9th Street, enclosed by a 19th century iron fence and Gothic gateway, is the Erie Street Cemetery - the final resting place of some of Cleveland's most notable pioneers and combatants. Located right next door to Progressive Field, even the popular baseball stadium is easily forgotten once you find yourself surrounded by the many weathered gravestones. Although not all are marked, there are almost 8,000 burials in the cemetery, the oldest dating back to 1827. Scattered among the graves are monuments that have been constructed to honor some of the cemetery's more famous occupants. Some of these include Joseph L. Weatherly, founder and first president of the Board of Trade of Cleveland; Lorenzo Carter, community leader and the first permanent settler of Cleveland; and Chief Joc-O-Sot, chief of the Mesquakie tribe who fought in the Black Hawk War.

There are 168 veterans buried in the Erie Street Cemetery who participated in the Revolutionary War through the Spanish-American War. 98 of these men owe their veteran status to their participation in the Civil War. For example, General James Barnett was an officer in the Civil War and was on the commission for the construction of the Soldiers and Sailors' Monument. He has both a family grave site and a monument. Also buried among fellow Civil War veterans is Jabez W. Fitch, best known for having charge of Camp Taylor, he later served in the 19th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.

Despite the many Cleveland pioneers and soldiers buried at Erie Street Cemetery, efforts were made to reclaim the land for other purposes in the early 20th century. Bodies were even removed to other cemeteries in the in order to make room for new streets. In 1915, the Pioneers' Memorial Association was formed and fought to keep the cemetery and all who remained there undisturbed. Since then efforts have been made to beautify the cemetery by groups like the Works Progress Administration and the Cleveland Grays. Today some markers are worn or broken to the point of being indecipherable, but the graves of numerous dignitaries and veterans can still be found.

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Erie Street Cemetery Entrance

In 1870, an iron fence was built around Erie Street Cemetery with a sandstone Gothic arch entrance (as shown here). Other measures have been taken to preserve and beautify Cleveland's oldest existing cemetery. In 1840 the cemetery was replanted and the burials began being registered. A century later, over 300 trees and shrubs were planted. New monuments and graves have also been erected to further honor some of Cleveland's more famous pioneers or to take the place of markers that have been weathered or damaged to the point of being indecipherable.

Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.

The Peter Hoffman Marker

As told by his gravestone, Peter Hoffman is another one of Erie Street Cemetery's Civil War Veterans. Because he was a member of the 107th Ohio Infantry Volunteers and was from Cleveland, Hoffman most likely was trained at Cleveland's Camp Taylor. Now mostly hidden by dirt and grass, the last line of his grave reads, "Wounded in Action Gettysburg."

Image Courtesy of Heidi Kathleen Elise Fearing.

Erie Street Cemetery Aerial View

Erie Street Cemetery is located in a part of Cleveland that was rapidly developing in the decades before this picture was taken (1927). In 1904, Mayor Tom J. Johnson and his administration developed Highland Park Cemetery. In order to create a more efficient city, he had bodies removed to the new cemetery. Three years later, Newton Diehl Baker, city solicitor, also urged that the cemetery be moved so that the land could be used for a better purpose. In 1915, however, the Pioneers Memorial Association was formed and worked against plans for building the Lorain-Carnagie Avenue bridge through the cemetery.

Image Courtesy of the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities.

The Barnett Monument

General James Barnett is one of the 96 Civil War veterans buried at Erie Street Cemetery. Barnett was the commanding officer of the 1st Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery. He was also a member of the Cleveland Grays and had the honor of leading a welcome for President Abraham Lincoln. After his service in the war, General Barnett was a member of the commission that worked to build the Soldiers and Sailors' Monument in Cleveland's Public Square.

Image Courtesy of Heidi Kathleen Elise Fearing.

The Levi Bauder Marker

Levi Bauder fought in the Civil War as a part of the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Company B. In June of 1861 he was reenlisted at Camp Dennison. Bauder eventually became first sergeant of his regiment.

Image Courtesy of Heidi Kathleen Elise Fearing.

The James Willis Marker

James Willis served in the 1st Ohio Volunteer Light Artillery under General James Barnett. This marker replaced his original gravestone which was no longer readable.

Image Courtesy of Heidi Kathleen Elise Fearing.

The Chief Thunderwater Marker

Born in 1865, Chief Thunderwater began working for the preservation of his fellow American Indians' culture and rights after 1883. Before his humanitarian work began, Chief Thunderwater performed in Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West shows for nine years. In 1940, Chief Thunderwater, also known as Oghema Niagara, took part in Erie Street Cemetery's Re-dedication Ceremony. He himself was laid to rest there a decade later.

Image Courtesy of Heidi Kathleen Elise Fearing.

The Gamaliel Fenton Marker

Gamaliel Fenton is one of the four Revolutionary War veterans buried at Erie Street Cemetery. He also served in the war of 1812.

Image Courtesy of Heidi Kathleen Elise Fearing.

Erie Street Cemetery Rededication Ceremony

On July 21, 1940, a crowd of 2,500 gathered after a parade at Erie Street Cemetery. They were celebrating the redidication of the burial place of some of the city's great pioneers to the citizens of Cleveland. Chief Thunderwater was present (he is visible sitting on the platform) and gave a speech about Chief Joc-O-Sot (also buried at the cemetery).

Image Courtesy of the Center for Public History and Digital Humanities.

The Moses White Marker

Moses White arrived in Cleveland in 1813 after leaving his birth state of Massachusetts. He became active in the then small community as a promoter of Christianity, working to organize some of Cleveland's first religious schools.

Image Courtesy of Heidi Kathleen Elise Fearing.

Cite this Page

Heidi Fearing, “Erie Street Cemetery,” Cleveland Historical, accessed October 23, 2014, http:/​/​clevelandhistorical.​org/​items/​show/​319.​
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