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Woodland Cemetery

On June 14, 1853 Cleveland's Mayor, city government officials, clergy, and a few citizens gathered under a shady grove for the dedication of Woodland Cemetery. The flat but tree copious 60-acres used for the new burial ground had been purchased in 1851 and developed by Cleveland's city council to take the place of Erie Street Cemetery. Its name, decided one week before the dedication, originated from a poem about Cleveland by the Scottish poet Thomas Campbell called "Pleasures of Hope." The ground was dug for the cemetery's first burial nine days after its dedication. Since then Woodland has become the final resting place for everyone from the ordinary citizen, to Ohio governors, to war veterans.

Woodland's markers are just as varied as the people buried there, adding to the charm and interest of the cemetery. The gravestones are arranged in a rural cemetery style, using the landscape to determine their placement, and creating a park-like atmosphere. These and other features, such as a fountain, a chapel, and a stone gateway, made Woodland an attractive place for Clevelanders to visit. However, its popularity and location as a stop for Cleveland street cars had also made it a convenient, but temporary, location for illegalities such as prostitution and cadaver hunting.

Two Soldiers' Lots for Civil War soldiers were purchased by the federal government in 1868. These lots do not contain all of the veterans buried in Woodland. Graves belonging to soldiers from every war since 1812, some unmarked, are scattered amongst the graves of civilians. There is even one Confederate soldier among them. Not surprisingly, Civil War soldiers outnumber the other veterans in the Cemetery. Out of the 15,600 Cuyahoga county men who were eligible for service during the Civil War, over 10,000 served in the military. Three monuments stand in the cemetery to honor these men: one for the 23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry was erected in 1865; one for the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry was built in 1872; and one recognizing the Grand Army of the Republic was built in 1909. Future presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley were in attendance at the dedication of the latter. The cemetery will soon have a fourth Civil War monument built to honor the 86 black soldiers who are buried there.

Not all of the courageous individuals from that time have monuments or soldier burials at Woodland Cemetery. An example is Sara Lucy Bagby Johnson, a runaway slave who hid in Cleveland. When she was finally apprehended she became one of the last slaves to face charges under the Fugitive Slave Act. A headstone has just recently been given to Johnson, who before had been buried in an unmarked grave. Also buried there is Eliza Simmons Bryant who founded the Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People, and Ohio's first black state senator, John Patterson Green. While visiting and exploring Woodland Cemetery, one can stumble upon these and the graves of other famous politicians, inventors, and Cleveland pioneers.

Audio

Black Veterans Recognized at Woodland Cemetery Michelle Day, president of the Woodland Cemetery Foundation talks about efforts to recognize the black Civil War veterans at the cemetery.
History at Woodland Cemetery Michelle Day, president of the Woodland Cemetery Foundation lists some of the different groups and notable people buried in the cemetery.
Honoring the Veterans at Woodland Cemetery Michelle Day, president of the Woodland Cemetery Foundation talks about the many veterans buried in Cleveland's Woodland Cemetery.

Images

Governor John Brough Monument John Brough was the last Ohio Civil War governor. His grave was dedicated by the city when he was buried in 1865. One of Brough's predecessors is also buried at Woodland - Ohio governor Reuben Wood. Image Courtesy of the Cleveland Press Collection.
Untitled Two groups of graves make up Woodland Cemetery's Soldiers' Lot for Civil War veterans. The northern parcel has 32 graves while the parcel closest to the south entrance has 16. Some of the markers are too worn to read and others have been replaced. When legible, the markers often tell the regiment the soldiers fought in, such as the 7th Ohio Volunteer Infantry or the 1st Light Artillery. Many other Civil War veterans are buried throughout the cemetery. Efforts have been made to find the graves of the soldiers and mark them. Image Courtesy of the Cleveland Press Collection.
Woodland Cemetery Main Entrance In 1870, a stone entrance-way with a chapel and a waiting room was constructed. In 1995, dismantling of the stone gate began. The stones now lay in a pile in the cemetery. Efforts are being made to rebuild the entrance. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Charles Good Marker Charles Good is one of the 86 black Civil War veterans buried at Woodland Cemetery. Although Good was mustered into the 5th United States Colored Infantry in 1864, some of his infantry comrades had probably been a part of the 127th O.V.I. before it had been re-designated the 5th U.S.C.I. Many of the men with whom Good fought also lie in Woodland. Unfortunately, many of their grave sites remain unmarked. Efforts are being made to locate these men and soon a fourth Civil War monument will be erected in their honor. Image Courtesy of Heidi Kathleen Elise Fearing
7th OVI Monument In 1873, the 7th Ohio Volunteer Regiment was honored at Woodland with a monument. The 7th OVI was organized at Camp Taylor in Cleveland as a three-months regiment. It was later reorganized, with many of the same Cuyahoga county men reenlisting, as a three-years regiment at Camp Dennison. The four Robert Parker Parrott cannons surrounding the monument were used throughout the Civil War. Such weaponry is a rare find today. Image Courtesy of the Cleveland Press Collection.
Civil War Veterans in 1905 Veterans from the War of 1812 and on have found their resting places at Woodland Cemetery. A Confederate soldier is also known to be buried on the site; the only Confederate soldier known to be buried in Cleveland. Image Courtesy of Cleveland Public Library Photograph Collection.
23rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Monument The 23rd O.V.I. Monument was the first of three Civil War memorials currently at Woodland Cemetery. Erected in July of 1865, it was one of the first Civil War regiment monuments. During its dedication, future presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley were present. Both had fought with this regiment during the war. Image Courtesy of Cleveland Press Collection.

Location

Metadata

Heidi Fearing, “Woodland Cemetery,” Cleveland Historical, accessed January 16, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/327.