Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio

Photo by Michael Kleen

Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, at 118 Woodland Avenue in Dayton, Ohio, opened as a Victorian rural cemetery in 1841 and today is the final resting place for over 107,000 former residents. There are over 3,000 trees scattered across its 200 acres, leading to its designation as an arboretum. Woodland’s Romanesque gateway, chapel, and office were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, and feature beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows.

Johnny Morehouse (1885-1860)

One of Woodland’s most visited graves is that of a young boy named Johnny Morehouse (1885-1860). His parents, John and Barbara, owned a shoe repair shop. According to legend, Johnny was out playing with his faithful dog when he fell into the Miami & Erie Canal and drowned. Griefstricken, his dog refused to leave his graveside. Today, both are memorialized by this statue, around which visitors often leave toys and other tokens of their affection.

Orville (1871-1948) and Wilbur (1867-1912) Wright

Orville (1871-1948) and Wilbur (1867-1912) Wright were pioneers of aviation who invented and flew the world’s first functional airplane. The brothers were born in Dayton and spent their entire lives there, but made their first successful flight in 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Unfortunately, just as their business began to take off, Wilbur died of typhoid fever in 1912. Devastated, Orville sold their business and devoted the rest of his life to promoting aviation.

Adam Schantz, Sr. (1839-1903)

Monument to Adam Schantz, Sr. (1839-1903) and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Schueler Schantz (1817-1888). Schantz was born in Darmstadt in Hessen, Germany and came to Dayton, Ohio with his three brothers. Despite some initial financial missteps, he built the Riverside Brewery and became a wealthy man, eventually also owning a water purification company and becoming finance chairman for the City of Dayton. A life-sized bronze statue sits over his grave and those of his family members.

Clement Vallandigham (1820-1871)

Clement Vallandigham (1820-1871) was a lawyer, U.S. Representative from Ohio, and leader of the Peace Democrats, or “Copperheads”, during the American Civil War. He sought to restore the Union as it was before the war and vehemently opposed the Lincoln Administration. He was arrested for opposing the war, convicted in a military court, and exiled to the Confederacy. He fled to Canada and returned after the war. Vallandigham died in 1871 in Lebanon, Ohio, after accidentally shooting himself while representing a defendant in a murder trial.

Woodland Cemetery Receiving Vault

Stonemason Joseph Wuichet constructed this Egyptian Revival-style receiving vault in 1847. It is one of the oldest structures in Woodland Cemetery and designed to resemble a temple at Thebes and Karnak. In the nineteenth century, it was difficult to dig graves in winter owing to the frozen ground, so the deceased would be stored in a receiving vault until the ground was sufficiently thawed. The body of “Gypsy Queen” Matilda Stanley laid in state there for nine months while gypsies from around the world gathered for her funeral.

Author: Michael Kleen

Michael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and occasional traveler. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He enjoys studying military history, folklore, and philosophy.

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