John Davison Rockefeller, Sr. (1839–1937) was an industrialist considered to be the richest American and richest person in modern history. He founded the Standard Oil Company and once controlled 90 percent of all oil in the United States, with a peak net worth of $900 million (around $420 billion today). In retrospect, his obelisk in Cleveland, Ohio’s Lake View Cemetery seems like a humble monument. In his personal life, he was a devout Baptist and teetotaler who married Laura Celestia “Cettie” Spelman, an abolitionist, in 1864. He also founded the University of Chicago and Rockefeller University.
These majestic rural cemeteries are a who’s-who of the Midwest’s historic and influential personalities.
From captains of industry, to former presidents, storied military figures, inventors, and artists, Midwestern cemeteries are filled with former residents who made outsized contributions to American history. Many of these cemeteries are considered historic in their own right, owing to their art and architecture.
Bohemian National Cemetery in Chicago, Illinois
Bohemian National Cemetery, at 5255 N. Pulaski Road in Chicago, Illinois, was created in 1877 by Chicago’s ethnic Czech community, and has since expanded to 126 acres. Approximately 120,000 of the city’s former residents are buried here, including victims of the SS Eastland shipwreck. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006.
These storied homes are valued for their architecture or their role in historical events, but many visitors and residents report that something otherworldly lingers…
Lizzie Borden House
The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts was the scene of a gruesome unsolved double murder, perhaps among the most infamous in the U.S. Thirty-two-year-old Lizzy Borden became the chief suspect, but she was acquitted at trial. Today it’s open for tours and overnight stays.
The Franklin Castle
Built between 1881-1883, Franklin Castle (or the Tiedemann House as it is more properly known) is located in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. It is rumored to be home to more than a few tortured souls left over from a series of gruesome murders – but are any of those stories true? Only a few people have been allowed inside its wrought iron gates to know for sure.
This monument to industrialist George J. (1834-1910) and Adelia M. Hopkins (1840-1899) Roberts in Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, 118 Woodland Avenue in Dayton, Ohio, depicts a woman in mourning holding a wreath. The statue was carved from lovely white marble, and is unblemished by visitors. The epitaph reads: “To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” George J. Roberts & Company, at the corner of Second and Mill Streets in Dayton, manufactured steam pumps and hydraulic machinery.
Bronze and polished granite monument to entrepreneur Francis Henry “Frank” Haserot (1860-1954) and family at Lake View Cemetery, 12316 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio. Known colloquially as the Haserot Angel or “Weeping Angel”, this statue was sculpted by Herman Matzen and titled “The Angel of Death Victorious.” An inverted torch symbolizes life extinguished. Dark streaks emanating from the angel’s eyes have given rise to a legend that the statue weeps on Halloween.
This unusual monument to Daniel Beckel (1813-1862) at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, 118 Woodland Avenue in Dayton, Ohio, is made even more unusual by the fact that Beckel had nothing to do with bees or bee keeping. Beckel was born in Cornwall, England and became one of Dayton, Ohio’s founding fathers. He built the Beckel House Hotel and Opera House and helped found Dayton’s first bank. According to Angie Hoschouer of Dayton Most Metro, the “Beckel Beehive” symbolizes human industry, faith, education, and domestic virtues.
Established in 1869 as a nonprofit garden cemetery, Lake View Cemetery at 12316 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio contains a veritable who’s who from Cleveland’s once-storied past, including the remains of U.S. President James A. Garfield. Over 110,000 former residents are interred in its sprawling 285 acres.
This larger-then-life statue is dedicated to Scottish-American steel magnate Henry Chisholm (1822-1881). Chisholm emigrated to Montreal, Quebec at the age of 20. He steadily built a thriving construction business, then bought the Cleveland Rolling Mill with his brother in 1857. It became one of the largest steel companies in the U.S. His wife, Jean Allen, and he had five children. They are not buried beneath this monument (designed by sculptor Charles Henry Niehaus) but in the family mausoleum nearby.
This intimidating monument was erected in memory of U.S. Secretary of State John Milton Hay (1838-1905). Hay was a lawyer and Abraham Lincoln’s private secretary. He served President William McKinley as Ambassador to Great Britain, and then Secretary of State in 1898. He continued in that position under President Theodore Roosevelt. He was also an author who wrote a ten volume biography of Abraham Lincoln. His epitaph reads: “The fruit of righteousness is sown in place of them that make peace.”