Halloween is a time when cemeteries and the folklore that surrounds them get center stage. But, beyond the annual holiday, some unique cemeteries in Ohio are worth a visit for their historical significance, famous “residents” or just because they have a fascinating story. From beautiful statues to haunted legends and creepy and secluded psychiatric cemeteries, here is a look at some of the top ones to visit in Ohio —
Green Lawn Cemetery (Columbus)
As I walk up the long winding road at Green Lawn Cemetery I am struck by the peacefulness and beauty that I find among the headstones. The monuments and statues throughout the grounds mark the final resting places of more than 150,000 graves. Green Lawn prides itself on being a sanctuary for both the living and the dead, which is why it is one of the most interesting cemeteries in Ohio. It is also one of the oldest cemeteries in the state. Among the graves are headstones for five former Ohio governors, Eddie Rickenbacker and James Thurber. On any given day, you will find, runners, bird watchers, photographers and people doing etchings of some of old and unique headstones.
Woodland Cemetery (Dayton)
The Woodland Cemetery is a unique place to visit for some its stunning headstones and statues and for its garden ambiance. In fact, the cemetery is one of only a handful in the country designated as a rural garden cemetery. There are several thousand trees on hundreds of acres. Famous gravesites here include Wilbur and Orville Wright, author Erma Bombeck, Governor James Cox and George Huffman, the manufacturer of Huffy Bicycles. One of the unique graves to visit at the cemetery is that of Johnny Morehouse, marked by a statue of a boy and his dog located near the front entrance. Legend has it that the boy died after falling into the frozen Miami/Erie Canal where his dog tried to save him. After the boy was buried, his dog stayed at his grave and eventually died of starvation. The statue was carved in 1861 to commemorate the special bond between the two. On any given day you will find toys and mementos left by visitors. Guests to the cemetery have also reported seeing the ghostly presence of the boy and his dog.
Lake View Cemetery (Cleveland)
As one of the largest graveyards in Ohio, Lake View Cemetery spans nearly than 300 acres. There are an estimated 700 new burials every year. Established in 1869, the cemetery has some famous graves that include President James Garfield and John D. Rockefeller. This cemetery is worth a road trip to see the mysterious and stunning Haserot Angel that sits on top of the mausoleum for the family of Francis Haserot. The large statue is a representation of “The Angel of Death Victorious” and has a mysterious and eerie presence.
Confederate Cemetery on Johnson’s Island (Marblehead)
History buffs will enjoy a visit to this secluded island cemetery near Marblehead on lake Erie where 200 Confederate soldiers are buried. The island housed a prison that accommodated 9,000 Civil War Confederate soldiers in the mid-1800s. The prisoners who passed away while on the island are said to still have ghostly presence there. Cemetery guests have reported seeing men in uniform wandering the grounds. The “Lookout” statue that sits above the headstones is also said to be haunted and change positions at night. The cemetery does not have frequent visitors, so you will likely be there alone if you go.
State of Ohio Old Insane & Penal Cemetery (Columbus)
If you are looking to up the creepy factor, a visit to the State of Ohio asylum for the insane cemetery ought to do it. This secluded cemetery is the final resting place for hundreds of patients from the old Columbus Mental Health Hospital. There are two separate, very secluded cemeteries located in downtown Columbus. The markers for the deceased are only the size of bricks with an M (male) or F (female) and a patient number. Several grave markers only say the word “Specimens” on them. I can only imagine what is buried in those graves. Over the years there has been a lot of speculation about the kinds of experiments or torture that resulted in the deaths of some of these patients and that certainly adds to the intrigue when you standing over these graves. I counted approximately 800 anonymous graves at this site and there are more at the other location. I suggest visiting in daylight and not alone!
Here’s a look at the graves and the unusual markers at the State of Ohio Old Insane & Penal Cemetery:
Greenlawn Cemetery (Portsmouth)
One of the most picturesque and tranquil cemeteries is just a few blocks from the Ohio River in the town of Portsmouth. Established in 1829 and 40 acres in size. The cemetery includes many sections, including a “soldiers circle” dedicated to those who fought in the Civil War. The circle includes a prominent monument dedicated to those soldiers. Learn more about Greenlawn Cemetery.