History meets fitness at Woodland Cemetery. CONTRIBUTED

Now is the perfect time of year to take a walking tour at Woodland Cemetery

History meets fitness along the picturesque wooded trails of Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum.

Woodland is the final resting place of such distinguished Daytonians as Orville and Wilbur Wright, Gov. James M. Cox, Paul Lawrence Dunbar and Erma Bombeck, but there are many more tales to be told within the gates of the historic cemetery, founded in 1841. Levi and Matilda Stanley — the King and Queen of the Gypsies — are also buried there, as is one of Dayton’s founding fathers, George Newcom.

>> Famous grave sites at Woodland Cemetery

Bank robbers and murderers, as well as their victims, also have their place among the many tombstones. Physician-turned-serial-killer Oliver Haugh — who was executed in 1907 — killed, among many others, his mother, father and brother. Haugh’s three family victims are buried at Woodland.

On a lighter note, Joseph W. Green — the man who invented Cheez-It crackers almost a century ago — is also buried in Woodland. Cheez-Its were first introduced in 1921 by the Green & Green Company of Dayton. The local company was later acquired by Sunshine Biscuits and became a subsidiary of the Keebler Company.

>> Were Cheez-Its really invented in Dayton?

Those and many other stories come to life during one of the many tours conducted along the rolling hills of the 200-acre grounds. From the Woodland Historic Tours, that highlight inventors and innovators, to the spine-tingling stories told on the History, Mystery, Murder and Mayhem Tours, history and fitness are seamlessly intertwined.

“It’s a workout for your body and your brain,” said Angie Hoschouer, manager of development and marketing at Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum.

Lookout Tower at Woodland Cemetery - known as one of Dayton’s most haunted sites - as photographed in 1898. ARCHIVED PHOTOS
Photo: Staff Writer

Walking shoes are a must as the History, Mystery, Murder and Mayhem Tour winds along the hilly paths for almost two miles. It begins near dusk, at 6:30 p.m., with old-fashioned lanterns adding to the ambience.

“That’s the most strenuous of our walking tours,” Hoschouer said. “Wear good walking shoes and bring water. And we will walk in mist or light rain, so dress for the weather.”

History meets fitness at Woodland Cemetery. CONTRIBUTED
Photo: Contributing Writer

If living things are more to your liking, the Let’s Talk Trees Arboretum Tour is ideal. Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is home to 140 different species of trees, including 25 of the 58 oak species native to North America. In all, about 3,000 trees and 165 specimens of native Midwestern woody plants grace the Arboretum’s grounds. Several of the trees have been standing for more than a century and nine have been designated as “Ohio Champions” by the Ohio Forestry Association.

“There is so much history and so much to learn right here,” Hoschouer said.

With more than nine miles of paved roads, history buffs and hikers, alike, don’t need a scheduled tour to enjoy the sights.

The Cox Foundation has awarded Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum a $1 million restoration grant.
Photo: Staff Writer

“I consider this an ideal place for hiking,” Hoschouer said. “It’s definitely a thigh-burner walking up the hillsides.”

And with Halloween quickly approaching, Hoschouer has some reassuring words for the faint of heart.

“We have no ghosts here,” she said with a smile. “Everyone rests peacefully at Woodland.” 

UPCOMING WOODLAND WALKS

(Tours are free, but donations are accepted. Reservations are required. Call 937-228-3221)

Historic Tour

Oct. 20, 10 a.m.

Woodland Mausoleum Tour

Nov. 8, 9 a.m.

Dec. 13, 9 a.m.

History, Mystery, Mayhem and Murder

Oct. 15-18, 22-25, 6:30 p.m. (lantern tours)

Luminaries of Dayton

Oct. 13, 10 a.m.

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