Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum, near the University of Dayton, is one of the five oldest rural garden cemeteries in the United States, established in 1841.
There are more than 3,000 trees on the grounds to shelter thousands of gravesites, which include a who's who of Dayton's historic past.
You could spend an entire day at Woodland, and still not see all its rich wonders. To make your visit a little easier, here are 17 of our favorite features.
TIFFANY CHAPEL WINDOW: Among the very best Tiffany windows in the United States is the one in Woodland's chapel, a rural scene that displays luscious hues of greens, blues, purples and pinks. The window was installed in 1904.
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ERMA BOMBECK'S BOULDER: Dayton's best-known humorist was an original and so is her gravestone. A 29,000-pound rock was brought to Woodland via a flat-bed truck from Bombeck's neighbor's property in Phoenix, Ariz. It had been one of Bombeck's favorite places to perch. When we were there, a squirrel was eating a nut on top of it.
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HUFFMAN FAMILY VAULT: You'll find the name "Huffman" in prominent places in the area. Huffman Historic District is named after William P. Huffman, whose business became the Huffy Bicycle Company.
DOG AND BOY: One of the most famous gravestones in the cemetery is for Johnny Morehouse, a young boy who drowned in the Miami & Erie Canal (it used to run beside Patterson Avenue). When Johnny fell into the canal, his loyal dog jumped in and pulled him out, but it was too late. According to local legend, the dog stayed by Johnny's grave, and people started leaving scraps of food for it. That led to people leaving toys and other items.
VETERANS' LOT: Near the front entrance of the cemetery, turn to the left and you'll see a big black cannon. It marks the Veterans' Lot, which dates back to the Civil War. On the front of the cannon is an inscription: "These guns are trophies of the war for the Union erected in honor of our fallen comrades."
JAMES MIDDLETON COX: The founder of the Dayton Daily News, James M. Cox went on to become Ohio's governor in 1913-15, and 1917-21. He later served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Ohio's 3rd District and ran as the Democratic candidate for President of the United States in 1920, losing to Warren G. Harding.
GOOSE LAKE: Near the back entrance of the cemetery is a beautiful pond called Goose Lake. It's a serene and lovely place for quiet contemplation.
FOUNTAIN CREMATION GARDEN: Woodland restored a recently rediscovered fountain adjacent to Goose Lake. "This restored fountain is the centerpiece of an in-ground cremation scattering garden called Fountain Garden," according to the August 2016 Woodland Cemetery newsletter called Woodland Wire.
DEEDS MAUSOLEUM: The largest private mausoleum in Woodland belongs to the Deeds family. Edward A. Deeds was an engineer and inventor. He was president of the National Cash Register Company and worked with the Wright Brothers on airplane manufacturing.
THE WRIGHT BROTHERS: The monuments of Wilbur and Orville Wright, the inventors of powered flight, are the most visited monuments in Woodland. Three tall flags mark the location of their graves, so they're easy to find.
PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR: In the same section as the Wright Brothers is the final resting place for the United States' first renowned black poet, Paul Laurence Dunbar. Visitors oftentimes leave pennies on his grave. A tall flag marks this grave, which is on the edge of the road.
ADAM SCHANTZ: The green statue sitting on top of a large monument near the front entrance of the cemetery belongs to Adam Schantz, a businessman who sold bottled water under the name Lily Water and owned the Dayton Breweries Company.
PATTERSON "KNOLL": John Henry Patterson was the founder of National Cash Register. During the 1913 flood, Patterson had his employees build 300 boats to rescue thousands of people who were stranded on top of buildings. The expression "you're fired" dates back to Patterson, who, according to legend, terminated one of his executives by having his desk taken outside and set on fire.
MADAM ELIZABETH RITCHER: A fiery redhead, Elizabeth "Lib" Ritcher was a successful real estate owner and madam of brothels in Dayton. Some of the women who worked for her — "fallen angels" — are buried with her.
ASA MCMILLAN "ANGEL": Asa McMillan operated a wool manufacturing company, and the large, beautiful angel marking the grave is probably the most photographed monument in the entire cemetery.
LOOKOUT POINT: The highest point in Dayton is the cemetery's Look Out Point. From the terrace is a beautiful view of downtown Dayton.
KING AND QUEEN OF THE GYPSIES: In the 19th-century, Levi and Matilda Stanley were given the honorific titles of "King and Queen of the Gypsies." They lived part of the time in Dayton, but in the winter went where it was warmer. When Matilda Stanley died in 1878, her body was kept in the cemetery's vault for nine months. She was purportedly a mesmerist whose charm must have cast a powerful spell – at least 20,000 attended her funeral service, gypsies coming as far away as Europe to pay tribute to their queen.
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WHAT: Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum
WHERE: 118 Woodland Ave., Dayton
HOURS: Opens daily, all seasons, at 8 a.m.; closes at 6 p.m. during winter and 7 p.m. during summer. The back gate, located on Waldo Street, closes an hour earlier than the Woodland Avenue gate. Closed New Year's, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
INFO: woodlandcemetery.org or 937-228-3221.
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