‘Everyone has a story:’ Woodland Cemetery tour celebrates Dayton’s African-American history

Credit: Lisa Powell

Credit: Lisa Powell

Commemorate some of Dayton’s notable African-American citizens during Black History Month with a tour at Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum.

“Celebrated African-Americans at Woodland Cemetery” is among a dozen walking or virtual tours found on Woodland’s mobile app.

With the downloadable tours, found on Woodland’s website, visitors to the cemetery — or virtual visitors — will learn about a diverse group of people from the community, said Angie Hoschouer, Woodland’s manager of development and marketing.

Among the notable African American Daytonians buried there are Jeraldyne Blunden, the founder of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company; civil rights leader W.S. McIntosh; and poet and writer Paul Laurence Dunbar.

A popular spot for walkers, runners and dog-walkers to socially distance during the pandemic, Woodland Cemetery & Arboretum, 118 Woodland Ave., comprises 200 acres and is considered one of the oldest “garden” cemeteries in the nation.

The gates are open daily from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. In March, due to daylight savings time, the hours will be adjusted to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m

The scenic tour provides fascinating biographies that can be read while walking through the cemetery or from home.

Among the profiles are William G. Sloan, a pitcher for the Dayton Marcos baseball team, who was was credited with saving 317 people during 68 hours of continuous work during the Great Flood of 1913.

Charity E. Earley was the first black officer in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps as a commanding officer of the only organization of black women to serve overseas during World War II.

One of Dayton’s first Black police officers, Lucius J. Rice, was buried at Woodland in 1939 after he was gunned down searching for a murder suspect.

“Everyone has a story whether you are famous or not,” Hoschouer said. “It’s important to remember those stories, to tell those stories and to remember those people.”

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