Tuesday, October 11, 2011


When thinking about fun, family-friendly activities in the Fall you probably don't think cemeteries (unless you have a ghost meter and a paranormal investigator license).  If the cemetery of choice is Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, however, the outing switches from the macabre to the beautiful.

Located minutes from downtown Cincinnati, Spring Grove  is America's second-largest cemetery and a National Historic Landmark.  The original intention was to have a park-like cemetery, close to the city, with a natural setting that would have a contemplative atmosphere.  Over 165 years after the first interment, Spring Grove still lives up to that original goal.  It encompasses 733 acres with 15 lakes, a waterfall, 1200 species of trees and shrubs, and 44 miles of paved, winding roadways. It was on one of these beautiful lakes that Uncle Chester learned you should never cheerily call, "Here, swanny, swanny," unless you want that particular fowl to swim over and attempt to peck your nose off.

Besides the lush surroundings, there are also the burial monuments themselves.  Some of the most well-known and rich Cincinnatians are buried there, with ornate statues, mausoleums, and obelisks at every turn.  And if you're a Dark Shadows fan it doesn't take much imagination to feel like you're at Collinwood, hanging around the mausoleum of Barnabus and his clan.

Among the famous buried at Spring Grove are:

  • Salmon Chase - Ohio Governor, Senator, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Secretary of the Treasury under Lincoln, and founder of the I.R.S.
  • Powell Crosley - Cincinnati Reds owner, inventor, and television pioneer.
  • Andrew Erkenbrecher - Founder of the Cincinnati Zoo.
  • Charles Fleischmann -- Of Fleischmann's Yeast fame.
  • James Gamble and William Procter- Founders of Procter & Gamble.
  • Robert Gibson - Founder of Gibson Greeting Cards.
  • Joseph Hooker - Famous Civil War General for the Union side (and remembered more for his role in prostitutes being nicknamed "hookers").
  • Theodore M. Berry - Cincinnati's first African-American mayor.
  • Alexander McGuffy - Co-Author, with his brother, of the McGuffy Reader series.
  • George Stearns - Co-Founder of Stearns & Foster Mattress Co.
  • Waite Hoyt - Major League Baseball player and long-time Cincinnati Reds announcer.

This is hardly a comprehensive list.  There are literally hundreds of well-known politicians, medical professionals, and business owners of all kinds buried there, including lots in the brewery field.  (Cincinnati has always been a beer-drinking city.)  Spring Grove is also the resting spot for the founders of many of Cincinnati's department stores including Shillito's, Pogues, McAlpin's, and Mabley & Carew.

I also give you a few of the lesser known occupants, but ones which give me a particular thrill:

Mr. Miller was a singer and a bandleader and, most important, wrote the "Uh, oh, Spaghetti-O's" jingle.

Mr. Mulford was a pioneer sports editor and coined the term "baseball fan."
I've been to the touring exhibit of Titanic memorabilia 6 or 7 times, so naturally I have to love Ms. Stone, Cincinnati's own Titanic survivor.
That statue looks just like my dog, Frank, when he sees me packing suitcases.  I want him staring longingly at me for eternity.
This looks so much like me at the end of the day that I want a small scale model to put on my fireplace mantel.

We tried desperately to find the grave of Dick Von Hoene, but had to  give up the search.  By that point in the day I had two hot and grouchy children, one tired mother, and Chester, just being herself.  Those outside the Cincinnati viewing area probably won't known who the hell Dick Von Hoene was, but for folks around here in the 70s he will be remembered as "The Cool Ghoul."  Since I couldn't find his grave, I give you a clip instead:

For more information on Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, please check out their website here.   Be sure to stop in the office.  They have some great pamphlets and informational sheets including a self-guided walking tour and a list of  notable burials, including the section number.  They also have a couple maps online here.  They are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day.  From May through August they are open late on Mondays and Thursdays until 8 p.m.  Spring Grove is located at 4521 Spring Grove Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio  45232.

Although we always seem to visit in the autumn, it's a beautiful place for spring flowers in bloom or a summer stroll.  Heck, I bet it's even beautiful in winter with a layer of snow on the angel statues.  Enjoy!

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Anonymous said...

This is a great review of the cemetery.

Nancy Susanna Breen said...

I remember Hooker for getting hit on the head at Chancellorsville and screwing up the battle for the Union.

Amy Bodenstein said...

They also have tons of letter boxes there. We have been several times and Bella loves it!

Anonymous said...

You just commented on my blog about the calm and knitting time in Sanibel--I had to laugh. We're heading to your area (Erlanger) this weekend for our granddaughters first birthday party (she's the youngest of 5--sibs 8,6,4,2!!) It's one crazy household. I'd love to do the cemetery tour--but I know that just won't happen!!!! Maybe someone's soccer game if we're lucky! Wouldn't trade the grandma-thing for anything.

the days are long, but the years are short!!

Darlene's Quilts and Stuff said...

I love the cemetery photos my brother has visited a lot of cemeteries over the country. He's into geneolgy.

Maggie@maggieandthenuts said...

When I was training for the Flying Pig, I ran my 18 mile training run through Spring Grove - I still remember it as one of my favorite runs ever. Of course it took forever, because I kept having to stop at the cool and famous graves.