Posts Tagged ‘joc-o-sot’


Erie Street Cemetery’s most famous ghost is Joc-O-Sot, a Native American who died in Cleveland, probably of tuberculosis. Not a great deal is known about Joc-O-Sot (“Walking Bear”). After fighting in the Blackhawk Wars against the United States, he arrived in Cleveland sometime in the 1830s and offered his services as a guide for hunting and fishing expeditions. He joined a traveling theater troupe that was supposed to teach about Native American life. Shortly before his death in 1844, he traveled to England and had an audience with Queen Victoria. When he died, local Clevelanders who had known him as a guide paid for his burial and monument.

Chief Joc-O-Sot

But, the story goes, Joc-O-Sot wanted to be buried closer to the land of his birth (assumed to be somewhere near Wisconsin or Minnesota) and his interment in Cleveland angered him. That anger is purported to have been so intense that it cracked the original marker, which now lies flush with the ground.

Joc O Sot

Joc-O-Sot’s ghost is supposed to roam the cemetery and occasionally pay visits to the Cleveland Indians’ baseball stadium right across the street, disrupting their games.

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Oghema Niagara, better known as Chief Thunderwater, lies in Erie Street Cemetery.

Chief Thunderwater

Niagara was born in New York state and traveled with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West shows before settling in Cleveland. As well as being a businessman, Niagara was active in Native American affairs, helping to found the Supreme Council of Tribes, and education of whites about Native American culture and issues. He was a prominent figure in the fight to keep Erie Street Cemetery from being closed and was a member of the Cleveland Early Settlers Association. He can be seen wearing a feathered headdress in this photograph of a re-dedication ceremony at Erie Street Cemetery. Every year, he would honor Joc-O-Sot, another Native American buried in the cemetery, with a ceremony that included planting maize at the grave. According to the family scrapbook online, his granddaughter continued the tradition for many years, putting maize on Chief Thunderwater’s grave as well.

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