Posts Tagged ‘tour review’

This weekend we went on Woodland Cemetery’s Killer Cleveland tour, which highlighted some of the violent and tragic deaths suffered (or caused by) those who now rest in the cemetery.  Because it was a fundraiser for the cemetery foundation, the cost was $20 per person, but I thought it was worth it.  It was a good length, about 90 minutes, and there was sufficient time allotted for questions and the reasonable amount of walking that was expected.  It was a chilly, overcast day with constant  threat of rain, but that’s Cleveland in October.  Most of the tour was over in the single grave section of Woodland, and almost none of the killers or victims had tombstones.  I’ll talk about more of the stories in detail later, but there won’t be a lot of tombstone photos with those posts because they simply don’t exist.  We visited the grave of a baby murdered by her mother’s jealous husband after his release from an asylum, along with the baby’s cousin who was shot as he left to get the police.  The tour lead us to the graves of a man who shot his wife while she was sweeping up the lamps he threw at her during a late night argument.  Two of our stops featured unsolved murders: Inez Smith, found stuffed in a trunk floating in Lake Erie (and likely murdered by her husband) and another found dead in her home along the Central Viaduct more than 100 years ago.  We heard about the Collinwood School Fire from the president of the Collinwood Nottingham Historical Society and a fantastic re-enactor told the story of the murder-suicide of Mrs. Cabalczak’s children and then herself from the murderess’ point of view.  We ended with a stop at the Mary Keokee Monroe statue, which I’ve written about before, where we discussed the history of the statue, the legends associated with it, and the interesting photographs obtained on a paranormal investigation in the cemetery. 
The extras included with the tour were pretty nice.  The cemetery had a program that contained summaries of the stops and excerpts from contemporary newspaper reports.  Each person got that, a cute little Halloween candy stick, and a raffle ticket.  They drew three tickets at the end of each tour for a free book by John Stark Bellamy II (I won a copy of The Corpse in the Cellar), and there was a grand prize drawing for a gift basket with copies of Casey Daniels’ Pepper Martin book series.  Daniels was the main tour guide.  And there was a table filled with lots of hot coffee and pastries to help us try to keep warm.

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My stepmother was kind enough to lend me a 1995 Walking Tour of Harrisburg Cemetery when I was home visiting/vacationing. It was published as part of the cemetery’s 150th anniversary celebration. The cemetery was created in 1845 by the state legislature. Harrisburg Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places. With its location within the state capital city, it is the final resting place for notable state politicians. In addition to the famous people who were originally buried at Harrisburg Cemetery, the burial ground is a re-interment site for many of those originally buried in local churchyards.

Jacobs Haldeman

The tour is actually pretty good. The problem with a general cemetery tour is walking the line between indulging your pet passions by over-representing them on the tour and trying to include everything and being overwhelming. The tour has a nice mixture of monuments of historical significance along with those that are artistically interesting. It’s also helped a bit by the appendices – the narrative tour is annotated with a list of famous people sorted by the field for which they are known, a glossary of funerary symbols, and a listing of the people in the cemetery for whom streets are named. The writing style can be a bit awkward, particularly when read aloud. (That was our way of dealing with having one booklet and four people.) The directions can be a little head-scratching, too, but I have to chalk some of that up to the fact that it is rather difficult to give directions in a place where stones are scattered haphazardly.


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Both of the tours we went on this past weekend were very enjoyable and will feature in upcoming blog posts for months to come. Euclid’s walk in the morning was much more focused on the geography and history of the local area, led by historian Roy Larick. It was coordinated with the Euclid Historical Society and was followed by an open house at the Euclid Historical Museum. It was more of a coincidence that this tour coincided with Halloween – it was not holiday-themed.



East Cleveland Township Cemetery Foundation, on the other hand, explicitly tailored their tour to the holiday. They combed through the records of the cemetery to find residents who had arrived there by tragedy: suicide, murder, and, in one case, a fire.


Our tour guide led us through the cemetery by tiki-torch-light. There were also a few other lanterns and flashlights, but the light overall was very dim. (Hint: If you ever find yourself in this situation, shuffle your feet so that you bump into the sides of low monuments rather than trip on them.) Each stop on the tour was marked by a single tiki torch, and there was a fairly even distribution of marked and unmarked graves. The tour guide also stressed that the stories on this tour differed from any they had used before, and they had enough stories that they would be able to provide different tours for many years to come. This is great news for those who enjoy these kinds of tours.


I’m planning to do some more research on the actual stories covered in the tours and post about them at a later date, so please forgive the generic nature of this review. If you get an opportunity to take one of these tours in the future, I recommend it.

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We went on a tour of Lake View Cemetery this weekend that was titled “Angels and Sculptures.” While some of what was covered was interesting, I have to warn anyone considering the tour that it is not precisely as advertised. The tour guide, whose name I cannot remember, works for the Cleveland Museum of Art and seemed to be extremely knowledgeable. Part of the problem was that she started out with background knowledge of architecture and art of the period of the Garfield monument to prepare us for the angels that we were going to see – for 45 minutes of a tour scheduled for two hours. I don’t think I would have minded if the information on artistic styles and movements had been provided in little bits as we were moving around the cemetery, but it was presented as a big long lecture while we craned our necks up to see what she was discussing on the Garfield monument.


There are four angels with the points of the compass on the ceiling of the Garfield monument, and at the one hour mark of the tour, they were the only angels we had seen. In total, we only visited 6 sites in two hours – the angels on the ceiling of the Garfield monument, 4 other sculpted angels, and the statues of the mourners I showed last Friday. (The mourners at the Peck monument are not angels, but I am willing to give that a pass since they are such cool statues.)


I don’t know how many additional angels I would have seen if I had followed the tour to its conclusion, because after 6 sites we had reached the end of the two hours. She did offer to continue the tour for anyone who wanted to continue, but she hadn’t shown me any sculptures I couldn’t have found or understood on my own, so we peeled off from the tour and did some exploring of our own.


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