Cleveland Cemeteries

There are 120 cemeteries within a 25 mile radius of downtown Cleveland. Included in this number are two special cemeteries that I like to visit whenever I’m in the area. The first is known as the Erie Street Cemetery and is perhaps the easiest to find for it is directly opposite the entrance to Jacobs Field on East 9th Street. Every baseball fan knows that Jacobs Field is the home of the Cleveland Indians. So the next time you plan to see an Indian’s baseball game, go early and take a tour of the Erie Street Cemetery. This cemetery has the distinction of being Cleveland’s oldest existing cemetery. In it you will find the stones for the Carter family. Lorenzo Carter was Cleveland’s first permanent resident. In May of 1797 he built a conspicuous log cabin on the east bank of the river at the foot of St. Clair Avenue and began trading with the Indians
On the east side of Cleveland is a community called Cleveland Heights. There on a hillside is the Lake View Cemetery with its 97,000 burials. This garden-style cemetery is the final resting place for many of the city’s best-known citizens. I suggest that you first visit the 180-foot-tall James A. Garfield Monument located near the entrance on Mayfield Road (Rt.322). In the rotunda is a statue of the 20
th president who in 1881 became one of seven elected presidents to die while in office. Strangely all seven presidents were elected at twenty-year intervals. (1840-Harrison, 1860-Lincoln, 1880-Garfield, 1900-McKinley, 1920-Harding, 1940-Roosevelt, and 1960-Kennedy)
Not far from Garfield Monument is the 70-foot tall obelisk erected in memory of John D. Rockefeller (1838-1937). The story goes that the Rockefellers had several homes but for tax purposes could not stay beyond a certain date each year in their vacation homes. But John’s wife Laura became gravely ill in 1914, and he extended his stay in Cleveland. His enemies declared him a permanent resident and presented him with a 1.5 million-dollar tax bill. Legal battles ensued. Rockefeller had to wait four months to bury his wife at Lake View and then only under the cover of secrecy. He did not return to Cleveland until his death. Many people think Rockefeller would have been more generous to Cleveland if he had been treated with greater sensitivity.
Visitors often leave baseballs, bats, and gloves on the grave of Raymond Johnson Chapman (1891-1920). Chapman played with the Cleveland Indians the year they won their first world championship. On August 20, 1920, while playing against the Yankees at the New York Polo Grounds, Chapman was hit on the temple by a pitch from Carl Mays. Chapman had surgery, fell into a coma, and died the next morning. Chapman is the only professional baseball player ever killed in a major league game. Sadly he had just married and vowed that 1920 would be his last season.
Eliot Ness (1903-1957) earned his reputation as a crime fighter and leader of the “Untouchables” in Chicago. He was hired in 1935 as Cleveland’s safety director and kept the office for seven years, cleaning up the corrupt police department and starting the first police academy. His ashes are in Lake View Cemetery.
It is impossible to see everything in one or even two visits to Lake View. For your very first visit you should arrange to be there in the month of April when 100,000 daffodils are blooming. Make your second visit coincide with one of the many special events that are planned each month. A schedule of these events may be obtained by going online and visiting the cemetery’s web site at and then clicking on Community Activities. For example: On November 15th at 2:00 P.M. there was a wreath-laying ceremony celebrating President Garfield’s 172nd birthday. The Military has a long standing practice of presenting flowers at the gravesite of each U. S. President on the date of his birthday. On December 6th the Hope Lutheran Church will decorate a tree at the gravesite of Rev. Henry Schwan who brought a candle-lit tree into the sanctuary for Christmas Eve Services on December 24, 1851. This marked the first time a lighted tree was used in a church service in America.