‘CITY OF THE DEAD’
FOUNDED IN 1871, CONTAINS
MORE THAN 8,000 GRAVES
Submitted by: Peggy A. Wells
Woodland Cemetery, Ironton’s beautiful “City of the Dead,” is rapidly increasing in its population, and now, according to F. A. Bixby, a member of the Cemetery Board, contains exactly 8,000 graves.
A review of the history of this place, noted throughout the tri-state region for its beauty, shows that the greatest increase in its sleeping population has been made within the past ten or fifteen years.
Woodland was established 53 years ago, the records show, and the first body buried there was that of Mrs. Dosetta Nolten, who was removed from Kelly Cemetery to Woodland on May 18, 1871. The first original burial in the cemetery was of Spiral Dillon, who was buried on May 25, 1871.
In the first years of its history Woodland grew comparatively slowly due mainly to the us of other cemeteries at that time, and also due to the fact that Ironton was much smaller in size than now. In January 1910, there were approximately 4,800 graves, each occupied by a single tenant. Thus there were about 4,800 bodies placed in the cemetery in 39 years, or an average of 123 a year, quite a small growth.
Starting about 1910, however, Woodland became more popular as a burial site and from that year until the present time, 3,620 graves have been added, an average of about 241 per years.
DAVIS FIRST SUPERINTENDENT
When Woodland was established, a man by the name of Davis was superintendent and he served one year. He was succeeded by Jacob Klineman, who served two or three years and was in turn succeeded by Ambrose Collier, who served until 1886. At that time Nathan Sloane took charge and from that year until 1914, the superintendence remained in the Sloane family.
The elder Sloane served until 1894 when he was succeeded by his son Edward, who served until 1907, when he resigned to accept the superintendence of the Marion, Ohio cemetery. When he left Ironton his brother, Fred succeeded him until July 1, 1914, when he left the city to take charge of the cemetery at Youngstown, Ohio. This office then passed from the Sloane family, Roy Haney succeeded him, and being reelected in July 1924.
It is almost entirely due to the constant attention given, and the great interest shown in the work by this long line of superintendent of Woodland, that the spot has become noted, not only throughout the entire state of Ohio, but also throughout the tri-state region, for its beauty and well-kept appearance. Much of this credit is due to the Sloane family who had it under their control from 1886 to 1914, a period of 28 years. The present superintendent, Mr. Haney, has proved to be a able successor of the Sloane family, and through his work and constant attention to the duties. Woodland is daily becoming even more noted as a really beautiful “City of the Dead”. All Ironton rejoiced in his reelection to the superintendence last July, as it means that the good work will continue.
With the now rapid increase in the population of Woodland rises a problem, what to do to secure more burial ground. It is understood that even now the cemetery Board is worrying over this subject and is attempting to purchase ground lying near the present plot. One solution which has been suggested several times and which will undoubtedly sometime come to pass is the erection in Woodland of a large Community Mausoleum. It has been suggested that the most appropriate location for this would be on the plot of ground just inside the gate of the cemetery, on the left. Other nearby cities have erected such mausoleums, Huntington having one to accommodate about 600 cribs, and Portsmouth a similar one. Such a mausoleum would likewise add much to the beauty of the entrance to Woodland.
Many improvements have also been made outside the cemetery which add greatly to its attractiveness. Years ago it was necessary for all funeral processions to go up Third street to Coal Grove, and then out the Maddyville road to what is now the back entrance to the cemetery. This long journey was a great hardship, considering that at that time there were no automobiles and that much traffic was encountered on Third street. Later, when the cemetery bridge was constructed, the processions would go up Third to Lorain. The greatest improvement to date, however, has been the paving of Sixth street, but even now much of the traffic has followed from Third over to Sixth. An even greater improvement is now under construction, and upon its completion the processions will go up Sixth to Vine, then out Vine to Ninth and up Ninth to the cemetery gates. Thus practically all of the traffic will be eliminated.
With the constant improvement and beautification of Woodland has likewise come great improvements in burial methods. Years ago the grave was indeed crude, and the coffin was lowered only by means of straps held by the pall-bearers. Thus sometimes the coffin would be elevated at all sorts of angles on its way to the last resting place. But only today the grave presents a neat appearance, while the coffin is lowered by a scientific method descending smoothly and evenly. Such improvements make burial services more pleasant.
Because of these great improvements both in and out of Woodland, and also because of the faithful work of a long line of successful superintendents, it is, and will continue to be known as a really beautiful “City of the Dead.”
—Morning Irontonian, 11 January 1925, Sunday, Page 16
* Note: As of September 2016, Woodland shows nearly 15,000 listings on Find a Grave