LIMA — Sue Smith, who lived for many years near Woodlawn Cemetery, enjoys learning more about the history of the cemetery and who is buried there.
Smith, an assistant with Downtown Lima Inc., helped do research into the cemetery for the annual cemetery tours, which are sponsored by her employer.
“I would walk here all of the time and be just naturally drawn to it,” Smith said. “You see familiar names here and beautiful historic graves. It just draws you in from just the aesthetics of it. And then, of course, is the back part, and a lot of those graves are transferred from downtown when they brought those graves out here. Those are some of my favorites—- the Civil War graves — and I like looking up the stories (of who is buried there).”
George MacDonell, formerly of Lima and now of Naples, Florida, conducted the tours, which started Saturday.
“I started last year. I did two tours,” MacDonell said. “They sold out quickly, so this year we decided to do four. I’m also on the board of directors of Woodlawn Cemetery, so I’m here four times a year.”
The cemetery was founded in 1873. MacDonell recounted stories about some of Lima’s most prominent and notorious citizens buried at Woodlawn Cemetery while giving the tour.
“The cemetery has several notable people buried here,” he said. “Sen. Calvin Brice is a very notable Lima person who is buried here in a beautiful memorial which is said to be designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, who was famous for designing the double-eagle gold coin.”
Allen County has two Medal of Honor recipients, and one of them is buried at Woodlawn Cemetery, William Metzger.
There are some oddities in the cemetery too, MacDonell said.
“Carl Hague, who was known as Professor Zeno, went up in a hot air balloon in 1901 at the Allen County Fair and descended, unfortunately, into the old Lima Reservoir with his parachute on top of him and drowned there, so he’s buried here,” said MacDonell.
“We have two murderers (Albert and Benjamin Wade) who were convicted in the death of a woman named Kate Sullivan in Toledo, Ohio, on Aug. 14, 1903,” he said. “Three months later, they were electrocuted, so they had a very speedy trial.”
The Woodlawn Cemetery tours were part of an effort that coincided with the Lima Lantern Tours, also sponsored by Downtown Lima Inc.
“This is our 12th year, so we have always done these haunted historical tours of the downtown,” said Aubree Kaye, executive director of Downtown Lima Inc., “and then we’ve spread them to Woodlawn Cemetery to do the history of Lima, learning about Lima’s history and basically the movers and shakers who created our town. They were the ones to give us Faurot Park. They’re just the names for a lot of our streets and roads around here that the people didn’t realize were the ones that laid all the foundation for the City of Lima.”
While the Lima Lantern Tours are sold out, there are a few tickets available for the Woodlawn Cemetery tour on Friday, Oct. 11. For ticket availability, check out visitdowntownlima.com or its Downtown Lima Inc.’s Facebook page.
Reach Sam Shriver at 567-242-0408.