In the 1850s as the Washington Street Cemetery was filling up, a movement was made to find a suitable site for a new cemetery. The first purchase of land was made March 28th, 1859, when the Village of Painesville bought from Hiram H. Little and Hetty M. Little, his wife, of Cuyahoga County, a parcel of 9 1/4 acres for $1000.00. It was part of what had been known as the Eli Bond farm. Soon after additional properties were acquired from William Blackmore and Rosa Elizabeth Blackmore, his wife, by deed dated June 4th, 1859; from Ernest Cook and Henrietta Cook, his wife, by deed dated June 6th, 1859; and from Edward Frazer and Sarah Ann Frazier, his wife, by deed dated October 5th, 1859. One week after the Ohio General Assembly passed “An Act to Enable Townships and Incorporated Villages to Establish Cemeteries Common to Both” on March 17th 1860, the Village of Painesville and Township of Painesville entered into an agreement to establish a cemetery on these twenty-four acres “together with all appurtenances to the said parcels of land belonging to and for the uses and purposes and interests herein after limited and expressed and to no other use, interest or purpose whatsoever. That is to say, to and for the use and behalf of the said Incorporated Village and the said Township of Painesville and the inhabitants of said Village and Township, for a Cemetery for the burial of the dead, common to the inhabitants of both said Village and Township.”
The first recorded burial in Evergreen Cemetery was on January 23rd, 1860, when the three year old son of John Harrison, who had died of cancer, was buried. The first lot deed was issued on June 20th, 1860.
From the beginning Evergreen Cemetery was extolled for its beauty. Walks and drives were laid out, uneven places cut down and filled in, shrubbery and evergreens and ornamental and shade trees planted.
The Village Council passed “An Ordinance to Regulate Evergreen Cemetery” on March 23rd, 1861, with the following provisions:
1. Every person upon entering or leaving the Cemetery shall close the gates.
2. On Sunday the gates of the Cemetery shall be closed except to vehicles actually in attendance at funerals.
3. No vehicle shall be driven faster than a walk within the Cemetery grounds.
4. No hearse or vehicle shall be ridden or driven anywhere within the Cemetery except upon the established drives.
5. No horse or horses shall be left unattended by a driver within the gates, nor shall any person, while in a state of intoxication be permitted to drive within the gates, nor shall any person be permitted to remain in the Cemetery, after having been ordered by the Sexton to leave, such persons being in a state of intoxication.
6. No obscene language and no lewd, nor profane conversation, shall be allowed within the Cemetery.
7. All persons are forbidden to pick flowers, or to break any tree or shrub, within the Cemetery grounds.
8. All persons are forbidden to write upon, cut, bruise, break, discolor or otherwise deface, or injure any stone, monument, fence, or other structure within the Cemetery.
9. No person shall remove any stake, that marks the boundaries of any drive, walk or lot.
10. Children under twelve years of age will not be permitted within the Cemetery, unless accompanied by parents, guardians, or friends.
11. All persons are forbidden to sit, walk, or otherwise occupy any private lot within the Cemetery.
12. All persons are forbidden to discharge any fire-arms, within the Cemetery except at Military funerals.
13. No interment shall be made in the Potter’s field of Evergreen Cemetery, until the sum of one dollar, be paid to the Sexton, unless a special permit be granted by the Mayor, or Recorder, dispensing with such payment. The money arising from such source, to be paid into the “treasury on account of the Cemetery fund.
Soon the cemetery was becoming a place of resort on Sundays, with visitors promenading and even having lunch on the grounds. The Painesville Telegraph of June 25th, 1863, reported: “The conduct of some who are in the habit of visiting this sacred place for the dead, is very unbecoming…” The response was “hereafter a policeman will see to it that a repetition of improper conduct will not occur on these grounds without the arrest at once of the transgressors.”
After the opening of the new cemetery, the sexton began to encourage those who had family members buried in the Washington Street Cemetery to have them removed to Evergreen Cemetery. Those buried in private family burial plots had their loved ones moved here. The remains of Ohio’s ex-Governor Samuel Huntington, who was buried on the old Huntington farm in 1817, was disinterred on May 16th, 1870, and deposited in Evergreen Cemetery and an appropriate monument erected. However, for those looking for records of their ancestors, one must keep in mind that these reinterments were not recorded by the sexton. It can be difficult to tell if someone is buried here just because the name appears on the monument, or, if there is no stone that no one is buried there.
In November 1877 the cemetery directors began the construction of a storage building and vault. The site had been occupied by the fountain, which was moved farther south. The architect and builder was Mr. J.C. McDonald, of Elyria, Ohio, but formerly a resident of Painesville. Built of Amherst blue stone and designed in the Gothic style, it cost $2,500. It was used for the first time to receive the remains of Mrs. L.D.C. Canfield on January 4th, 1878, when it was not possible to open a grave due to the weather.
Over the years properties bordering the cemetery were purchased, until it now encompasses fifty-five acres and contains 45,000 graves. As the cemetery is now closed with no new lots for sale, Riverside Cemetery was opened in 1953 to accommodate the needs of the future.
This cemetery has some of the most beautiful and unique memorial sculptures in Lake county. The formation of the section layout is also unique in the county. Stones facing the road tend to be most popular, and this cemetery provides plenty of those. Most sections are arranged with two or more rows along each of the four roads. For this reason, it is advised that the map be consulted for row placement for our readings.
Divisions A, B and C appear to have opened in the very late 1920s or early 30s. None of the lettered divisions are included in the DAR readings of 1929. These sections have a mix of monuments and headstones, mostly granite. The more recent stones tend to have more color. The rows were read from west to east, and the stones in the rows from north to south. Then the rows facing the road on the north, then the south. The first three rows in Div. C are curved.
Division D Although the north half of the section is designated as Potters’ Field, it appears that the first five rows were sold as regular graves. Most of them have stones, which is not the case in the rest of Potters’ Field. These have been included in Division D rather than the Potters’ Field part of the Division. The rows were read from west to east, and the stones from north to south. Then the rows along the south road were read, south to north and the stones west to east. This division has many Finnish people in it. From the dates this section probably opened about 1928.
Potters’ Field is a lovely shady area in the north east part of Division D which appears almost unused, although it is probably full. Deaths in this area date from the 1860s forward, although there is a stone from 1832. The more recent ones seem to mostly be immigrants. The few stones there are mostly flush or flat, and most are nearing illegibility and seem randomly sprinkled. A few have been added in later years. These were read in some semblance of rows from west to east, stones from north to south.
Division E appears from stone dates to have opened in 1919 or 1920. Most of the stones are granite.
Infirmary Section in the north part of Division E has only five stones, likely put in long after the event. These are in line with rows 4, 7, 9, 10 and 12 in the other part of Division E. By contract with the county, interrees were residents of the County Home. Some re-interments occurred here when the County Home closed the burial ground on its property.
Division F appears to have begun about 1919 or 1920. Stones are mostly granite.
Division G is a large new section, probably opened in 1950 or so. Stones are essentially all granite, in different colors, with no high monuments in the section. Some are upright, but most are slight slants.
Division H is at the southeast corner of the cemetery. Oldest stones date back to about 1940. Most of this Florida shaped section has very low stones, many flush, but there are a few monuments on the perimeter. There could be room for about eight more rows, but it would be close to Main Street. The tail of this section is quite long, connecting to Section 18B. In the readings, the first five rows were rather freeform to include all the stones regardless of their orientation. Row 29 curves from the north road toward Main Street. Row 29 begins to curve the other way, from the north road toward Casement Avenue. Rows 35, 36, and 37 make up the northern most tail ending with the Pomeroys at the road before section 18.
Divisions 1 to 8 are part of the “flower” in the original layout of the cemetery in 1860. This appears as an old cemetery with many marble stones. However, it is also dotted with newer replacement monuments. The Elks Memorial triangle is between Divisions 1 and 8. The War Veterans Memorial Triangle is between Divisions 7 and A.
Division 1 is on a hill with the tall Morse monument in the center at the highest point.
Division 2 contains the Windecker mausoleum with its lovely Tiffany window, best viewed in the morning. There are many tall marble monuments.
Division 3 is predominately granite appearing, but there are many small marble markers.
Division 5 is cut by a grass road through it, and has been designated here as 5A and 5B. The Chilson monument with its stained glass window is in 5A. The huge Landphear brownstone cross is in 5B. 5B has almost entirely granite stones. Another striking monument is the 12 foot Young tree trunk. It has many details including ivy, several different flowers, squirrels, birds, etc, all of stone.
Division 6 has been dubbed by some as “The Irish Section” but it is certainly cosmopolitan.
Division 7, across from the Veteran’s Memorial, has its own Civil War memorial with a large number of markers, numbered, but with no names for Union Vets. These 4″ X4″ X 18″ high markers are scattered throughout the older Painesville area cemeteries.
Division 8 has a Spanish American War memorial in the point. It also has a huge maple tree in row 6. At the west side of the section is an exquisite granite carving of a girl on the Kerr monument. Next to it is a large rose granite sphere monument.
Division 9 is connected to 16. Most of its stones date after 1902, but there is also a wide spread of earlier dates, indicating perhaps some re-interments.
Division 10 is a combination of marble and granite stones. Many predate the cemetery indicating their re-interment from other burial grounds in the area.
Divisions 11 and 12, like 10, are a combination of stones. The older ones tend to date from the late 1870s and 1880s.
Division 13 stones date back to the 1870s with some much older.
Division 14 seems a bit longer than Division 15.
Division 15 is dominated by pink and grey granite stones. There are many violets and other wild flowers in the lawn. For these readings, the 2 rows across the road, parallel with Casement Avenue was called 15B.
Division 16 is similar to 17A.
Division 17 has been divided for our purposes into A and B, the latter at the south end of the division being a much older appearing plot of stones. Many of these were moved here from the old Washington Street Cemetery in the 1870s. This division is referred to as a “Singles” section by the cemetery.
Division 18 is divided for our purposes into A- the main part, and B- the strip along Casement Avenue. This section is predominately foreign, many Hungarian, some Finnish, Greek and a Chinese. The stones are mostly small, irregularly placed, granite and limestone markers. It is considered a “Singles” Section by the cemetery. The rows are a bit “creative.”
Divisions 19, 20, and 21 are similar to Division 13. Division 21 has been divided for our reading into A and B. The double row along Casement Avenue is 21B.
Division 22B is built on a mound at the north west corner of the cemetery overlooking the river. There is a lovely granite bench at the edge of the cliff with a stone “patio” which makes a popular lunch spot with a view of Painesville. The Marshall, Horton, Stumm, Harrison and Smith families occupy this section with all gray granite, massive monuments and stones. The oldest of these memorials are of the Harrison children, who also have stones in section 7. From the dates on the stones, it appears this section was opened in the late1890s. 22A is the large section across the road, just east of 22B.
Division 23, nestled between 22 and 24 is of similar character. It lies entirely between the perimeter roads. Most of the stones are of grey granite.
Division 24 has been divided into A and B, with B being the two row strip on the edge of the woods, across the road and meeting Division 26. 24A has the Tillitson mausoleum in the northeast corner, and the Nims mausoleum in the northwest corner.
Division 25 is a long strip of two rows of graves along the north edge of the cemetery, on the edge of a cliff. The Burridge mausoleum is in the west end of this tree shaded area by the woods. This is the newest of the divisions read by the DAR in 1929.
Division 26 and 27 start on what appears to be the third row, the first two being part of the old division 12, here designated as 12B. The last two rows as they were read and included here are actually the first two rows of Division 28. Section 26C has the long low pink and grey marbled Mitchell mausoleum near the north west corner. Trash containers are placed at the dividers between sections 26 and 27 as we read them. It is possible that the dividers between 26 and 27 are actually a bit more to the north. These two sections have all the rows running the same direction, setting them apart from 13, 19, and 20, which have stones facing the perimeters of their sections. 26D is across the road to the north, and 26E just east of that. The eastern most part of 26E was read as 28B.
Division 28 runs the same width as 26 and 27 combined. It actually begins in the last two rows of 26C and 27C, but those rows were left with those sections for our readings. The rows of granite stones all run the same direction. None of the stones is more than 3 ft. high. 28C is across the road, parallel with Casement Avenue. 28B is across the road to the north. The first several rows are actually 26E. However there is a big space there which made it more obvious to divide.