Cobblestone roads greet you at the entrance of this beautiful cemetery. Established in 1852, these rolling hills stretch over 22 acres of perfectly manicured grounds which have become the final resting place to over 25,000 people including the young and the old, the poor and the wealthy, the common people and the distiguished. But beyond the usual markers one expects to cross paths with, this town’s cemetery holds tales of bravery, heartbreak and hope throughout both infamous and pivotal moments in our nation’s history. The first tales begin before the cemetery was established with stones existing on the land when it was selected. No longer ledgible and weathered against time, records indicate that these historical markers belong to soldiers who had fought in the Revolutionary War. Historians do their best to name these brave men but many still go unacknowledged as they rest peacefully beneath the beautiful Oak trees situated in the oldest parts of the cemetery. As you walk the grounds, vibrantly colored leaves shed from their branches, taken by a gentle breeze to swirl beneath your step until they come to rest among more of the brave.
Here, soldiers can be found covering a broad spectrum as they succumbed to the battles of The Civil War. Unique memorials such as this proud soldier stand on eternal watch as you gaze upon those who have fought so bravely. Regiments from the states of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and Loiusianna can be found among the fallen as both sides, fighting in opposition, now rest in silent rememberance. As you leave the time of war behind, you cross the cobblestone and enter a maze of mausoleums and intricate stones which belong to the town’s founding fathers. Stories surface of their hard work in their quest to bring growth and prosperity to the community. One such tale brings us the name of George Dennick Wick who stood as one of the founders of Youngstown Sheet and Tube, a company that went on to became the largest locally-owned steel company in America. In 1912, his death came as a shock to the townspeople as he was returning from Europe with his wife and daughter aboard the RMS Titanic when she went down. With women and children saved first, they shared a last goodbye as he waved to them from the deck as their lifeboat was lowered into the sea. His body was never recovered but a memorial was erected so that his memory could live on.
In life he strived to make the days better for those who called this town home and though his body may have been lost to the sea, his memory stays within the walls of the cemetery, overlooking those he helped most. Walking down from these hills, the grand mosuleums and towering stones diminish into a more traditional feel as the headstones begin to take on simple designs. Though these lives aren’t marked with fancy pieces, their stories can be just as intriuging. One such story is that of entertainment brought in the way of America’s favorite pastime: The game of Baseball. The game got its start in 1846 and brought many players onto the scene throughout the years. Jimmy McAleer was one such player, making his debut on a team coming out of Cleveland in 1889. Through his years dedicated to the game he played for such teams as The Spiders, The Infants, The Browns and The Blues. In 1901 he was managing The Blues in Cleveland when a riot erupted onto the field as the crowd, numbering close to 3,000, rushed the umpire for a bad call. Along with other members of the team, McAleer was credited for saving the Umpire from bodily harm as the enraged crowd threw glass bottles and seat cushions as they retreated to the clubhouse, managing to escape with minor cuts and bruises.
McAleer continued in his career as both player and manager for another six years until his final game in 1907. Coming back to the roots of his hometown, he went on to live out his days until he passed away in 1931 at the age of 66. As you stand over this historical player and look out among those who surround him, you will find that you can spend a lifetime listening to the voices from the past as they far outnumber those which have been touched upon here. In a sea of faces that have gone on before you, it is a peaceful place, silenced in death but alive with accounts spanning over two centuries, speaking to those who will take a moment to listen.
© Olivia Wolfe ~ 2012