Mystery Series #6, and #7
Your mystery journey continues at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton, just a few hundred yards from the University of Dayton campus. This beautiful cemetery is also an arboretum; many of the trees are in the National Register and sport little silver number tags. Be sure to stop in at the main office for a map and more information. Many famous people reside here, such as the Wright Brothers, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Erma Bombeck, the mysterious King of the Gypsies, and Carleton Smith, creator and donor of Smith Gardens in Oakwood, a treasure well worth discovering in it’s own right.
Don’t strap on your hiking boots until you’ve visited the virtual Woodland at www.woodlandcemetery.org, and checked out this pretty cool website. Surprisingly, there are other things to see there besides these 3 letterboxes! Take a moment and print out the map.
You will be heading to Section 112, also known on the grid as “O 7”.
From Interstate I 75, take the Edwin C Moses Blvd. Exit and turn north onto Edwin C. It curves along next to the Great Miami River; you will pass UD Arena and Welcome Stadium on your left. Turn Right at Stewart Street and cross the river on this WPA era bridge.
After a couple of lights, you will cross Brown Street and see the gateway to University of Dayton. Alberta Street comes up quickly on your left; turn Left. Turn Right onto Woodland Drive and into the entrance gates of Woodland Cemetery.
After you pass the Mausoleum building on your right, you have three choices: a sharp right, a gradual left, or a sharp left. Take the gradual left. There are a few gentle curves, then an oblique intersection. Go straight through the intersection (Gee, it would really help if there were street names). See a little sign on your right that indicates the Wright Brothers’ gravesite? Pull over and get out of your vehicle.
Ahead of you to the left on the curving corner, find the large obelisk for SIMMS. Walk around back to find Buda Peck Simms. 104 years old—wow! Her unusual first name was given in honor of the fact that she was born while her parents traveled in Budapest—not too common in that era. With your back to Buda, take a compass heading of 330°. Find the tree with the little silver arboretum tag #607. This used to be the site of Box #5, but this ancient tree is rotting from the inside out, so no go.
From the tree, take a new heading of 270°--yup, up the big hill. Find a rectangular family area, marked out in granite curbs. Welcome to the Andrews family plot. There are two primary monuments, a square rose granite one, and beyond, a white marble one, much blurred by the years. Find Sera M. Simpson. She guards Box #6.
Before you go for the next box, take a heading of 180° to see a couple of very unusual things. There is a truly unique sculpture, designed to look like a piece of stone wall, with a parchment spread out, and topped by a goblet spilling flowers. Just beyond this, examine the tree roots—two stones are being consumed by this huge old tree. The downhill one is beyond reading; the uphill one may still be read—“Mother”. Hmm
OK, return to Buda Peck and look across the street—see the flags? The single flag roadside marks the grave of Poet Laureate Paul Lawrence Dunbar. The triple flags mark the Wright Family memorial and graves. People seem to be leaving pennies here—why do people do that, I wonder?
If you are adventurous, try to find the large brown granite obelisk of the SMITH family, and the resting place of Carleton Smith. It is near the road, sort of back toward where you parked—now where was that again? Carleton donated the private gardens adjacent to his home to the City of Oakwood upon his death. Surf to www.ci.oakwood.oh.us and check out photos of this hidden gem, just 10 minutes from Woodland in the suburb of Oakwood. They are open daily during daylight hours. Most spring and summer weekends will see bridal parties taking photos, and even some weddings are held here.
OK, back to the car, back to the main entrance. Remember that sharp right just past the mausoleum? Take it. At your first possible left, turn to see one of the most famous markers and Tour Stop 1—Johnny Morehouse and his faithful dog. Be respectful of the toys and gifts. Many people leave tributes in memory of other children. Johnny is sort of everyone’s little boy lost.
Standing at the dog’s nose, take a compass heading of 230°. No compass? If Fido points to 12 noon, your heading is about 9:30. About seven adult paces will bring you to three monuments and a shaggy bush. Before the bush is William S. Mathison. CAREFUL—the top of this monument is wobbly. At the base is Box #7. Be cool—tons of people drive by here, and there is a maintenance building with staffers in and out all the time. We put an Ohio-shaped rock in there to both guide you and hide the box—replace with care.