Lakeside Cemetery in Bay Village is the resting place for many of the area’s founding fathers.
Platted in 1814, headstones there carry names familiar to most who drive through the area: Cahoon, Wolf, Osborn, Foote and others.
Each Memorial Day, the annual community parade from Cahoon Park finds its destination there, and city fathers gather with citizens to honor those whose sacrifices have kept our country free.
Today, thanks to an investment by the Bay Village Historical Society and the hands of Bay Village Service Department employee Jim Sears, the cemetery is being restored and renewed in ways that once more bring these founding family names to life.
“I only need visit the graveyard of a community to know the character of the people….”
That quote from Benjamin Franklin is the call being answered by Sears, who attended a workshop last summer thanks to tuition donation from the Historical Society.
“The man who ran our training last year is part of a group known as the Gravestone Guardians of Ohio,” says Sears.
“The quote really meant something to me, and I am working on making our cemetery look the best it can.”
Significant improvements are already evident within the overall project. Sears hopes to complete it in time for next year’s Memorial Day gathering.
“I try to put it in perspective. If my family members were lying to rest here how would I want their stones and cemetery taken care of?” says Sears.
He uses several steps in bringing dramatic rehabilitation to the markers, headstones and gravesites. The steps include cleaning the marble with a special, environmentally-friendly mix, resetting the footstones and, eventually, re-levelling some of the bigger makers with the use of heavy equipment.
“There is still a lot of work I have to do and I look forward to getting it done,” he says.
Passers-by remark on the difference the work is making. “I have had some residents stop and ask about what I am doing. They thought it was really great to see the improvements being made,” he says of the days he is on-site. “It is really amazing the difference it makes and how much improvements the cemetery needs.”
As a home-grown Bay resident, Jim takes special pride in this labor of love.
“I know personally from growing up in Bay Village – and now working here – there are a lot of people who appreciate the history of Bay Village. But there are also a lot of residents who don’t know too much about the history or that the cemetery exists. I take a lot of pride in restoring the cemetery because I know a lot of the original settlers and founders of Bay Village are buried there. So, it’s an honor to do the work.”
Lakeside Cemetery is the first public burying ground in Dover Township, which is now Bay Village, Westlake and the northern portion of North Olmsted.
The cemetery was created after settler Reuben Osborn donated land to bury two people who drowned attempting to cross the Rocky River by boat. Additional land was later purchased to bring the site to its current size.
Interments were not recorded until 1879. However, there are more than 270 known burials. Among those interned are veterans from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and World War I.
Lakeside Cemetery is located on the Lake Erie shoreline just west of the Huntington Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks along Lake Road.