Monthly Archives May 2020

The interesting life of Emil Ambos, the fisherman of Green Lawn cemetery

At first glance, a visit to a cemetery in the midst of a pandemic can seem like an uncomfortably gloomy thing to do. Who should we remind of the fragility of our existence when the signs are all around us? On the other hand, cemeteries can offer a good alternative to overcrowded parks.

In fact, most American cities have at least one large cemetery that was designed as much to be a place of recreation for the living as it was a repository for the dead. In Columbus, that location is Green Lawn Cemetery.

Founded in 1848, Green Lawn was part of a shift in the mid-19th century from cramped urban cemeteries to rolling, well-maintained memorial parks. This was called the Rural Cemeteries Movement. The emphasis on beauty and scenery in such cemeteries makes them a great place to enjoy nature, but they offer much more than that. Their stones, statues, mausoleums and crypts tell us who we were, who we are and how we want to be remembered. Usually this is done subtly with a symbol here or a phrase there, but every once in a while you come across the grave of someone so vibrant that neither marble nor granite nor bronze can contain the spirit. of the person buried inside.

One of the best examples of such a monument in Green Lawn Cemetery is that of Emil Ambos, a fun-loving sportsman whose likeness is immortalized in bronze as he eternally indulges in his pass- preferred time, fishing. This life-affirming statue stands in stark contrast to the austere obelisks and dismal angels that commonly adorn tombs from this era. It also says a lot about the character of the person under his feet.

Emil Ambos’s grave. Photo by Bucky Cutright.

Emil was born in what was considered the aristocracy of the South Side in 1844. His father, Peter, arrived in Columbus from the Rhineland in 1832 and quickly made a name for himself by opening the first candy store in the city. Following his success, he later became a leader in industry and finance, co-founding what is now PNC Bank in 1863. Emil’s mother, Dorothea, was the daughter of a pioneer German village landowner. and retired captain in the Austrian army. , Christian Jaeger.

As a young man, Emil traveled to Gambier, where he studied botany at Kenyon College. After graduating, the 22-year-old gave up a career in his field of study and returned to Columbus to open a store specializing in the sale of fine liquors and imported food products.

Peter Ambos Image courtesy of the Columbus Metropolitan Library Digital Image Collection.

Like his father, Emil turned out to be a successful businessman and his store flourished. Rather than raising a family, he remained single and spent most of his adult life enjoying the finer things in his luxurious townhouse at 40 W. Town St. There he had a punch bowl. sculpted in the lava of Mount Vesuvius, Italian marble statues and a bathtub topped with zinc. A bridge on the second floor led to a stable where he kept his precious collection of nearly twenty horses and ponies.

While Emil clearly loved to surround himself with lavish decadence, he had also inherited his mother’s deep sense of empathy for those less fortunate. Each year, as the cold set in, he would take troops of poor and orphaned children to Lazarus, had them each put on winter clothes, and then happily sent them on their warm and joyful journey. He would lead this chaotic scene with his trusty golden-tipped walking stick, a precious accessory presented to him on New Years Day 1877 for having the most beautiful and fastest horse on Town Street.

A few months before Emil was given this fancy cane, he interrupted his single life to marry a young woman named Clara Owen. Their marriage ended abruptly three years later, following intriguing allegations that newspapers at the time would only describe as “rather racy in character.”

While the indiscretions that led to the couple’s divorce may have been kept private, one thing that was no secret was Emil’s love for fishing. It was said that he would jump at the slightest suggestion to cast a line at any time of the night or day. After his retirement, at age 39, his desire to fish only grew. To further indulge in his hobby, he purchased a 116-acre country getaway with Great Twin Lakes off Winchester Pike. He called this place Ambos Park.

Almost every day, Emil would recruit his family and friends to join him for an afternoon of leisure and relaxation by the lakes. Some of his most frequent guests were impoverished children, whom he often gathered for a brief escape from the polluted slums and the drudgery of their daily lives. To amuse the children, he built a “comic hut” on one of the small islands in the lake, with a small well for water and a stuffed deer in the yard. He also acquired a menagerie of animals that served as a petting zoo and a fleet of “fun boats” for children to navigate the lakes.

Emil Ambos Image courtesy of the Columbus Metropolitan Library Digital Image Collection.

One of Emil’s most unusual acts of benevolence took place on Christmas Eve in 1896. That night he threw a party that would have been as comfortable in a Roald Dahl story as in any. what was written by Charles Dickens.

The festivities began when 15 needy children were led out of the cold and into the opulent residence of Emil Town Street. For three hours that night, delighted guests watched the children playing games, singing, being fed a big feast (but not before Emil played a prank on the young by serving them water. enriched with alum) and received gifts under a Christmas tree topped with a possum in a silk hat. At the end of the evening, Emil remarked that these are some of the shortest and happiest hours he has spent in years.

The following winter was less cheerful. Following a brief illness, the beloved “Uncle Ame” of Columbus died of complications in the liver on March 26, 1898. He was 53 years old. But its story does not end there.

True to his legacy of charity and generosity, Emil bequeathed the most attractive 30 acres of his country estate to the city for use as a park. While debating whether or not to accept this gift, a city council member had questions for the deceased, so a psychic was hired to summon Emil’s ghost. Once communication was established, Emil Ambos’ ethereal voice told the city councilor that from the tomb’s perspective, he could see how many “short skates” the city council was and that he only cared about Columbus. have the land. Furious, the insulted man joined the council’s majority dissent vote and Emil du Parc’s gift was turned down. Eventually, the land was sold to a Grove City farmer before being converted into a golf course and finally into the Berwick area which occupies the site today.

Another provision of Emil’s will was that $ 1,000 would be donated to the children’s hospital, but not before the interest accrued on the money was used to host two jubilant fish fry banquets for his friends and fellow fishermen. These events, one in 1905 and the other in 1908, saw a downtown boardroom transformed into a natural wonderland, with ponds full of fish, tree-lined walls, tents pitched on sandbanks and waiters dressed as camp scouts. A life-size, strangely lit photo of Emil surrounded by plants and vines presided over both celebrations.

Looking back, a lawyer studying the elaborate 17 pages will comment: “If someone were to ask me if there is someone else I would rather be, I would say Emil Ambos. He looked like he was having so much fun.

In 2019, the statue that commemorates the short but well-lived life of Emil Ambos was deemed historically significant by the Smithsonian Institution and under the direction of the Green Lawn Cemetery Association the monument was fully restored, ensuring that the memory of his subject will live. for the coming years.

Ghost tours

To learn more about this and other mysterious stories about the University District and the city as a whole, venture out for an evening of dark stories from Columbus’ past offered throughout the year by Columbus Ghost Tours . Tickets and information available on www.columbusghosttours.com.

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Historic Green Lawn Cemetery Bike Tour

NOTE: This tour is largely outdoors and can be done safely with social distancing and proper safety precautions throughout. Do not hesitate to bring a mask if you wish.

Outdoor Pursuits has partnered with the Green Lawn Cemetery Association to provide guided tours of the Green Lawn Cemetery. The bike tour is narrated by naturalist and historian Randy Rogers. It’s a great way for the casual cyclist to experience the rich history contained in this large, iconic cemetery.

The tour will start and end in front of Green Lawn Abbey, a short distance from the cemetery.

Green Lawn Cemetery is one of the oldest and largest cemeteries in Ohio. The cemetery represents a vast treasure, encompassing over 200 years of history and is the resting place of many prominent residents of Columbus. The tour will stop at several locations for informative discussions of notable graves, monuments, family mausoleums, and the Huntington Chapel, to name a few. The cemetery is also home to 150 species of trees and several state champion trees, as well as a recognized bird sanctuary.

Columbus Outdoor Pursuits can provide easy-to-ride cruiser-style bikes and helmets, or you can bring your own bike and helmet (please indicate on registration). Please allow approximately 2 hours for the entire visit. Free parking at Green Lawn Abbey, 700 Greenlawn Avenue – the tour departure and arrival point. If the weather conditions do not allow a safe trip, we will reschedule or give you a full refund.

A portion of your registration fee goes to the Green Lawn Cemetery Association.


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Green Lawn cemetery wants to reclaim long unused plots – news – the Columbus Dispatch

Officials at Green Lawn Cemetery have issued a public notice that lists the names of approximately 150 cemetery land owners. They want to recover the lots, where the burial rights have been abandoned for 50 years. On the list is Samuel Prescott Bush, the patriarch of the Bush political family.

Many famous residents of central Ohio and Columbus are buried in Green Lawn Cemetery: Former Governor James A. Rhodes, World War I Ace Eddie Rickenbacker, Comedian James Thurber .

The same is true of Samuel Prescott Bush, the former chairman of Buckeye Steel and the grandfather of the late President George HW Bush, and the great-grandfather of former President George W. Bush.

And, it turns out that Samuel Prescott Bush owned a lot with 14 burial sites in Green Lawn, a fact that the extended Bush family apparently knows nothing about.

Samuel Prescott Bush died in 1948. He was one of some 150 lot owners at Green Lawn listed in a recent public notice indicating that the cemetery intended to recover the interment rights for these lots, which had been abandoned for 50 years.

Any other names on the list? William Oxley Thompson, Ohio State University’s fifth president, died 1933. John G. Deshler, builder of the Deshler Hotel, a landmark in downtown Columbus from 1916 to 1969.

Also, the city of Columbus. And the house of the friendless.

After the notice was published, nearly a dozen people called the cemetery to ask about the lots, said Randy Rogers, president of the Green Lawn Cemetery Association.

“If the next of kin enlist, the family renews the contract, that’s good for another 50 years,” Rogers said.

Sometimes cemetery officials want these lots to provide buffer zones around important sites, such as the Bush site. Other times, they might want the site so they can plant trees, Rogers said.

In an extreme case, a man bought 12 seats in the 1850s and never used them, Rogers said.

“One guess is he moved west,” Rogers said.

It took about 15 to 20 hours to go through the batch books to try to determine which batches were abandoned, he said.

Another person who found out that an extended family member had purchased land that was never used is Kevin Schoedinger, a family member who owns the local funeral homes with that name; he is executive vice-president. Schoedinger is also vice-president of the cemeteries association.

He said John Albert Schoedinger bought the lot in the 1930s.

“We have lost track of it,” he said. His father and two uncles have the rights to the site, he said.

It’s not that Green Lawn Cemetery is short of space, although 154,000 bodies are buried there. Of its 360 acres, 70 still need to be developed. The cemetery was founded on August 2, 1848.

Rogers expects Green Lawn to have enough space that it won’t be retired for another 100 years.

[email protected]

@MarkFerenchik


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