YOUNGSTOWN — Oak Hill Cemetery is a garden-style cemetery.
It was opened in 1854 and is located on Oak Hill Avenue across from the old South Side Hospital. Many prominent local residents are buried there, including David Tod, Ohio’s 25th Governor. Distinctive monuments and mausoleums characterize this urban cemetery.
Warren H. Manning, known for his “wild garden” designs, was commissioned as landscaper for Oak Hill.
“Oak Hill Cemetery is an excellent example of a mid-19th century rural cemetery“, explained Traci Manning, curator of education for the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.
Traci Manning is unrelated to Warren H. Manning, but has extensive knowledge of the local cemetery.
“These cemeteries were designed to create a pleasant and welcoming environment for walking, visiting the graves and even picnicking. Furnishings and landscaping underpin the park-like qualities of the cemetery,” she said. “These cemeteries were often built far from the city center and became destinations for visitors. The rolling landscape of Oak Hill is highlighted, and there are several historic images that show the garden-like designs.
Oak Hill is also home to a few victims of the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. While Manning said research to date has only uncovered a few burials from early pandemics, there may be more, especially in the “potter’s field” cemetery area. Manning said this area was reserved for people who could not afford a more standard burial.
Another interesting note for Oak Hill is the number of graves marked USCT, which stood for United States Colored Troops. They were colored men from Youngstown who fought in the Civil War. The graves were located through the efforts of Civil War historian Steffon Jones. In the Oak Hill lecture, Manning will highlight two such veterans, Oscar and Elisha Bogguess.
For Manning, the USCT tombstones are of particular interest. She said the Civil War has long been a study passion that began with a birthday present.
“I’ve been interested in the American Civil War since I was a young child,” Manning said. “My grandfather gave me an Abraham Lincoln coloring book for my third birthday and I’ve been hooked ever since.”
Manning’s presentation in the William Holmes McGuffey Historical Society’s Memories of a Lifetime lecture series at 10:00 a.m. Jan. 15 in the meeting room at Chad Anthony’s Grille, 4698 Belmont Avenue, Liberty, will not only highlight prominent of Mahoning Valley history, such as the Wicks and Tods, but will also include working-class families and even a scandalous murder.
“People will also be able to explore the history and symbolism of certain statues and monuments and discover the significance of some of the finest artwork in the cemetery.” she said.
The William Holmes McGuffey Historical Society was founded in 1961 in Coitsville. The company purchased the farm of William Holmes McGuffey, nationally acclaimed educator, children’s author and anthologist, located on McGuffey Road in Coitsville. Now known as McGuffey Wildlife Preserve, it was donated in 1998 to Mill Creek MetroParks, to make the 78 acres of woods, trails and an unusual geological feature called a drumlin open to the public.
The January 15 conference is open to the public. Membership admission is $5. Non-member admission is $10. Places are limited due to social distancing. For reservations or more information, call 330-726-8277.