Boxplorations: Woodland Cemetery Articles of Association, 1841

In our latest edition of date-related “boxplorations,” today 4/14, we took a look at manuscript collection number 414 — MS-414: Woodland Cemetery Collection (click to view PDF finding aid) — which contains materials relating to the organization and business ventures of the Woodland Cemetery Association, from 1841-2010.

This collection is quite large at 114 linear feet (over 150 boxes), so there were many boxes to choose from for our “boxploration.” However, for this first round—after all, we can always visit this collection again later!—we zeroed in on one of the oldest items in the collection: the Woodland Cemetery Articles of Association (dated January 25, 1841).

Woodland Cemetery Articles of Association, Jan. 25, 1841 (MS-414, Box 27, File 1)

Woodland Cemetery Articles of Association, Jan. 25, 1841 (MS-414, Box 27, File 1)

Please note that the reddish tint shown in images of the Articles of Association does not exist on the original document. The document is encapsulated for preservation purposes, and the red hue is a reflection of the red light on the camera used to capture these images.

Here is some background information regarding the creation of Woodland Cemetery, from A. W. Drury’s History of the City of Dayton and Montgomery County, Ohio (1909), Vol. 1, p. 598:

In 1840, a movement was made to establish a rural cemetery…[to replace the Dayton's original burial grounds on Fifth Street]. Mr. John W. Van Cleve made the suggestion and was most active in promoting the object. To him more than to any other the city is indebted for the beautiful cemetery and for the property which has attended the enterprise from the beginning. He and Samuel Forrer, both capable engineers, lent their skill to the laying out of the grounds…

Articles of association were drawn up by Mr. Van Cleve and fifty-two subscribers obtained. Each subscriber agreed to pay into the treasury one hundred dollars to be repaid to him without interest either in burial lots or in money, when the affairs of the association justified. In a short time the claims of the subscribers were liquidated, the majority of them taking lots in payment…

On the 29th of April, 1841, a deed was received from Augustus George for forty acres of ground at forty dollars per acre…

In 1842 a charter was obtained from the legislature. By the provisions of the articles of association and the charter, Woodland Cemetery is a close corporation…

The original Articles of Association, shown above, were written by John W. Van Cleve’s own hand, and the signatures of Van Cleve and the other subscribers can be seen at the bottom.

Detail of Woodland Cemetery Articles of Association, showing date, as well as Van Cleve's and other signatures

Detail of Woodland Cemetery Articles of Association, showing date, as well as Van Cleve’s and other signatures

Several of Dayton’s most prominent and well-known citizens subscribed to the cemetery. No doubt all of the subscribers were men of some wealth and importance, because $100 was no small sum in the year 1841 (between $2,000-3,000 in today’s dollars, according Westegg‘s and Measuring Worth‘s inflation calculators).

Among the signers of the Articles of Association are these men, whose names can also be found scattered throughout over Dayton’s early history books:

  • John W. Van Cleve (a lawyer who served several terms in various Dayton public offices, including city mayor, recorder, and city engineer; as son of Benjamin Van Cleve, he is frequently cited as having been one of the first white children born in Dayton, in 1801)
  • Robert C. Schenck
  • Henry Stoddard
  • Peter Odlin
  • John Steele and James Steele (brothers)
  • David Zeigler Peirce
  • Henry L. Brown (son of Henry Brown & grandson of Col. Robert Patterson)
  • James Perrine
  • Horatio Gates Phillips
  • Richard N. Comly (one of the proprietors of the Dayton Journal at the time, under whom it became the one of the largest newspapers in the state)
  • Samuel Forrer (canal engineer for the Miami-Erie Canal)
  • George Newcom (who, about 1798, built the famous Newcom Tavern, which still survives today)

The Woodland Cemetery Articles of Association is one of the truly magnificent items in the Woodland Cemetery Collection, but there is much more where that came from. To learn more about the contents of this collection, please view the Woodland Cemetery Collection finding aid (PDF), or ask us about it by email or phone 937-775-2092.

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New Exhibit: Frank Sinatra’s Dayton Connection

Frank Sinatra, undated (Dayton Daily News Archive)

Frank Sinatra, undated (Dayton Daily News Archive)

If you liked our exhibit about Phil Donahue’s Dayton Connection, then you should definitely check out our new companion exhibit to it, linking Frank Sinatra to Dayton: Six Degrees (give or take) of Dayton Separation: Dayton & Sinatra.

The exhibit, which is based on the “six degrees of separation” theory (as is the popular “Kevin Bacon game”), walks you through the relationship between Dayton, Ohio, and the iconic American singer and film star Frank Sinatra, in a series of hops.

You can see this exhibit on the first floor of the Dunbar Library, near the center stairwell (on the side facing the Creative Arts Center), from now through the end of summer.

Six Degrees of Dayton Separation- Dayton and Sinatra

Six Degrees of Dayton Separation- Dayton and Sinatra

Have we piqued your interest? Wondering what the connection actually is? We’ll give you a hint: it has to do with Sinatra’s home in Palm Springs. But you’ll just have to check out the exhibit for the rest of the details!

Six Degrees of Dayton Separation- Dayton and Sinatra

Six Degrees of Dayton Separation- Dayton and Sinatra


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Archives News – March 2014

Here is an update on our March activities here in Special Collections & Archives, in addition to our usual ongoing activities (reference, records management, collection development and manuscripts processing, digital initiatives, preservation, etc.):

March 7 – University Archivist Chris Wydman and other SC&A staff hosted two sessions/tours in the Archives for Wright State University’s Staff Development Day. Per the Staff Development Day theme of “Getting to Know WSU,” the sessions focused on the history of the university. The sessions went very well and were well-attended.

Staff Development Day, March 7, 2014

Staff Development Day, March 7, 2014

March 14 was the annual Wright State University Public History Symposium. This year’s theme was “Wright in Your Own Backyard.” This is a proud day for the Public History students, who organize the event and whose research comprise the majority of the sessions. It is an exciting day for us in the Archives as well, since most of the Archives staff teach in the Public History program, and we are so proud of our students, their hard work, and their interesting and inspiring projects!

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We’re proud of all the Public History Symposium presenters (shown here), March 14, 2014.

We were also excited to hear the Public History Symposium’s keynote address, given by George Willeman, a WSU alum and Library of Congress Nitrate Film Vault manager. Prior to the Symposium (on March 13), Willeman was kind enough to meet with Public History students for a roundtable discussion, as well as to take a tour of the Archives and give us some advice about some of our film collections.

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George Willeman giving his presentation at the Public History Symposium, Mar. 14, 2014. (Photo by Susanne Laing.)

March 17 – State Rep. Rick Perales visited campus to have a discussion with some of our Public History students on topics such as how to bring history into the K-12 classroom in new and interesting ways.

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State Representative Rick Perales and Public History Students having a discussion, March 17, 2014.

March 19-24 – Dawne Dewey, Head of Special Collections & Archives, traveled to California to attend the National Council on Public History’s annual conference. While in California, Dawne also visited with one of our donors.

March 20 – Archivist John Armstrong gave a session on “Aviation in the Wright Brothers’ Era” as part of the Wright State University Honors Institute.

March 21 – We congratulated one of our student workers (and Public History graduate student) Adam Becker on receiving a University Libraries’ Library Student Assistant Award. Adam was submitted for the award by archivists Chris Wydman and Gino Pasi. In addition to bragging rights (or should we say #braggingWrights?), the award includes a cash prize. (Another of our student workers, Victoria Penno, received one of these awards in November.)

2014-03-21 LSAA IMG_2646 Gino and Adam

Gino Pasi and Adam Becker, at the Library Student Assistant Awards, March 21, 2014. (Photo by Michelle Brasseur.)

March 22 – Archivist Gino Pasi gave presentation to a Mensa group. Having been told that the group appreciates a touch of comedy, Gino gave them a humorous look into how he got into the field of history, as well as what we do in Special Collections & Archives.

March 26 – The College of Liberal Arts sent a film crew to capture some footage for a forthcoming video for the History Department’s web site. A few of us, including Dawne Dewey, Lisa Rickey, and some of the Public History students were included in some of the filming. We’re looking forward to seeing the finished video!

2014-03-26 CoLA filming photo1

CoLA filming in the Archives, March 26, 2014.

March 27 – The first batch of 26 Civil War letters from the Oscar D. Ladley Papers (MS-138) became available on CORE Scholar.

Those were some of the highlights of March! We look forward to finding out what April holds!

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