“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Oberlin in Lorain County, Ohio — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Westwood Cemetery

Westwood Cemetery Marker, side one image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 24, 2019
1. Westwood Cemetery Marker, side one
Inscription.  Shortly after Oberlin Colony was established in 1833, a two-acre burying ground was set aside south of Plum Creek in the area bounded by Main, Morgan, and Professor streets. By 1861, however, with the town and Oberlin College growing and the Civil War escalating, the need for a larger cemetery became clear. After an extensive search, 27.5 acres of land belonging to Henry Safford were acquired one mile west of the center of Oberlin. H.B. Allen was hired to create a design in the style of the Rural Cemetery Movement, and in July 1864 Westwood Cemetery was formally dedicated. Burials in Westwood had actually begun in August 1863, and over the next few years hundreds of remains were reinterred from Oberlin’s “Old Cemetery” and from burying grounds in surrounding communities. In the mid-1860s the cemetery was enlarged to its present 47 acres, and in 2004 burials and memorials were estimated to number almost ten thousand.

Even though H.B. Allen’s design was not fully implemented, Westwood Cemetery reflects the basic goal of the Rural Cemetery Movement; that is, to provide a serene, park-like setting in which the living could enjoy a respite from daily pressures and become informed and inspired by memorials to the dead. The grave markers in Westwood bear testimony to Oberlin’s early and continued commitment to major national
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moral and social issues, chief among them abolition of slavery, higher education for all regardless of race or gender, defense of democracy, missionary activity, temperance, suffrage for all, and civil rights. Westwood’s first visitors came by horse and carriage, but today strollers and joggers, bird watchers and dog walkers, and genealogists and historians enjoy the peace and beauty of the cemetery. Westwood Cemetery is a City of Oberlin Historic Landmark and is part of the National Park Service's National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom program.
Erected 2004 by City of Oberlin, Oberlin Heritage Center / O.H.I.O., and The Ohio Historical Society. (Marker Number 47-23.)
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Cemeteries & Burial Sites. In addition, it is included in the Ohio Historical Society / The Ohio History Connection series list. A significant historical month for this entry is July 1864.
Location. 41° 17.219′ N, 82° 13.96′ W. Marker is in Oberlin, Ohio, in Lorain County. Marker is on Morgan Street, 0.7 miles west of South Professor Street, on the right when traveling west. It is just outside the entrance to the cemetery. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Oberlin OH 44074, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Charles M. Hall and Frank M. Jewett (approx. 0.7 miles away); Welcome to Oberlin Heritage Center (approx. 0.7 miles away); Willard Van Orman Quine (approx. 0.7 miles away); Oberlin College and Community / Abolitionism in Oberlin
Westwood Cemetery Marker, side two image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 24, 2019
2. Westwood Cemetery Marker, side two
(approx. ¾ mile away); Downtown Oberlin Historic District (approx. 0.8 miles away); Oberlin and the Underground Railroad (approx. one mile away); Antoinette Brown Blackwell and First Church in Oberlin (approx. one mile away); The Burrell-King House (approx. 1.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Oberlin.
Also see . . .  Downtown Oberlin Walking Tour of Civil War Monuments - Westwood Cemetery. Excerpt:
On June 8, 1864, citizens and students gathered at the cemetery to help clear the heavily forested acreage. Women of the community served dinner to the workers at noon. On the motion of James Fitch, the Oberlin Sunday School Superintendent, the name “Westwood” was adopted. An area was chosen and set aside for a place of burial for Civil War soldiers. The area is called, “Soldier’s Rest.”

The site was formally dedicated on July 16, 1864. The program included an address by Professor James Fairchild, music conducted by Professor C.H. Churchill and a prayer given by Oberlin College President Charles Finney. In 1944 The Cemetery Association transferred control of the cemetery to the City of Oberlin. In 1946 Frank Zavodsky became sexton for Westwood and re-mained such until his retirement in 1984. He was active and helpful in the affairs of Westwood until his death in 1997.

As in widespread 19th-century cemetery tradition, Westwood had a “Potter’s
Westwood Cemetery Entrance and Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 24, 2019
3. Westwood Cemetery Entrance and Marker
Field” (now indicated on cemetery maps as “OAP”) where poor residents whose families couldn’t afford a burial site were placed. This caused a class division that Oberlin recognized early on. The practice was discontinued and these types of burials are now conducted throughout the cemetery.

Today the cemetery is thought of as a memorial park. Many city residents walk, jog and bike the cemetery pathways. In comparison with other cemeteries, Westwood’s monuments are generally simple and plain; however, upon closer inspection, the inscriptions document who these people were that settled here during the formative decades.

The cemetery binds together Oberlin’s founding fathers with its city residents and whispers a story of a unique and profoundly dedicated town.
(Submitted on January 9, 2020.) 
The Underground Railroad Monument image. Click for full size.
Monument installed in 1993. Photograph by J.J. Prats, August 24, 2019
4. The Underground Railroad Monument
“In memory of
The fugitive slaves whose journey
To freedom brought them to Oberlin.

Shielded by an Almighty arm,
Thy griefs and sufferings now are over,
Beyond the reach of tyrant’s harm.
Freed Spirit, rest forever more!

Lone little wanderer, now no more
’Mid stranger hearts to seek for love,
Thou’st gained thy home, thy native short
and boundless love thy bliss will prove.

Thy Father called thee, suffering one,
He knew and felt thy untold grief.
To him complexions are all one.
He died alike for their relief.

Lee Howard Dobbins • Aged 4 yrs.
Died in Oberlin • A fugitive slave orphan
March 26, 1853.”
Westwood Cemetery, Oberlin Ohio image. Click for full size.
Photographed By J. J. Prats, August 24, 2019
5. Westwood Cemetery, Oberlin Ohio
Credits. This page was last revised on January 9, 2020. It was originally submitted on January 9, 2020, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 311 times since then and 23 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on January 9, 2020, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.

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Apr. 15, 2024