The weathered, gothic stone facade of this historic graveyard can be found just a few yards across the street from Jacobs Field in Downtown Cleveland.  In addition to its appeal to local history buffs, Erie Street Cemetery also holds the title to being one of the oldest haunted sites in Cleveland.

The gravesites found along either side of this pathway are part of Cleveland's second-oldest cemetery.  Established officially in 1826, it contains the graves of Cleveland's pioneer families as well as the city's early politicians and popular figures, some of whom passed away much earlier.  Several graves contain the bodies of those who passed away much earlier than 1826, but were moved from the old Ontario Street cemetery and reburied here.


 

 

These weathered gravestones mark the graves of Lorenzo Carter and his wife, Rebekah.  Lorenzo takes credit as being Cleveland's first white settler.   He first built a log house for his family, then established a trading post,  general store and central gathering point in the Flats for Cleveland's settlement.  It is hard to imagine Cleveland as a vast, wooded, untamed region.  Yet, the Carters persevered, raising 9 children and fighting against various diseases and the elements.  The plaque above their tombstones reads:  They remained--Others fled.

Lorenzo died in 1812 after a long, painful battle with mouth cancer.

 

Still visible among the dirt and grass that threaten to overcome this tombstone is the grave of Mr. and Mrs. Best.  He died February 14th, 1850 at the age of 73.  She died just 2 & 1/2 weeks later, on March 5th, at the age of 66.

 

 

These well-preserved tombstones mark the graves of Merrick and Lovisa Ely.  The Elys owned a farm on Kinsman Road, approximately 5 miles from what is now Public Square. 

To get an idea of what life was like for the Elys in Cleveland at this time,  one genealogist remarked,  "Mr. Ely did not confine himself  exclusively to tilling [the farm], but carried on a business in Cleveland. The road between the two places was a wretched country road, one of continuous mud-holes; on each side of it were woods. Between Erie street cemetery and the Square was a long stretch of scruboaks." The Elys had 4 children before Merrick died in 1838 at the age of 45.  Lovisa lived on for many years, passing away at the age of 80.

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, as with most urban cemeteries, many of Erie Street's graves have succumbed to vandalism and the elements.

To the left is the toppled memorial for the Wellsted family plot.


 

 

 

The crypt for Bradburn, who was responsible for establishing the city's first high school.


 

This beautiful, well-preserved stone marks the grave of Harvey Dewey. He died on August 3rd, 1827 at the young age of 22.  The inscription on the top of his tombstone reads: “our days on the earth are as a shadow.”


 

 

 

This memorial plaque marks a section of the cemetery that holds bodies of those who were removed from the old Ontario Street cemetery.  The markers for these graves are featured below.


 

Left:  Eliakim Nash, who died December 28th, 1812 of a "malignant fever."  He was 39 years-old.

Right:  Joint gravestone of two men who drowned in Lake Erie on April 19th, 1808:  Stephen Gilbert, age 31, and Morphus Spafford, age 16.

 

 


 

 

 

The ground is gradually growing over these tombstones for Amy Lewis (left), "Wife of Reuben Lewis,” who died on June 10th, 1818, and Stephen King, who died March 6th, 1813.


 

 

 

Horace Pitkin, from East Hartford, Connecticut, who died December 30th, 1822 at the age of 20.

 

 

Memorial for Indian Sauk Chief Joc-O-Sot, 1810-1844.  This is the site of the cemetery's most notorious ghost.

Joc-O-Sot was a tribe leader who fought in the Black Hawk war against the U.S. in 1830.  At that time, he sustained a gunshot wound, but survived.

After the war, in an effort to earn money for his tribe, Joc-O-Sot later joined a vaudeville troupe in Cleveland.  During his theatre group's tour of England, he fell ill
as a result of complications from his gunshot wound from over ten years before.  His illness caused him to return to Cleveland.

 

Legend states that Joc-O-Sot knew he was dying and tried to return to his native land in Minnesota so to that he could die and be buried next to his ancestors.

He never made it out of Cleveland, and died within the Warehouse District.  He is buried at this grave in Erie Street Cemetery.

Joc-O-Sot's spirit never rested, they say.  He still wanders the cemetery, bitter over having been buried here instead
of his native land.

 

 

 

In anger, Joc-O-Sot's spirit shattered  his original tombstone. 

 

If he is having a particularly bad day, Joc-O-Sot also haunts the nearby Cleveland Indians Baseball Stadium.

 

 

 

Next to Joc-O-Sot's grave is Chief Thunderwater.  An Iroquois Indian Chief from New York, Thunderwater was a local celebrity, and was at one time credited for being the inspiration for the Cleveland Indian's mascot, Chief Wahoo.

 

One of more interesting mausoleums at the cemetery.



 

Gravesite of Revolutionary War Veteran Gamaliel Fenton.  A private in the Connecticut Militia, he also fought in the War of 1812.

Fenton came to Cleveland in 1832, and died in the cholera epidemic in 1849.  He was 87 years-old.

We're not sure if these items scattered around his gravesite are meant as a make-shift memorial or if they are just some homeless person's litter. 

 

 

 

 

Behind the cemetery's receiving vault, we found this trash, as well as signs that someone broke into the back entrance, perhaps a homeless person seeking shelter.  Creepy.

This row of brownstone markers have aged so much that they are no longer legible.

 

 

Resources:

For a listing of Erie Cemetery's more notable inhabitants, check out Vicki Blum Vigil's book, Cleveland Cemeteries. Or you may find some listings by checking out Find-A-Grave's on-line records.

For historical information about Lorenzo Carter, The Elys and other Cleveland settlers, check out The Pioneer Families of Cleveland 1796-1840 By Gertrude Van Rensselaer Wickham, (1914).

For more information on Joc-O-Sot hauntings, check out these links:

Cuyahoga County section of Ohio Exploration Society
Cuyahoga County section of Forgotten Ohio

For general information on Erie Street Cemetery, check out these links:

Michelle Day's article on Erie Street Cemetery
Sun Newspaper's 1998 article Stones and Bones