Cleveland August 23, 2019
by Nikki Rhoades 9 Famous People Buried Right Here In Cleveland
Sometimes, the grass is much greener on the other side. Sometimes, however, the landscape at which you are longingly gazing is a cemetery. You know their names and their legacies, but these famous Cleveland residents came before your time. Just as some movie stars go down in history and infamy, these politicians, industrialists, and thinkers have left their mark on the world. You may not realize, however, that these famous individuals now call Cleveland their eternal home. It’s time for a trip to a few notable final resting places in some of the loveliest Greater Cleveland cemeteries.
1. James A. Garfield
James A. Garfield
lived just outside of Cleveland
, and, upon his passing, he decided to make this pretty place his eternal home. Garfield was the 20th president of the United States, but his term was cut short by assassination. Just 16 years after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Garfield’s doctors worked diligently to save his life. What they failed to do, however, was wash their hands. Their efforts initially seemed to help, and Garfield sat up, wrote, and talked. But things took a turn for the worse as infection set in. He lost nearly 100 pounds and decided to head out to New Jersey to join his wife in a seaside mansion while he recovered. Sadly, he did not. Infection, likely caused by a lack of knowledge of modern medical techniques, took the president’s life. He was buried in the Garfield Memorial, the most splendid structure in Lake View Cemetery.
2. Eliot Ness
Elliot Ness is a name that’s not unfamiliar to Americans. He is most famous for his Prohibition-era initiatives to bring down Al "Scarface" Capone, but he actually served as Cleveland’s Safety Director. Ness modernized the Cleveland police force in an era that sparked the
, a serial killer that dismembered his victims. Ness tried to track down the killer, but he never did. Instead, he burned the local shantytown to the ground, further displacing homeless individuals and leaving a bad taste in locals’ mouths. During his time here, he divorced his wife, remarried, and even caused a drunk driving accident. While he moved around quite a bit, he did return to Cleveland to run, unsuccessfully, for mayor. He died in Pennsylvania but ultimately returned to Cleveland for interment in Lake View Cemetery.
3. Ray Chapman
Ray Chapman spent his entire baseball career with one team – the Cleveland Indians – but perhaps not by choice. The young shortstop was, by all accounts, a talented athlete. Unfortunately, he’s now known as the only baseball player to die after being struck by a baseball. At the time of his death, balls were notoriously hard to see. They were scuffed and dirtied before pitchers launched them into the air, which camouflaged the white leather and also caused the ball to move somewhat erratically. In a game against the New York Yankees, Chapman was struck and killed. Purportedly, he did not move… assumed to have been unable to see the ball. Chapman was laid to rest in Lake View Cemetery.
4. Alan Freed
Cleveland is the home of rock and roll… but why? The answer lies in the legacy of Albert James "Alan" Freed. Though born in Pennsylvania, Freed moved to Ohio to pursue a college education. While here, he found an interest in radio, and he eventually transitioned into a career as a disc jockey. He had a passion for a particular type of music, a fusion genre that he called "rock and roll." The name stuck, and Freed came to be regarded as the father of rock and roll. He organized
the first ever rock and roll concert
here – unfortunately, it was so popular that many forged tickets were distributed and far too many attendees showed up, so it was shut down after just one song. Despite his legacy, his own life was tumultuous. He was married thrice, and his career was ultimately destroyed when it was discovered that he was accepting payola, or bribes from record companies to play particular songs. Ashamed and unattractive to potential employers, he moved quite a bit during his final years in search of work. He died in Palm Springs, California and was buried in New York. However, in 2002, his ashes came to Cleveland to be honored at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was permanently laid to rest in Lake View Cemetery.
5. John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller is a name that’s gone down in infamy despite great philanthropic endeavors. Rockefeller, as you’ve surely heard, is regarded as the richest man in modern history. He founded the Standard Oil Company in 1870, and he controlled the majority of U.S. oil at the company’s peak. The company violated antitrust laws and was broken into a number of smaller companies, but these pieces were worth even more as separate companies. Rockefeller was the first American to earn a billion dollars, and he used this wealth to shape modern philanthropy. Art, science, education, and overall public improvement were Rockefeller’s primary concerns. His wife had a passion for equal rights, so he donated generously to outlets that empowered and educated young black women. Here in Cleveland, Rockefeller donated land to form a public
. While he spent much of his time in New York and Florida, Rockefeller’s final resting place is in Lake View Cemetery.
6. Levi Tucker Schofield
Levi Tucker Schofield is a name you may not have heard, but you’ve doubtlessly seen his incredible work. A close friend of John D. Rockefeller, this Clevelander liked to dream big – and he designed buildings that were even bigger than anyone initially imagined. He designed the Mansfield Reformatory, as well as a number of other local buildings. His expertise designed some early Cleveland Public Schools, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Public Square, as well as a number of asylums throughout the nation. Before his career as an architect, Schofield (also shortened to Scofield) served in the Ohio infantry in the Civil War. Interestingly, serving alongside a future Ohio governor is likely what earned some of his earliest projects. One of his most notable designs, the Columbus Asylum, was considered to be one of the largest buildings in the world under one roof. Upon his death, he was laid to rest in the family crypt at Lake View Cemetery.
7. Sam Sheppard
is a name that’s hard to forget. This well-to-do physician married his high school sweetheart and started a family with her… but, unfortunately, she was murdered in his home while he slept. Hearing her cries, he fled to her assistance… but was knocked out cold. He was found guilty of his wife’s murder before a retrial proved him innocent. He settled in Columbus and fell into alcoholism before remarrying. He died and was initially buried in Columbus, but his son exhumed the body to clear lingering doubts of Sheppard’s innocence. After tests provided his innocence, he was reburied alongside his murdered wife in Knollwood Cemetery.
8. Danny Greene
To this day, the name Danny Greene continues to evoke chills. Like many of us, Danny was a born and raised Clevelander. Unlike the majority, Greene had a tumultuous lifestyle. His mother died just days after his birth, and he was passed from home to home (and even was left in an orphanage for a while) as a child. Eventually, Greene turned to a life of crime. This animal-loving pescatarian caught the attention of area mobsters and eventually formed his own crime family. Gaining enemies along the way, Greene was the target of several assassination attempts… and he killed several of his would-be assassins with bullets and bombs. He himself was killed by a car bomb, but his crimes were not forgotten. He was cremated and laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery.
9. Hector Boiardi
Ettore "Hector" Boiardi was not born in Cleveland, but he would go on to put down roots here in Northeast Ohio. His first restaurant, Il Giardino d'Italia, was opened at East 9th Street and Woodland Avenue right here in The Land. His delicious Italian food was an instant hit, and he joined forces with Wiener Grocery to perfect a canning process so that his offerings could be enjoyed outside of Cleveland. Sure enough, people loved his food! He branded his products under an Americanized name, Chef Boyardee, and continued to develop new products until his death in 1985. Today he is buried in All Souls Cemetery in Chardon.
Cleveland is an incredible story with a rich history, some of which is unforgettable… and some of which locals would prefer to forget. As interesting as the city is, the most interesting aspects of its atmosphere were shaped and influenced by yesteryear’s residents. Did any of these famous Clevelanders surprise you? Have you visited any of these cemeteries?
If you’re enchanted by the beauty of these Cleveland cemeteries, just wait until you discover the
waterfall hiding in Lake View Cemetery!
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