Exploring Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati

Entrance to Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio

As a dedicated taphophile, I eagerly seek out cemeteries wherever I travel.  I am particularly interested in Victorian rural cemeteries.  On a recent visit to the Midwest, I had the opportunity to visit Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Grave of Carrie Hirley

Of course, I am always in search of prominent Civil War figures, but I also look for interesting cemetery art, great landscaping, and little (and sometimes large) mementos visitor leave behind.  A great example of this last was a grave stone of a child – Carrie Hirley.  Sadly, Carrie’s face has worn away and made the stone a little creepy.  Apparently he gets plenty of visitors, as evidenced by the many little tokens left at her feet.  There were many little toys, coins, jewelry and dolls.

Mementos left by visitors at Carrie’s grave.

Consistent with the design of 19th century rural cemeteries, Spring Grove was well landscaped, with many ponds, paths, beautiful trees and shrubs amidst the many hills and little valleys.

As I spend a lazy afternoon meandering through the cemetery, seeking to discover instead of using a map to guide me, I found a very nice Civil War soldiers monument in the middle of a little circle.  The bronze figure is startling to come across and very realistic.

Civil War soldiers monument in Spring Grove Cemetery.

One of the folks I knew was buried in Spring Grove, and thus on my short list of people to visit, was Joe Hooker.  I found the general on a hill overlooking a beautiful pond and not far from another person on my list.  Hooker was born in Hadley, Massachusetts in 1814. A graduate of West Point, Hooker distinguished himself in the Seminole and Mexican War before resigning his commission.  He returned to the army at the outset of the Civil War and rose to the rank of Major General.  For a time the playboy general commanded the Union’s largest eastern army – the Army of the Potomac before resigning at the beginning of the Gettysburg Campaign.

Monument of Gen. Joe Hooker in Spring Grove Cemetery.

Hooker died young.  At the age of only sixty-four, the general died in New York from complications from a stroke.  His body was buried in his wife’s hometown of Cincinnati.

Just to the right of Hooker’s monument and a bit down the hill sits the monument of Salmon Chase.  Born in New Hampshire in 1808, Chase enjoyed a remarkable career.  He was governor of Ohio, a U.S. Senator, prominent Republican candidate for president in 1860, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury and finally Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

The Chase family monument in Spring Grove Cemetery.

Chase made his home in the Cincinnati area for many years where he practiced law.  He became prominent in the anti-slavery movement – and some would label him an abolitionist.  After the death of his first wife – Katherine Jane Garniss – the Ohio lawyer became more devout.  A member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, Chase also taught Sunday school.

Chase’s daughter Kate, and other members of his family, are buried nearby.  Kate was especially close to her father and served as a prominent Washington, DC, hostess during the Civil War.  She married Rhode Island Governor William Sprague in 1863.

The third largest cemetery in the United States, Spring Grove was founded in 1844.  It is a certified Arboretum and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

5 Responses to Exploring Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati

  1. Thanks for this. I’ve always appreciated old, historic cemeteries and as a landscaper by profession, Hollywood in Richmond made me fall in love with the Victorian/Park style places of rest. When I’m next near Cincinnati, I will visit, reflect and maybe recreate…

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