Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Aviation Trail Part 1

Shortly after arriving in Dayton, Ohio I started dragging the kids to the Wright Brothers Sites in our area. Oh, and there's a lot of them. Imagine that! So we began our tour of the Aviation Trail.

We picked up some "Passports" so we could get a Wilbear Wright aviation teddy bear... I mean, we were going to see the historical sites anyway, we might as well earn something out of it.
Before winter we had received almost enough stamps for the prize but then it became too cold and the 2 stamps left I wanted to get meant being outside. Now that the weather has warmed up I decided it was time to finish them off.

Where did we go?

A cemetery, for one.

You may think that's strange, and I admit it kind of is. But I find cemeteries to be interesting places. Almost anywhere you go in the world you can see how different countries and cultures treat their dead and how environments influence that. And the Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is not your normal cemetery. I found it beautiful.

Let me start from our beginning. First you have to know that this place is still an active cemetery, over 200 acres, and though surrounded by the city you feel very secluded with all the trees and strong nature presence. We parked at the main center to check in and get our stamps. I was very serious with Will and Alanna before we even got out of the car that this was a "quiet place" and we have to be quiet. We had to be well-behaved - no running, no yelling, and they had to stay with me. There was no walking or climbing on the "rocks" (headstones) and we have to be careful walking on the pathways and in the grass. I was sure to remind them throughout our visit, and they both did amazing!

When we got into the visitor's center I was greeted by two very friendly people. They were quite smiley and welcoming and they were telling me how much they enjoyed visitors. William told them about the light bulb burned out and Alanna was being coy and cute. They asked me what graves we were looking for, gave us a map (with directions), and provided some helpful and insightful information. The Woodland Cemetery is a tourist attraction and I was very pleased with the personal interaction we received.

Back into the van we went to drive to the Wright Brothers' family plot. But as we started our drive I spotted Johnny Morehouse's headstone. He was a 5-year-old boy who died in 1860. He was playing near the river one day and fell in. The dog jumped in to rescue him and pulled him ashore, but it was too late, Johnny had drowned. Legend says that after Johnny was buried, the dog was found staying at his grave. Local people would bring the dog food and water and (according to rumor) the dog eventually died there and was buried with Johnny. Later this beautifully carved headstone was placed and people often decorate it and leave toys.
We weaved our way around and found the graves we were looking for: Orville and Wilbur Wright. It is a very large memorial for them. Wilbur died in 1912 from typhoid at age 45 and Orville lived on until 1948 when he died at age 76 after his second heart attack.
Just up a couple rows and to the left is the grave of Paul Laurence Dunbar, famous African-American poet & author, and friend of the Wright Brothers. He died at age 33 from tuberculosis. His mother is buried next to him.
The writing on his headstone is from his poem A Death Song and it reads:
Lay me down beneaf de willers in de grass,
Whah de branch'll go a singin' as it pass;
an'w'en I's a-layin' low,
I kin hyeah it as it go,
singin', "Sleep, my honey tek' yo 'res' at las'."

Since I had done a little bit of research before trekking out there I knew of a couple other graves I wanted to find so the kids and I took a stroll... I tried really hard to not get lost in that massive land of headstones.

Oh, something else... if you're a regular reader, you know Ryan and I are pretty big Doctor Who fans. Thanks to that show I am now a bit paranoid about stone angels. Every time I saw one I swear my heart would skip a beat and I found myself looking over my shoulder involuntarily.
While wandering about we came across the grave of a Medal of Honor recipient, Capt. Charles Goodwin Bickham. He fought in the Philippine-American War. I wasn't even aware of such a war until I read up on this guy.
The other monument I was looking for was the Stanley Family plot. Levi and Matilda Stanley were King and Queen of the U.S. Gypsies. You can read about them HERE.
you can barely make out the carving on their monument
Like most cemeteries, there was a section for veterans. I'm sure there were more areas, but the main one I found was for Civil War Veterans.
As I mentioned, Woodland is a rural cemetery in the midst of the city. It is near Dayton University. The entire time I was there with Will and Lana we saw people out exercising and exploring. The cemetery also hosts run/walks and offers walking and Segway tours. Many of the tours are about the famous and interesting people and monuments found there. Thing is, the land is kind of hilly and steep so I'm sure you'd be getting a good workout. In the future I'd like to take a couple of the tours, but probably without the kids.
There was more to admire at the cemetery before we headed out to our second location for our Aviation Trail stamps. We drove to the top of the hill to check out the Lookout. From there you can see the skyline of Dayton. And with such a clear day it looked quite nice.
After that, we headed down near the bottom of the cemetery and viewed the duck pond. There were Canadian geese nesting so we didn't actually get out, but we did see a turtle and some ducks.

We had a nice, peaceful trip to the cemetery... it was kind of weird explaining that I took my kids to a graveyard but it was a very interesting place and I actually want to go back.

I'll share about where we went later that day in my next post.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think it's weird at all. I'm fascinated by history and graveyards tend to fall into that. I remember visiting the one in Gettysburg in highschool. It was absolutely beautiful and so moving.

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