"" Writer's Wanderings: Who's Buried in Garfield's Tomb?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Who's Buried in Garfield's Tomb?

Sure. I know. The joke is supposed to be about Grant but as we were out visiting cemeteries in the Cleveland area to get some more information for my husband's genealogical pursuits, we discovered that James A. Garfield was actually buried in the Lake View Cemetery which is near University Circle in the Cleveland are. In fact, there is a huge monument that houses his crypt, one that is said to be the largest for any American president.

It took us a few minutes to find it since we really didn't know what we were looking for. Certainly we didn't anticipate the huge structure that we found. We were simply following signs that said Garfield Monument. Luckily it was open (the schedule has it open from April 1 through November 19, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.) so we parked the car on the side of the road, grabbed the camera and started up the steps.

James A. Garfield was actually born in 1831 in what is now known as Moreland Hills, OH, and grew up in the area. He worked as a driver along the Erie canal, guiding the mules that pulled barges and earned enough money for his education. Late he went on to become a professor at what is now Hiram College in Hiram, OH, and a year later was made president of the college.

He served in the Union Army during the Civil War and in 1862, Ohioans elected him to Congress. He became the Republican leader of the House and in 1880 was the party's nomination for president. In January of 1881, he took office but it was not to last long. on July 2, 1881, Garfield was mortally wounded by a disgruntled attorney who had been turned down for a consular position. He died of an infection to the wound on September 19, 1881.

The memorial is quite impressive as you can see from the pictures and in the base of it is the actual crypt with the flag draped casket of the president and beside it his wife's. Two urns are there also which contain the ashes of their only daughter and her husband.

We explored several levels of the memorial and marveled at the murals and the mosaics. Had it been a clear day, the view of Cleveland from the upper balcony windows would have been quite nice as well.

All of that history was right in my backyard all this time. How did I miss it? I never liked history in school so it's quite possible it went right by me and I just ignored it. Guess when you are old enough to feel a part of history you take more notice.

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