Thursday, March 24, 2011

Local Lore's Self Guided Tour - The Mentor Cemetery

Since 1854 the familiar street names of Reynolds, Munson, Sawyer, Parker, and Garfield are known to generations of Mentor citizens.  What is often forgotten is the prominent role many of these names played in the development of Mentor.  In 1854, a group of citizens worried about the future resting spot of their families.  Remembering the neglected burial plots of their New England ancestors, and hoping to avoid the possible abandoned burial sites of local farm families, David Hopkins, Robert Murray, Martin Sawyer and others formed a committee to establish a municipal cemetery.  At a cost of $400, ten acres of property deeded to the schools at the intersection of Mentor Avenue and Center Street became the site of the first municipal cemetery in Mentor.  The need to build Mentor's first school forced a cemetery relocation to its final site in 1858.  Today the cemetery sits on 60 acres of property, of which 39 acres are in use.  A self guided walking tour through the cemetery can be the best local history lesson plan for any student, young or old.  Listed below are some of the more notable tombstones with a story to tell.

Sec. 15  Garfield
James A. Garfield became a Mentor resident in 1876.  Although President Garfield was buried in Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, his family and son are buried in Mentor.

Sec. 1  Munson
Ashbel Munson arrived in Mentor around 1820.  Horatio Munson, Harry Munson and other family members resided in Mentor from 1844-1963.  Their 1865 home (7050 Jackson Street) still stands.

Sec. 2  Colonel Warren Corning
The Corning family came to Mentor in 1810.  Their family sold the Dickey Farm property to James A. Garfield.  That property is now known as Lawnfield.

Sec. 14  Wyant
Melvin E. Wyant was a noted nurseryman and judge.  A rose specialist, Melvin secured over 30 patents in his lifetime.  His purchase of 10 acres west of King Memorial Road became known as Johnnycake Ridge Road.  His home was surrounded by over 2000 rose plants.

Sec. 14  Yaxley
In 1926 Deputy Marshall Lawrence R. Yaxley became the first law enforcement officer in Mentor.  His death from an accidental shooting occurred in 1927.  Yaxley is listed on the Washington DC Law Enforcement Memorial.

Sec. 1-9  Parker

Charles Parker was the first settler in Mentor.  His brother Clark joined Charles as a surveyor of the Western Reserve.  Clark remained in Mentor and became the first postmaster in Mentor.  A grandson named Colonel helped establish Lake County's Fairgrounds.

Sec. 4  Sawyer
Joseph Sawyer opened the first grist mill in Mentor circa 1810.  Sawyer then became a prominent nurseryman.  His home is still located on Mentor Avenue.  It is known as the Sawyer House Restaurant and Tavern.

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