The Secrets of the Cemeteries
by Miranda Moonlight (book excerpt)
The cemeteries of Sylvania, Ohio date back in time to the 1830s and hold the remains of more than 90,000 departed souls. The Spirited Side of Sylvania makes its presence known regularly here, gifting the living with a variety of unexplained sightings and phenomenon, enough to keep ghost hunting skills well-sharpened and well-used.
Ravine Cemetery and St. Joseph Cemetery (Est. 1840)
This is a small burial ground with a great ravine running down the middle. The ravine is a geologically unique feature that in Sylvania can only be found here in the cemetery. Sand deposits along the sides suggest glacial activity, and a bit of extra charm is added by Ohio’s biggest sassafras tree, which is over 150 years old and certified by the State of Ohio. A century ago, this ravine was filled with water, damned up for the mill below down on Ten Mile Creek.
The Lady in White has been reported here often, with various explanations for her presence that include having several husbands but a burial near one she disliked; or she was a lost bride; or she was a vengeful lover. But she most resembles Minerva Starr, the devoted mother of a cemetery caretaker and a woman with a secret past (see verified family tree below). Minerva’s son was one of the most notable stewards of Ravine Cemetery, Irving Stow. The caretaker died in 1962 and is buried at the same hallowed grounds he cared for.
Noted activity: Caretaker’s ghost; shadow figures, white mist, transparent woman, woman weeping, sensations of being touched on the arm, screams, ink-black blobs moving between tombstones, short half-human shapes jumping over tombstones, elderly figure walking with
cane, strange animal sounds.
Association Cemetery (est. 1830)
Sylvania co- founder Judge William Wilson is buried here, and his counterpart, General David White, is also.
The two men had a falling out in life that split the town in two and developed into a white-hot hatred. White was active in the Temperance Movement to ban alcohol. Wilson opened owned a bar in Sylvania and served alcohol to the residents. White was a vocal opponent of Ohio in the Ohio-Michigan war, and proclaimed that his half of Sylvania, which he named "Whiteford," was under Michigan rule. Wilson wanted Sylvania to be part of Ohio.
Many believe that an extreme level of emotion can stay in a place forever, and the unending fury of White and Wilson, and their fighting factions, possibly contributes to the uneasy atmosphere at Association Cemetery. But Wilson and White are not alone here--there are many tragic tales of loves lost too soon, civil war deaths, and even murder carved into the tombstones of Sylvania’s oldest existing graveyard.
Noted activity: Transparent figures; full body apparitions, glowing shape hovering over tombstones; shadow figures, whispers, ghost cat.
Wolfinger Cemetery (est. 1835)
Jacob Wolfinger built a log cabin and buried his two children here and that was the start of the cemetery. In 1953 Secor Park was dedicated, adjacent to the cemetery and running along the border of Sylvania. This is a place long known as “out in the country” to locals, an area where many deaths, murders, and even satanic cult activities in the surrounding fields and abandoned farmhouses are rumored to have occurred and have been investigated by authorities. Multiple murderers dumped the bodies of their victims “out in the country,” here in the ditches near Secor Park.
Noted activity in the cemetery: Apparitions of children running and laughing, a wandering farmer, shadow figures, transparent woman, strange cries and howls, orbs, voices.
Toledo Memorial Park
This cemetery runs along and over North Branch as it meets Ten Mile Creek, and is adjacent to the older historic neighborhoods of Sylvania. The catacombs inside the cemetery is a beloved legendary place, where construction was started on an underground mausoleum, but later abandoned. Decades ago thrill seekers of all ages would wander through the catacombs, often on a dare, and follow the empty vault back into the dark until their courage took them no further. Too many unexplained events in that place to list. It became a place of great unearthly affection, to the point where clubs in town in the 70s were even named after it. The local church group for teens changed their name to “The Catacombs,” and it also became the name of a basement hangout on Main Street for teens. Mention “The Catacombs” to old timers in Sylvania today and you will get an earful of exciting adventures and ghostly goodies.
Noted Activity: Former cemetery employees have claimed that they personally have experienced things that couldn’t be explained, often involving reoccurring apparitions near specific sites, and multiple unexplained phenomena during or right after burials. Two employees claim to have seen the same apparition. Haunted catacombs.
It is important to note that there are records of Native Americans, early pioneers, government surveyors and toll collectors, and traders living in isolated and scattered locations throughout the Sylvania and Lucas County area, dating back to at least the 1600s. In the days of old, the dearly departed often were buried on family land, or wherever in their travels death rudely interrupted them. Where is the eternal resting place of those who died before 1830, those whose days among the living have long been forgotten? With no answer to be found, one more haunting question arises for locals to ponder… What’s in your backyard?
*Read more in the new book Haunted Sylvania, The Book of Truth, Magic, and Mystery!
Association Cemetery in Sylvania, Ohio
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