Graves from the Gilded Age

John Hay 1

I’m fascinated by the history of northeast Ohio. Especially its “Gilded Age,” in the last decades of the 19th Century and first decades of the 20th Century. So when my friend Jason texted me with a link to a story titled “Where to visit the eternal resting places of Northeast Ohio’s most famous souls,” I clicked over to the story eagerly. I don’t really care about Halloween all that much. The macabre has always been a weird aesthetic to me. Still, I appreciated the article as a reminder of the crazy confluence of people, places, and ideas with intimate ties to this region.

Northeast Ohio has played a significant role in the Industrial Age. The steel industry, the oil industry, and the rubber industry, in particular. So it makes sense that the titans who established and built those industrial empires are buried in this area. Lakeview Cemetery, in Cleveland, is a particularly interesting case in point.

But I love how the article demonstrates the way that Northeast Ohio has served as a center of innovation. In particular, the electrical lighting industry and the invention of the three-light traffic signal. It’s been a center of political power, with numerous presidents and cabinet members. And even broader cultural movements like Planned Parenthood and Alcoholics Anonymous. The thing that may have been most surprising to me, though, was Northeast Ohio’s connection to the food industry, including frozen foods (the Stouffer company), canned foods (Chef Boyardee), and “mystery meat” (Salisbury Steak)! The article also outlines a number of large-scale tragedies that have happened in our area, which I don’t think I’d ever heard of previously.

All in all, it’s a lot of interesting information for a single “fluff piece” on the local news media. Worth checking out, if you ask me.

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