That's Soooo Cincinnati

Just Dig It

Dec 24, 2003 at 2:06 pm
Ryan Greis

Here's a grave thought: Cincinnati is the city where the American Cemetery Association was founded. The plot thickens even more: The town is also home to Spring Grove Cemetery and Botannical Gardens, one of the country's largest cemeteries.

Don't think of it as just another graveyard. Spring Grove is a local treasure, a botannical wonderland and a great place to unearth history. Here you'll find the final resting spots of the town's first millionaire, Nicholas Longworth; Salmon P. Chase, Lincoln's treasury secretary and a Chief Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court; inventor Powel Crosley Jr.; William Procter and James Gamble; nine Ohio governors, 25 Cincinnati mayors and the parents of Presidents Taft and Grant.

These days, the place is as much as about life as death. Regular events at the cemetery include ice cream socials, carriage rides, jogging runs, big band concerts, floral displays, even marriages in the chapel.

And, interestingly, Spring Grove is a hot spot for gypsies from all over the country, who gather each Memorial Day for a special tribal celebration. The gathering began after Spring Grove allowed one of the gypsy kings, who happened to be traveling through Cincinnati in the 1940s when he died, to be buried for free. The gypsies return each year for this very secret pilgrimage to the cemetery, according to the Cincinnati Historical Society. "On Memorial Day, the gypsies come to Cincinnati, all driving the same kind of car," says one docent. "It used to be Cadillacs, but now it's a particular brand of SUV."

Making something a top secret when it doesn't have to be. Burying the truth six feet under. That's soooo Cincinnati.

THAT'S SOOOO CINCINNATI highlights the area's quirky assets, hidden gems, unique personalities and criminal secrets — and reprises one of the most popular features in CityBeat's 10-year history.