TOLEDO, Ohio — Beside Benjamin F. Stickney, one of Toledo's founders, many other important figures who were responsible for making the town as we know today are buried inside the Forest Cemetery in north Toledo.
"We had the founders here and the pioneers. We also have the first fire chief and the first police chief. We have ship captains here," historian and author Becky Visser said.
She and Gary Franks, who are Toledo natives, spent countless hours over a three-year period doing research to write their new book "Toledo's Forest Cemetery."
"We probably made over a hundred trips to the cemetery to locate the graves," Franks said.
The cemetery was established in 1840 and along with the Historic Woodlawn Cemetery located in west Toledo, they are the oldest graveyards in town.
"I wrote Woodlawn and I could see that we really should have started with Forest. This is the first generation. There are a lot of parallels with the two cemeteries and I can see where people get them confused," Visser said.
For Instance, you may have thought John Berdan who was Toledo's first mayor was buried at Woodlawn but it's his son who is buried there, according to Visser.
Franks and Visser said Berdan is one of the 16 mayors who are buried at Forest Cemertery. Besides him, former lawmakers, visionaries like Jesup Scott, builders like Edward Bissell and architect William Scott, who developed the Old West End, are all buried at there as well.
The authors discovered a few surprises along the way. One involved a Medal of Honor recipient.
"There was only one thought to be in here and that was an army fellow and that was Mark Wood. Then we discovered there's another Medal of Honor recipient in the cemetery here," Franks said.
With all their hard work, the authors want folks to take away an appreciation for the cemetery.
"This cemetery has had a lot of bad reps on the vandalism and people have just just said, 'Oh, it's an old cemetery.' No it's not. It's our founders," Visser said.
If you'd like to purchase the book, you can find it at The National Museum of the Great Lakes as well as at the Toledo Police and Toledo Fire Museums. Additionally, It's also sold at the Toledo History Museum and Encore Books on Heatherdowns.
Copies will also be sold at Harrison Rally Days in downtown Perrysburg on Sep. 21.
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