Inside the gates of Toledo’s 178-year old Forest Cemetery lie elements of our city’s history as a number of influential Toledoans are buried there. Through the research and hard work of two local historians, the stories of Toledo’s past have been brought to light.
Becky Visser—past president of Historic Perrysburg, a founding member of the Perrysburg Area Historic Museum, and co-author of Toledo’s Woodlawn Cemetery— and Gary L. Franks— author of five history books— have come together to write Toledo’s Forest Cemetery.
The book’s chapters are made up of influential people from different areas of life, such as pioneers, police officers, bankers and more. “For each section of people from the book there’s someone really interesting,” Franks said.
The authors do have a favorite pair. Miles Carrington and Theodore Casey were intertwined in all aspects of life. They were brothers-in-law and business partners. “They were grain merchants and they built one of the largest sailing ships, not only in Toledo, but, in the world at the time. They’re buried on the same plot so they’re bodies are together in death as they were in life. Just an amazing story,” Franks said.
A black woman named Frances Alexander Belcher, influential in the start of the Toledo cotillion, a tradition that still stands to this day. A member of the Toledo Chapter of the NAACP, Belcher founded The Bronze Raven, a weekly newspaper for the African-American community. But she’s in an unmarked grave. “That made me feel so bad, she did a lot for Toledo and we don’t talk about her, she’s totally lost,” Visser said.
The book took three years to complete. “You get attached to these people. Some stories I couldn’t type fast enough, some I had to leave my office to take a moment. They lived with me, you create a bond and some of them you mourn,” Visser said. The people buried in Forest Cemetery shaped the Toledo of today. Remembering the history of the city is instrumental in it’s growth. Toledo’s Forest Cemetery is an incredibly interesting read with a lot of heart behind it. “We’ve had a lot of fun doing this,” Franks said.
Forest Cemetary is located at 1704 Mulberry St.
‘Toledo’s Forest Cemetery’ is available for purchase at The National Museum of the Great Lakes, the Toledo Police and Toledo Fire Museums, the Toledo History Museum and Encore Books on Heatherdowns.