As part of the Conference, we are offering the opportunity to visit Jewish cemeteries in Cleveland to pay respects to your family and to do further research. This is a joint program sponsored by IAJGS and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. For any questions, write to CemeteryTours@iajgs2019.org.
Table of Contents
- Tours Offered
- Signing Up
- Background Research
- Cemetery History
- Maps of Cemetery Locations
- Cleveland Cemeteries West
- Cleveland Cemeteries East
There will be two separate tours, each costing $25, with lunch provided.
- West Side: One bus on Monday, July 29, 2019, will go to several cemeteries on the west side of Cleveland.
- East Side: One bus on Tuesday, July 30, 2019, will go to several cemeteries on the east side of Cleveland.
The buses will leave at 9:15 am and return to the hotel by 3:30 pm.
You sign up for these tours through the Conference registration system. There is a section on the registration form for purchasing a ticket to each of the tours. When you do so, a section will open with a list of the possible cemeteries. Check off the ones in which you are interested.
Places are available on a first-come/first-served basis. Conference attendees may purchase one ticket for themselves and up to one guest ticket for an accompanying spouse/significant-other who is not registered for the Conference.
Keep in mind that the tour(s) will take place only if there is sufficient interest. Which of the many possible cemeteries are visited will depend on the number of requests and the times required for a visit. The decisions will be made as early as June 1.
In order to determine which cemeteries you would like to visit, you will need to research the burial location(s) of your family members. Here are some resources for doing that.
The Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland has a very useful page about the Jewish cemeteries in Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Lorain Counties (see HERE). If you click on the name of a cemetery in the table, more information will be displayed, including in most cases a Google satellite map of the cemetery. Where there is a “map” link to the right of the name, it will open a drawing showing the layout of the cemetery with its various sections labeled.
To find a person’s date of death, which cemetery the person is buried in, and where in the cemetery the person is buried, check out the database created by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, which has assembled much data on the burials (see HERE).
If you are looking for an obituary or death notice, try going to the website of the Cleveland Jewish News (CJN). Clicking on the Archive tab will allow you to search the CJN and the various earlier Jewish newspapers in Cleveland going back 125 years. When the Archive page opens, click on “Begin your Search” near the top of the page (it’s not obvious that the phrase is a link).
Death certificates can be found on the Family Search website. Click HERE to search for death certificates in the “Ohio Deaths, 1908-1953” database. Those will generally include the name of the cemetery.
The following public libraries in the Cleveland area have genealogy areas and access to databases (a library card may be required to access some material). If you can find obituaries, they will often direct you to the cemetery where the person was buried.
Across the street from Progressive Field on 9th Street is the Erie Street Cemetery, established in 1826 as a city cemetery. It is the oldest existing cemetery in Cleveland today. An earlier cemetery was on the site of the former May Company on Euclid Avenue at Public Square but the owner wanted the land for building purposes, so Leonard Case and a few other civic-minded men purchased 10 acres of land “far out of town”.
The remains of the pioneers from the original cemetery were removed to the Erie Street land. They included the first permanent white settler of Cleveland and John W. Willey, the first mayor. Also buried there is Leonard Case Sr., an agent for the Connecticut Land Co. and pioneer businessman, cultural leader, and founder of the Case fortune. He was buried there with his son, Leonard Case Jr., the founder of Case Institute of Technology (today Case Western Reserve University).
In 1840, the Israelite Society of Cleveland purchased one acre across the river in Ohio City to be used as a burial ground for their members and called it Willett Street Cemetery. They had originally requested a portion of Erie Street Cemetery, but their request was turned down because they wanted a separate section set aside to be used exclusively for Jewish burials. Due to the separation of Church and State, the city was prevented from segregating a portion of the public land for the Jewish request.
The first burial at Willett Street Cemetery occurred on Tisha B'Av, 1840. Most of the early burials were children rather than adults and the elderly. Willett Street Cemetery today is still maintained by Anshe Chesed Congregation (Fairmount Temple) and Tifereth Israel (The Temple). There are still a few burials taking place there.
Next came Fir Street Cemetery, also on the west side, which was established in 1865 by the Hungarian Aid Society (HAS), an organization formed in Cleveland in 1863 for the purpose of providing aid, including burials, to Hungarian Jewish immigrants.
Each Jewish Cemetery has it own story: why it was formed and which group was associated with the cemetery. Today there are 16 Jewish cemeteries in Cleveland and three other cemeteries with Jewish sections.
Maps of Cemetery Locations
Here is a map showing the locations of many (but not all) of the cemeteries. You can also open a Google map showing many of the cemeteries HERE.
Cleveland Cemeteries West
Here is a list of the cemeteries on the west side of Cleveland that could be visited on the tour. If you click on the thumbnail photos, the full-size photo will open in a new window/tab.
Cleveland Cemeteries East
Here is a list of the cemeteries on the east side of Cleveland that could be visited on the tour.