Woodvale Then and Now
Woodvale Cemetery began as one half acre of farm land, donated by Fred G. Klink (1835-1858) in the 1850’s. Mr. Klink died in 1858, at the age of 22, and was buried in that small section of his property. It is the oldest marked grave at Woodvale Cemetery. The early graves are in the higher sections of the cemetery, marked Sections A and B, along Engle Road. In 1876, Frank M. Stearns (1832-1911) suggested that the unnamed cemetery be called Woodvale, after the wooded vale beside it.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, graves were dug by hand by local caretakers. One interesting caretaker was Fred Beavis, who only had one arm. During the harsh winters, when the ground was too hard to dig, he stored the cadavers in a vault (constructed in 1878 by Berea Quarry Stone) until the spring thaw. The vault still stands today, opposite the office. In 1989, Mr. Beavis was buried in the earth he so carefully tended, at the age of 82. In 2009, the cemetery staff presented a Proclamation to three generations of his family in honor of his 20 years of service. Fred Beavis was responsible for constructing a garage and office for the cemetery, which was used until 2005, when the new office was finished.
Records were penned by hand in large, fragile, paper ledgers, which were the only records kept during those early years. In 1908, a fire destroyed the caretaker’s house and many of the records were destroyed. Recovery of that early data was quite a chore and involved many hours of research. Sometimes the old monuments held the only records for burials in the graves. Now the records are computerized. Visitors may stop in the office to gather information about loved ones who are buried at Woodvale.
Veterans at Woodvale
There are over a thousand veterans of every United States conflict buried at Woodvale Cemetery: including the Civil War, Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War and the Vietnam conflict. We record all veteran burials so that we can include them in the annual Memorial Day celebration. Thanks to the Albert E. Baesel American Legion Post 91 of Berea, every veteran’s grave holds an American flag on that holiday. The Legion conducts an honorable ceremony and also places a special wreath on the grave of the first Ohioan to receive the World War I Medal of Honor, Lt. Alfred E. Baesel (1890-1922.)
There are many pioneer families people buried in Woodvale Cemetery whose names we are sure you will recognize, including: Fowles, Kraft, Lovejoy, Engle, Sheldon, Sprague, Stearns and Baldwin. William Engle (1814-1897) was the Township Trustee, school director and constable who built the first log cabin in 1848, for whom Engle Road was named.
Former Mayors & Other Historical Figures
Former Mayors of Berea rest here: Cpt. Edward J. Kennedy (1841-1924), Thomas J. Poole (1838-1925), and George Goette (1879-1941). Captain Kennedy was also an industrial, social and political leader of Berea and Cuyahoga County and a veteran who survived being detained at the notorious Andersonville Prison in Georgia.
Former Mayor of Middleburg Heights, Fred Rudolph (1893-1963) also rests here. The grave of one of the founders of Baldwin Wallace College is here: John Baldwin (1799-1884.) The editors of the local newspapers were buried here: Elijah Peebles (1835-1908) of the Grindstone City Advertiser and Robert W. Pillars (?-1909) of the Berea Enterprise. Dorothy McKelvey, (1903-1993) founder of the Berea Historical Society, rests here.
Landscaping & Gardens
Woodvale Cemetery has a charm of its own, with heavily landscaped areas and gardens on many of the graves. It is one of the few cemeteries in the area which allows owners of graves, with raised monuments, the opportunity to install flower gardens beside their monuments. With this freedom comes the responsibility to tend to the garden and follow the rules which have been established by the management. Many families have created lovely, colorful, bordered gardens, dotted with solar lights and blooming flowers. Crosses are allowed during the bleak months of winter, so graves can be located.
Many of the old monuments have symbolic figures used. There is a tall, tree-shaped monument with all the limbs cut off, symbolic of a life cut short. There are fallen doves, little lambs, pillow-shaped tablets, crosses, towering obelisks, arches, angels and many more interesting figures. There is also a replica of a log cabin, made of a solid block of sandstone, used as the Kirk family monument, in Section 3, beside the office. Benches have been used as monuments, with the names engraved on the back portion.
Woodvale is owned jointly by the cities of Berea and Middleburg Heights and open to the public for all burials.
Through the years, the cemetery has grown to 50 acres. It is peacefully located at the corners of Engle and Fowles Roads and is bordered by Big Creek Parkway and the Metro Parks.