Along the banks of the Ohio River in Ironton, Ohio is Woodland Cemetery, also known as the City of the Dead. Founded in 1871, it presently contains more than 8,000 graves. The cemetery entrance is beautifully gated and the cemetery itself is beautifully landscaped. Its departed residents include veterans from the American Civil War, celebrated local persons, and its share of ghost stories and local legends.
If you happen to be in the cemetery after dark, you might catch a glimpse of ballerina Antoinette Peters, also known as Teenie. It has been reported that on nights when the moon is full her ghost can be seen dancing outside her mausoleum where her body is entombed. Antoinette Peters was a dancer with the Imperial Russian Ballet and the Chicago Opera. She met and married a local industrialist and settled in Ironton, Ohio. Sadly, she was unfortunately killed in a car crash in Illinois. Not long after her funeral, her mausoleum was broken into by vandals. Aside from breaking part of the top of her glass coffin, they stole a brooch she received from a Russian Czar which was a valued possession of her. They also heartlessly off two of her fingers to steal her rings. A ceramic photograph attached to the outside of her mausoleum depicts her youth and beauty, but sadly, another vandal has shot at it with a BB gun, breaking part of the photograph off. Despite the unkind acts by callous vandals, “Teenie” continues to dance happily in the moonlight for anyone who is fortunate enough to notice.
One of the more elaborate and beautiful statues in the cemetery is of a woman descending the stairs. The expressionless woman’s statue belongs to Osa Wilson, also known as the Slapped Lady. Osa was born in 1877 and died a terrible death in 1911 at the age of 34. The commonly told story is that her husband was very abusive towards her, both verbally and physically. One evening he arrived home drunk, but had brought her flowers. An quarrel arose and in an anger, Osa’s husband slapped her across the face causing her to fall down a flight of stairs. The fall fatally injured her and the unborn child she was carrying. Standing in front of the statue, one will notice the right cheek is different than her left cheek. Looking more closely, a red mark is noticeable, resembling a hand print. Several efforts have been made to sandblast it and repair it, but all have been unsuccessful. The red mark always returns. The hands of the figure have been broken off but it is said that at one time, they were holding flowers. Adding to the tale is the real tears that the statue is said to cry, the belly that is warm to the touch even in the middle of winter, and the faint baby’s heartbeat that can be felt. According to newspaper articles, there is truth to the story. Osa and her husband did have a turbulent marital relationship and he was very abusive towards her. He did strike her once with such force that she fell down the stairs and she was pregnant at the time. After her death, he was able to get out of being convicted of killing her and commissioned the statue to be made as a tribute of his ‘undying love’. Many people visit her grave, not only to see the stunning statue, but to also pay respects and leave flowers. Although not written in words on her tomb, her sad, tragic story of her life can be seen in the cold blank stare of her statue.
One of the more gruesome tales belongs to a illustrious physician, Dr Joseph Lowry. He is alleged to haunt the cemetery and the location of the Briggs Lawrence County Public Library where his house once stood. He can also been seen in Woodland Cemetery often waling alongside his mother, whom is also buried in the cemetery. She was killed in a carriage accident, her neck being broken when she was thrown from the carriage. Dr. Lowry and his mother are seen walking from their grave sites toward the entrance gates, but they always disappear before they reach the bridge at Route 52. Dr. Lowry died in 1933 under some puzzling circumstances. He was found dead in his bed with the heat on high in the middle of summer. Doctors officially determined his death to be caused by a stroke, but officials and townspeople suspected that his heirs murdered him or had him murdered. The undertaker who was taking care of Dr. Lowry’s remains was still upset with him and decided to take some revenge on the deceased doctor. Two years before his death, the doctor had asked the undertaker to make a special custom coffin for his wife, yet he had never paid for the coffin. In revenge for nonpayment, the undertaker broke both of the doctor’s legs, folded them underneath him in order to fit him into the small coffin he had made for the doctor’s wife, and stuffed him into the coffin he had wanted for his wife. With the doctor stuffed in the coffin, the lid wouldn’t close over the doctor’s stomach, so the undertaker extracted some more revenge. He cut the doctor open, took out his inner organs, sewed him back up, and buried the organs in another location. The authorities decided that they wanted to have his organs tested to see if he had been murdered by poisoning. When they told the undertaker that they needed to organs, he admitted to police what he had done. Upon unburying the organs, deterioration had began, making it impossible to check them for poison residue. From noted physician to possible murder victim, the doctor now roams near his old residence looking for his body parts and strolls around the cemetery.
Aside from the stories of hauntings at Woodland Cemetery, there are beautiful statues, gravestones, landscaped gardens, and historical graves. Continuing to be a popular burial site, Ironton’s “City of the Dead” will continue to grow with a sleeping population for many years to come!
(Submitted by Greg B.)
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- Carlton Davidson Ln
Coal Grove, OH
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- 38.5069635, -82.65036980000002
- Lawrence County, Ohio
- Nearest Towns:
- Coal Grove, OH (0.3 mi.)
Westwood, KY (2.0 mi.)
Ashland, KY (2.1 mi.)
Bellefonte, KY (2.4 mi.)
Russell, KY (2.7 mi.)
Ironton, OH (2.7 mi.)
Flatwoods, KY (3.8 mi.)
Ironville, KY (4.2 mi.)
Raceland, KY (4.8 mi.)
Worthington, KY (4.9 mi.)
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