Syracuse New York
Syracuse Oakwood Cemetery
Apparently, many spirits are active here, especially in the oldest part of the cemetery, Dedication Valley, where restless spectral residents visit their remains.
The giant pyramid that was dedicated to Comfort Tyler has paranormal activity associated with it. Someone buried there is restless.
“Oakwood Cemetery is so beautiful you sometimes forget it’s filled with dead people.” (syracuse.com/strangecny/2007/10/second_stop_oakwood_cemetery)
The original ninety-two acres of this one hundred and sixty acre cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of its lovely park-like surroundings, a prime, if not the best, example of 19th Century landscape architecture. Designed by Howard Daniels, Syracuse Oakwood Cemetery graves and memorials are placed amongst a forest of one hundred and fifty year old trees; mostly Oak, along with some Pine, Ash, Hickory and Maple, some if which were planted by people working for the original landscapist in charge, Howard Daniels.
Mr. Daniel’s work has made Oakwood Cemetery one of the most scenic and beautiful cemeteries in America. It has become a favorite place for the neighboring University of Syracuse Students who like to study here, jog, and ride bikes through the grounds, as it is loved by all.
It’s landscaping was designed with the hope that it would give visitors a sense of peace, and would be a consoling place for the grieving people left behind who had lost their loved ones to the inevitable end that will happen to all of us; returning to dust.
The poem in the Syracuse Library’s document devoted to Oakwood, entitled The History of Oakwood Cemetery expresses this hope.
“Come to these scenes of peace,
Where to foliage whispering,
The sweet birds all the summer sing!”
“Where cares, and toil, and sadness cease. Stranger, dost thy heart deplore? Friends whom thou wilt see no more? Does they wounded spirit prove, Pangs of hopeless, severed love?”
“Thee the trees that whisper here,
Thee the birds that carol here,
Thee the birds that carol near,
Shall soothe, as silent thou dost lie,
And dream of their sweet lullaby.
Come, rest amid these scenes of peace, Where cares, and toil, and sadness cease.”
Tom and I think they reached their goal of providing rest and comfort to survivors and for the spirits who are buried here even now. We loved this cemetery as it is truly a place of comfort and rest. When we arrived, I was frazzled from a day of hard traveling and this peaceful and beautiful place helped me to unwind, breathe deeply as I walked around, finding an inner calm. Looking at all the lovely trees, beautiful headstones and monuments, lifted my exhaustion as I soaked in the peaceful aura of this place.
We only saw the part of it, as this cemetery is quite large and would take us quite a lot of time to see it all. We plan to come back and get a better look at its historical section of this beautiful cemetery on another road trip and will spend more time here.
People from all walks of life are laid to rest in these beautiful surroundings. In the tradition of this cemetery, on their website, they offer a package to present-day clients that will include the perk of having the cemetery build a memorial for loved ones, as there are no rules limiting what display may be used to mark the grave. There are many nicely-done tombs and headstones on the grounds, including those found on more recent burials.
The most impressive memorials as well as the smaller yet still beautiful displays can be found in the oldest section from the 1800s called Dedication Valley, which is quite something to see, despite having lost its sign and becoming a little less pristine as a result. Blogger Samuel D. Gruber shares that the roads leading down to this section are in need of repair, so it is recommended that visitors park their vehicles and walk down. Apparently, he tried once to drive down and nearly got stuck. Yikes!
The Onondaga County’s mover and shakers, and founding families of Syracuse are buried in Dedication Valley’s little mansions and palaces. The families of the following people are entombed in large, elaborate, sometimes imaginative monuments or are buried under grand monolith-type markers.
An observer in late 1800s reports, “The more prominent monuments of Thurber, Thurwachter, Avery, Bertram, Bates, Leslie, Bradley, Manning, and others, cluster around us, thickly interspersed with smaller ones. And here, near by, is the vault of Dr. Shipman-the smallest one in the Cemetery, though one of exquisite beauty, and artistic proportions.”
These memorials are creative, definitely “elaborate and imaginative monuments”(syracuse.com/strange ny) much like little palaces for the dead.
One of the most impressive is the Tyler Family Memorial Pyramid that is topped with a handsome cross. It was started in 1875 and was finished on June 4, 1885. It’s as big as a house and sits on top of a spacious crypt, creating the final resting place for the Tyler family and members of the Longstreet family who married into the Tyler clan, as well as dear friends of the Tylers.
Samuel D. Gruber shares that this impressive structure as being “beautifully constructed and the massive perfectly cut limestone blocks of the lower courses are beautiful in their simple power. This is a true mausoleum, with a full sitting room inside.”
In this comfortably sized crypt, family members were entombed in the walls with the rest of the interior provided with nice furniture where the visitor could sit, visit and pray for the departed.
Edward Longstreet, who died at the age of thirty, was moved from the 1875 original Tyler Gothic memorial, to be reinterred in the newly built Pyramid. The grandchildren also moved other family members, like their grandparents, to be reinterred here as well.
Members of the Longstreet family who didn’t marry into the Tyler clan, were laid to rest in a crypt that looks like a mini-church structure, complete with stained glass windows. The Green and Burton families have crypts that look like mini-mansions.
Members of the Wilkenson family were laid to rest inside a large rectangular crypt with impressive exterior to make it beautiful as well. Members of the White family reside in a rectangular crypt with a mini-Greek temple on top.
Some of the older, historic headstones located near the original massive original stone entrance are in poor condition. As this grand entrance had been sealed because of its close proximity to Highway I-81, the blockage makes it hard to restore them due to lack of access, according to New York preservation experts, who explained their views in their statement presented in August of 2021.
Preservationists have come up with another plan to open up the original entrance, as Highway I-81 is in need of a renovation anyway. They hope to convince the authorities to choose it over a competing plan to renovate it. Opening up this entrance will make it possible to restore monuments and grave sites in this part of the cemetery much more easily, and repair the creaky, undrivable roads.
The idea of creating a cemetery on this oak-forested land can be traced to 1852, when the need for it for the near future became apparent. Establishing it wasn’t easy, after a discouraging start. The ball finally began to roll in 1857, but was stopped again because of a financial recession. 1858 proved to be a better year, with thew owners’ plans gaining momentum as they received more and more donations from many people, ranging in amounts from $100 to $2,500 dollars.
Cemetery officials spent 1858 negotiating with the landowners and coming to a satisfactory price. The next big obstacle was the removal of Plank Road which ran through the land purchased; a complicated, difficult discussion. “They needed the consent of the stockholders and directors of said road; in obtaining the sanction of such removal, from the town officers of the town of Onondaga; in procuring the new right of way which this removal made necessary, and raising the $25,000 which was required to make the purchase of this road.”
(Syracuse Library: https://library.syr.edu/digital/collections/h/HistoryOfOakwoodCemetery)
Mayor Leavenworth, who was “virtually the father of the Cemetery,” and the main driving force behind this effort, refused to give up. (Syracuse Library, “History of Oakwood Cemetery”).
Leavenworth shared the joy of establishing the cemetery. “After nearly ten years of delays, and difficulties, and disappointments; after the project had been more than once abandoned, and hopes all but extinguished, this lovely spot of ground was secured for the final repose of our dear ones; to be visited, admired, and hallowed in our memories while we live, by a thousand sacred and tender recollections, and to be the beautiful resting-place for our bodies when summoned to our final homes.” (Syracuse Library, “History of Oakwood Cemetery”).
After purchasing the land from the original landowners, Oakwood Cemetery grew to be 122 acres, room enough for the remains of the departed of Syracuse to be laid to rest in loving ways long into the future.
In October of 1859, an energetic, enthusiastic team of fifty or sixty men, led by head landscape gardener and designer Howard Daniels, got to work, making new paths and roads, clearing out dead trees, tree trunks, removing some straggly growth, clearing areas around old trees for the first graves, and planting new trees in areas that needed them. Daniels and his team worked with dedication to make the landscaping plans a reality until December of 1859, creating more than enough to handle the existing need for burial places.
To fully implement Daniels’ beautiful landscaping designs, it took twelve years to complete the planned improvement projects, thanks to the Association and volunteers bringing the the brightest dreams of the instigators of the enterprise to fruition, creating the beautiful “City of the Dead.”
The first to be laid to rest in the new grounds were prominent citizens as well as ordinary folks as well. Inspired by the beauty of the Oakwood Cemetery, people built memorials from huge to small, depending on the funds that they could afford to spend.
During the Civil War, the men of Syracuse were recruited to join Company B of the 122nd New York Volunteer Infantry, known as the “Onondagas.” As some came back in coffins, (including William Crossier, a Syracuse Civil War Medal of honor recipient). A Sailors and Soldiers Cemetery was established, Sailors and Soldiers Field Cemetery, made complete with two canons. The crowning honor was a magnificent Civl War Statue.
The 20th Century wasn’t kind to this Sailors and Soldiers Field cemetery, as it suffered a major setback when headstones were knocked down or ruined by destructive thugs, made complete with the theft of the Civil War statue in 1951.
The now woe-be-gone cemetery was rescued financially in 1999, when Sailors and Soldiers Field was finally restored by the 122nd NY Volunteers, a living history group, giving each grave a new headstone. The Civil War Statue was replaced in 2006 and hopefully all spirits the soldiers are pleased, as well as the living who care.
Twenty-eight acres of the original one hundred and twenty two acres of cemetery land were sold off to the University of Syracuse, which made sure the existing graves on their newly acquired land were moved to another cemetery in order to build their new campus. They have stepped up to the plate and keep records of who is buried there, and other important historical information. Students and staff love to spend time in this peaceful place, as it natural aura draws stressed students to relax here.
More land has been purchased to grow the cemetery throughout the coming years for a total of a whopping one hundred and sixty acres. to a whopping one hundred sixty acres. The remains of 60,000 people can be found here. Today, there is plenty of room for present day burials and placement areas for cremation remains.
HISTORY OF MANIFESTATIONS
Suicide seldom brings peace in the afterlife, as the emotional pain follows the person into the spirit world. When it is perceived that all is lost, people often kill themselves. Losing your fortune is one of the losses many can’t face. What makes it worse is when the suicide is regretted by the spirit of the person who killed himself or herself).
Barnstable House, MA (A former owner, Edmund Howes, filled with despair and hopelessness after losing all his money during The Revolutionary War, and facing bankruptcy, ended his life by hanging himself from one of the trees on his property. He now resents the living in his house, and has claimed portions of it for himself).
Rothschild House Museum, WA (The Depression of 1866 was hard on D. C. H. Rothschild’s business. When he perceived that he was about to lose everything because his business was circling the drain, he killed himself. He may have regrets for doing so as he has moved back inside and goes about his daily routine, trying to find peace here).
University of Iowa Currier Hall, IA (Romantic entanglements that end badly due to lies and betrayals can lead to strong feelings and sometimes rash actions that are regretted after the fact. Three female roommates were played by the same young man who promised true love to each of them. When they found out, they killed themselves together, but have regrets and have found a new purpose to do together in the afterlife).
Syracuse Oakwood Cemetery, NY (When Edward Longstreet’s business lost 40,000 dollars and he was facing ruin, he couldn’t face it and he killed himself at the age of thirty. He probably has regrets concerning his rash act as he saw that his family carried on and eventually prospered).
When remains in graves are moved or opened, this can disturb spirits who are drawn back to this world, having trouble in resting, as they begin to dwell on old issues that were forgotten when they were first buried.
Colonel Michael Swope Townhouse, VA (The brave Colonel Swope started haunting his home soon after his remains were disturbed in the family plot in Philadelphia, PA, at the insistence of stupid dolts, in search of plague victims. His spirit was awakened, and he remembered how the British cruelly treated him in captivity. He felt the need to guard his Alexandria townhouse from British ownership. He tried to calm down by staying and enjoy his home).
Cedar Grove Mansion, MS (This paranormal joint has traditionally been jumping because family graves were moved from a family plot on the property to a city cemetery. Current owners have tried to appease them by remaking the family plot with new headstones, putting family names on each one).
Easton Library, PA (While other mortal remains were unceremoniously thrown into a mass grave, two prominent people’s graves were moved to the front lawn of the library. Their spirits came back, disturbed by the moving of their remains, not knowing where they had been moved to).
Syracuse Oakwood Cemetery, NY (The remains of Comfort Tyler, and his two wives, Elizabeth Longstreet and Mary Wemple, as well as Edward Longstreet, and others were moved from where they were buried in the early to mid-1800s to be interred again in the glorious Pyramid Memorial).
When graves suffer disrespect or wind up forgotten with no headstones, spirits may come back and look for their graves as they walk the cemetery.
Western Cemetery, ME (Out of the nine hundred Irish immigrant graves, only fifty headstones remained. Division 1 of the Ancient Order of Hibernians dedicated a stone marker, marking the Catholic Ground on one side and remembering the Irish Famine immigrants as well. Some spirits still are looking).
Liberty Hall Mansion, KY (Mrs. Varick was originally buried in the family plot near the house. When they moved the rest of the family to another cemetery, the dolts lost her resting place. Her mission in haunting Liberty Hall is to try to get someone to find her grave and mark it properly. She also has an unmet need to help the living).
Sacramento Cemetery, CA (The mass grave for Asiatic Cholera epidemic victims not only had no marker, but wound up under the section for the war dead, though no one knows for sure. More dirt was just added on top of the mass grave to make room for other graves. This may be the reason for the restless spirits here).
Syracuse Oakwood Cemetery, NY (After the Sailors and Soldiers Field headstones became rubble from vandals, and the original Civil War monument was stolen, spirits from these graves may have joined the restless ones who walk the grounds. New headstones were placed on graves and a new memorial was added as well, which may have helped somewhat). (Some tombs and graves in the historic section have also deteriorated, which must upset the spirits).
Spirits sometimes like to visit the Cemetery to visit the graves of old friends, or a family tomb.
Lincoln’s Tomb, IL (The spirit of Abraham Lincoln visits the Lincoln Family Tomb where he mourns his family members laid to rest with him there).
Virginia City Cemetery, NV (This cemetery is a hot spot, popular with spirits; chilling around their graves or perhaps visiting others).
Pioneer Boot Hill Cemetery, ID (In the Chinese section of this cemetery, a young Chinese girl is seen standing by the grave of a relative).
Syracuse Oakwood Cemetery, NY (Spirits have been seen visiting their friends and family memorials to pay their respects).
Spirits like to visit the cemetery where they were buried, to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, and perhaps the beautiful tomb architecture.
The Laurel Hall Mausoleum, VT (The spirits of the Bowman family like to hang out in this roadside mausoleum, as well as reside in the Bowman dream home built just across the roadway).
Pittsburgh Cemetery, PA (The serene and peaceful aura here seems to draw spirits of children, adults and soldiers. All freely find ways to enjoy themselves, much to the surprise of the living).
Pioneer Boot Hill Cemetery, ID (Many apparitions float, linger and saunter through both of the town’s cemeteries, Boot Hill and Pioneer, after the sun goes down).
Syracuse Oakwood Cemetery, NY (Spirits like to stroll or float down the oldest section, called Paradise Valley which is like seeing the homes of the dead, as the memorials are quite fancy and impressive tombs for whole families, New Orleans style).
Spirits with unfinished business are restless, and they sometimes interact with the living, trying to tell them what they can do to give the spirits peace.
St. Louis Cemetery, LA (Seaman Henry Vignes foolishly gave the papers to his family’s vault to his landlady, who sold his vault for her personal gain. When he suddenly died before he could press charges, he was buried in an unmarked grave in the back of this cemetery. He will appear seemingly in the flesh like a solid person, to visitors and ask them, “Where is the Vignes tomb?”).
Gettysburg National Cemetery, PA (A failure by the military to fully honor a brave soldier buried here was finally addressed, so that a previously restless spirit could have closure when the medal he had earned was chiseled onto his grave stone).
Point of Graves Burial Ground, NH (A few lonely and restless entities quietly follow the living, and try to make non-verbal contact, letting it be known that they are still there, perhaps looking for a chance to voice for their unhappiness).
Syracuse Oakwood Cemetery, NY (Restless spirits try to communicate messages meant for their loved ones with the living).
Some of the spirits who are laid to rest in Oakland Cemetery apparently are not at rest and make themselves known day and night. Perhaps they can’t get enough of the beautiful grounds and/or the magnificent monuments, the touching sayings on their gravestones.
They may have a restlessness from how they died, have unfinished business or were disturbed when moved from their old family memorials to the new memorials. They have no fear of the living, and make themselves at home, not caring who sees or hears them.
Oakwood Cemetery Personal Appearances
Throughout the cemetery, the living have seen apparitions, shadows, weird lights out for a walk, but it’s just the spirits enjoying the sights, or working out a problem, seeking peaceby visiting family memorial or gravesites.
The restless spirits don’t mind sharing this beautiful place with students, visitors, ghost enthusiasts and professional paranormal investigators.
A hot spot for such activity is Dedication Valley because it is a challenge to get there for the living, and it is so beautiful and grand, sure to draw even spirits from other parts of the cemetery.
Spirits who are attached to the memorials in Dedication Valley are active and have been seen.
The Tyler Family Pyramid
Has been a Dedication Valley paranormal hot spot.
Spirits appear as shimmering lights during the day and night, as they go inside the memorial and walk around the outside, and go up and down the hills, even visiting the memorial built next door.
Apparitions have also been spied by the living at the Pyramid, in addition to the shimmering lights.
Who could these spirits be?
The Spirit of Edward Longstreet
He is a very possible suspect in hauntings at or near this memorial.
Spirit of Edward Longstreet may have two reasons to be near or inside.
He has regrets about taking his own life, and was disturbed when his remains were moved here.
What a comfort it must be to see the beautiful family memorial, and know that his family forgave him for killing himself, as they moved his remains here as well as those of other family members.
Now he has to forgive himself, a harder thing to accomplish.
Who May Be Keeping Him Company?
In the afterlife as in life, parents are a good source of comfort to their children and grandchildren.
Spirits of Comfort Tyler, and his two wives, Elizabeth Longstreet and Mary Wemple may try to comfort Edward in his distress, or stay to be with him as he works through his guilt and shame.
Some Spirits have found ways to communicate with the living in the various areas of Oakwood Cemetery, especially in Dedication Valley.
Some are trying to send a message to family, or need to share something that they couldn’t while alive.
Perhaps, others are just being friendly and cordial, glad that someone has come to visit, and try to talk in their disembodied voice, or just whistle to catch their attention.
Perhaps the living can hear footsteps on the path or in the grass.
University of Syracuse Students like to hang out in the cemetery, and sometimes inadvertently experience paranormal sightings, both day and night. One student was going on a walk and got kind of lost when he found himself standing at the bottom of the hill at the Tyler Family Pyramid. Much to his surprise and fright he saw weird lights going up the hill to the memorial, to visit it and the memorial next door.
Central New York Ghost Hunters have seen with their own eyes white apparitions and balls of light, and have probably caught some hard evidence as well. Two CNYG members, Gina Cooke and Carolina stated in a video on city central.com that there were definitely spirits residing here as they have been loud and clear about being present.
Spirits may communicate through psychic mediums, disembodied voices, EVPS, ghost box transmissions, ovules and other gadgets found in paranormal investigators’ bags of equipment that are useful in the field of spectral communication.
Folks on ghost tours haven’t been disappointed as some have seen paranormal activity.
A Big Yes Indeed! What a gorgeous place to take a walk for the living and those in their afterlife alike. It remains a peaceful, uplifting, positive place, truly an American treasure that brings comfort and peace to both people and spirits who love the nature aspect of the cemetery and the beautiful headstones, tombs and memorials that create all together the full sports package for feeling better about your losses of loved ones, and feelings of guilt and regret as well.
940 Comstock Ave.
Syracuse, NY 13210
Oakwood Cemetery is located right next to Syracuse University and the I81 highway which closes off the original stone entryway to the oldest part of the cemetery.
- Building of Oakwood Cemetery – Syracuse Library: https://library.syr.edu/digital/collections/h/HistoryOfOakwoodCemetery
- HISTORY OF OAKWOOD CEMETERY, Smith, Henry Perry, 1839-1925. Digital Edition. (� This work is the property of the Syracuse University Library. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.)
- http://mycentralnewyork.blogspot.com/2020/09/syracuse-high-points-7-longstreet.html , SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2020, by Samuel D. Gruber
- Syracuse High Points 7: Longstreet Pyramid in Oakwood Cemetery