Medal of Honor winners. The grandfather of a literary giant. The only politician to win a public election against the man who would eventually become president. You could very well assume that such an eclectic group of people would hail from a huge metropolitan area in a distant state, instead of being interred right here in their former home in Stark County. But you’ll need to be ready for all kinds of amazing historical surprises on a Massillon Cemetery Walking Tour. (For the record, it is the final resting place of three Medal of Honor winners, Jack London’s grandfather, and John G. Warwick, the only person to defeat William McKinley in a run for office.)
Last Sunday, the afternoon was appropriately gloomy for our excursion in the cemetery. Margy Vogt, the inimitable Massillon historian, served as the tour guide, and she certainly does know her stuff. She engaged our group, which numbered close to fifty in attendance, with an abundance of background on the cemetery as well as stories of those interred there. And for the faint of heart, worry not: this wasn’t a haunted tour with lots of ghost tales. Vogt focuses on unique historical accounts of the people who have shaped our local landscape during the previous 150 years. For two hours, we were regaled with accounts of the families who founded businesses and locales — be it the former Massillon State Hospital or two feuding piano stores — as well as those veterans and artisans who are the backbone of every community. And just like Massillon’s former residents, the crowd was equally diverse; from grade school through adulthood, people of various ages were there to enjoy the history of a place that contains more stories than will ever be told. And although it was gloomy, the rain was kind enough to refrain for the duration of our outing.
If this tour sounds right up your alley, be sure to check out the Walking Tour of the Massillon Cemetery Mausoleums next Saturday, September 14th. It starts at 11 a.m. and will give those in attendance an in-depth background of the beautiful mausoleums on the grounds. Admission is only $5 per person. Just be sure to wear your walking shoes; you’re going to see a mile’s worth of history!