For those interested in learning more about the history of Niagara Falls New York, take a stroll through Oakwood Cemetery on Portage Road. Oakwood Cemetery goes back to 1852 when it was created on a parcel of land donated by Lavinia Porter, daughter of Judge Augustus Porter. Judge Augustus Porter was one of Niagara Falls‘ biggest land owners and is acknowledged as being a key founder of the city.
Oakwood Cemetery, as it exists today, was designed in 1882 by Drake Whitney who ironically was a nephew to the three Whitney sisters for which “Three Sisters’ Islands” were named. Oakwood Cemetery has had several significant additions over the years including the marble mausoleum designed by the Buffalo architectural firm Green and Wicks in 1913.
The mausoleum was constructed to contain the remains of 350 individuals and the interior was faced and floored in white Vermont marble, lit by clerestory windows and two stained glass windows. Huge bronze doors enter into a chapel space centered in the mausoleum.
Oakwood Cemetery became the resting place for many individuals who played an integral roll in creating Niagara Falls as it exists today. Such iconic names as Porter, Whitneys, Schoelkopfs, Oppenheims, Siberbergs, Pfohls, Haeberles, Tattersalls and the Holleys Today’s natives of Niagara Falls will recognize all of those names because they appear on many of the roads and buildings in the city.
Among those buried at Oakwood, one can find Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to ever travel over the Horseshoe Falls in a barrel. Taylor had hoped her exploit would bring more fortune than fame, but alas she died in a poor economic state.
Homan Walsh, the young kite flyer whose kite and progressively larger ropes sent the cable across the gorge for the suspension bridge. Homan was given a mere $5 for his accomplishment that led to commerce that made millions.
The famed “Hermit of Goat Island” is also laid to rest there at Oakwood Cemeter and there is a memorial to “Comrades of the Grand Army of the Republic”, veterans of the Civil War.
Oakwood Cemetery has tours and seasonal events that promote the historical significance of those who now call it their final resting place. For more information go to the Oakwood Cemetery web site.