The circa 1920 “Then” postcard image of the northwest gateway of Oak Dale Cemetery on Patrick Avenue shows the driveway along the north border of the cemetery. The first meeting of cemetery trustees occurred on Oct. 23, 1855, with Lemuel Weaver as president and W. F. Mosgrove as secretary. On May 28, 1856, the name of the cemetery was changed from Greenwood Cemetery to Oak Dale Cemetery.
The cemetery was dedicated on July 19, 1856. The following is an extract from the address by Rev. Jas. F. Chalfaut at that dedication:
“There is a natural sentiment in the bosom of man, as a general rule, strong in proportion to his cultivation and refinement, that, after life’s silver chord has been loosed, his resting place may be in some quiet sequestered retreat, removed at a proper distance from the bustle and conflicts of active life, when he may not be jostled in his narrow house; but where emblems of truth and divinity may surround him, in all their native simplicity and grandeur. Where God breathes through the leaves of the undisturbed forest trees and smiles in the blooming flower! Such a place may this be!”
Once the new cemetery was established many, but not all, of those buried in the Old Graveyard at Ward and Kenton streets were disinterred then re-interred in Oak Dale.
The 2020 “Now” photo of the same driveway shows that it now is an exit. Note how little has changed in the past 100 years. It appears that the stone posts and iron fence are the same. Given the nature of a cemetery as so eloquently stated above, so should it be a constant in an ever-changing world.
Source: A Brief History, Rules and Regulations of the Oak Dale Cemetery, Urbana, Ohio 1907.
The Champaign County Historical Museum, a not-for-profit organization that depends upon donations and dues to preserve, protect, archive and display the artifacts that tell the Champaign County story. The free public museum, 809 East. Lawn Ave., Urbana, is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays; and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays.
This circa 1915 photo shows grave diggers and workers assembled before Oak Dale Cemetery’s hexagonal office building, which still stands. Note the tools used by the workers are shovels and a horse hitched to an unidentified device. Most things used currently at Oak Dale for grave digging and grounds maintenance are gasoline- or diesel-powered machines. This illustrates the dramatic change from 100 years ago brought about by the availability and utilization of petroleum fuels.
Looking Back at Champaign County
The Champaign County Historical Society strives to highlight historical people, places and events throughout Champaign County. If you have photos of historical significance that you believe would be of interest to Champaign Countians, please Contact Us.