333 E. Sienna Heights Drive
Adrian, MI 49110
No Official Website
Bella Morte Rating: 1 Tombstone
As frequently happens when scouting out cemeteries to visit, we encountered a dearth of information concerning Oakwood (hence the need for Bella Morte!) Still, our approach was made with considerable anticipation as electronic communications with cemetery staff had proclaimed it a “Victorian-era treasure” with “much lovely statuary.”
Those sentiments were echoed on Oakwood’s historical marker which, in our estimation, sadly pretty much suffices as a “review” for the cemetery:
With its park like setting, wooded pathways and variety of monuments, Oakwood Cemetery is an outstanding Victorian Era cemetery. Local citizens, including Adrian founder Addison Comstock, created Oakwood Cemetery in 1848. Originally 22 acres, by 1968 the cemetery had grown to 120 acres. Many of Adrian’s earliest settlers are buried here. The first interment was six year-old Oscar Augustus Stevens. Rachel Sightler, a former slave, and Martin Loop, a Civil War veteran who died at age 103, are buried here. In
addition, the cemetery contains the remains of prominent Michiganians including Governor William L. Greenly (1813-1883), Governor
Charles M. Croswell (1825-1886), and Michigan Supreme Court Justice Thomas M. Cooley (1824-1898)
“Much lovely statuary?” “Outstanding Victorian Era cemetery?” These people need to take a trip to see what was happening at other Victorian-era cemeteries at the time!
After wandering the less-than-extraordinary grounds, which, as we are sure you have surmised, contained very few statuary monuments, the memorial that piqued our interest was the marbled black and rose coloured sarcophagus of the Johnston family who apparently met a tragic end together on 6 March, 1947.
Brice C. Martha
September 22, 1919 January 7, 1919
March 6, 1947 March 6, 1947
Larry C. Jimmie A.
June 16, 1943 March 16, 1946
March 6, 1947 March 6, 1947
Thanks to the generosity of a visitor to the site, we received information regarding the fate of the Johnston family via an article from The Toledo Blade. The transcription of that article reads:
The Toledo Blade – March 7, 1947
4 Of Family Die In Adrian Crash
“Car Pulled 300 Yards By Passenger Train”
From The Blade Correspondent
ADRIAN, Mich., March 7 – The unguarded McKenzie St. grade crossing, scene of several fatal accidents, claimed the lives of four members of an Adrian family at 5:15 p.m. yesterday. Their automobile was demolished by a westbound New York Central passenger train.
Dead are Brice Johnston, 28; his wife, Martha, 27, and their two children, Larry, 4, and Jimmy, 2. They lived on a farm two miles from Adrian. Mr. Johnston purchased a restaurant in downtown Adrian a month ago.
Pinned In Car
All four members of the family were pinned in the car as it was carried 300 yards along the track before rolling into a ditch. Mr. Johnston died shortly after arriving at Bixby Hospital. The others were killed instantly.
W.A. Skahen, engineer, said the train from Toledo to Elkhart had left the Adrian Station, about a half mile away, and was gathering speed at the time of the crash.
No Inquest Planned
Coroner Ed Braun, who gave a verdict of accidental death, said there would be no inquest. Bodies are in the Braun Funeral Home, where services will be Monday.
Mrs. Johnston was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Carl Kramer, 2025 Parkdale Ave., Toledo. She was a graduate of DeVilbiss High School, Toledo.
Mr. Johnston was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Virgle Johnston, of near Adrian. Virgle Johnston said the family had been looking for a house in Adrian. They were scheduled to attend a birthday party for Virgle Johnston in the evening.
Mr. Braun said the unprotected crossing is marked by a steep grade approximately 25 feet from an intersection with State Route 34 and that motorists frequently stall their motors on the tracks upon climbing the approach.