A room in this mausoleum at Riverside Cemetery in Troy houses a one-room museum with artifacts from the cemetery and the histories of five people connected to the cemetery and Troy. The room can be seen by calling ahead or asking the front office for a key.
Troy's Museum in a Mausoleum
By Judy Deeter
TROY - Throughout the Miami Valley, museums tell stories of people who once lived in our communities, but have long ago passed away. There is one unique museum, however, that tells the story of people who are buried in the city cemetery, and exhibits equipment used to put them in the ground. This historical place is in the public mausoleum at Troy’s Riverside Cemetery.
Over the years, only a few people have known about the tiny, one-room museum. There are no signs in the cemetery that read “museum,” nor have advertisements for it been run in the local newspapers.
It was started in 2004 when a barn on the cemetery property that had housed historical items was demolished. The equipment in the torn-down building needed to be put in another new location. Cemetery staff member Cheryl Lavin suggested that the mausoleum be used to store the equipment and eventually organized the exhibits there.
The century-old mausoleum provides a safe environment for the cemetery to store outdated burial equipment, cemetery lawn furnishings, building remnants, newspaper clippings and photographs. Items have been carefully arranged to present the history of the facility. An old shovel and a device to lower caskets in the ground are reminders of how bodies used to be buried. A set of beautiful wire love seats might have been used by those mourning lost loved ones. Windows salvaged from the demolished barn hang on the room’s back wall.
The museum honors five people: Nathan Whitaker is remembered as the first person to be buried at Riverside. He died in May 1867. According to a museum newspaper clipping, he was a man “poor in purse but rich in spirit.” A picture of the tomb of Frank Edgar Scobey and his wife Evaline is shown along with information about Mr. Scobey. Scobey was the Director of the US Mint from 1920 to 1923 during the administration of US President Warren G. Harding. The story of two people who lived during Civil War times is described also told. Cpl. George Green of the 11th Ohio Infantry was a Civil War Medal of Honor Recipient. Green, who lost his leg during the War, also served as Miami County Recorder. A photograph of the tombstone of Josephine Miller Rogers Slyder is exhibited. During the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, she cared for wounded soldiers in her parent’s bullet-riddled farmhouse next to the battlefield. It was considered a miracle she survived the many flying bullets. She was eventually made an Honorary Member of the Third Army Corps of Veterans. Former cemetery Superintendent Lew Deeter, who passed away in March 2010, is honored with a program from his funeral service and newspaper articles about his life.
The mausoleum housing the museum is kept locked, but anyone wishing to see the room may do so by contacting the Riverside Cemetery Office or asking employees on site for entrance. Riverside Cemetery is located at 101 Riverside Drive (near the intersection of Adams St. and Staunton Rd./Riverside Dr.) For information call (937) 335-2710.