Samantha's Chair at Woodlawn
The Ludwig Memorial.
Founded in 1876, Toledo's Woodlawn Cemetery epitomizes the rural cemetery movement. Today, historic Woodlawn is the final resting place for more than 65,000 people, including many of Toledo's most prominent families. It still includes 47 acres of undeveloped land and continues to be an active cemetery with more than ample space for continuing service. I usually include Woodlawn on local history tours and I always take time to provide the story behind the most asked-about memorial in this beautiful park.
The Ludwig monument sits in Section 2, just inside the entrance gates. It was erected for Putnam County recorder and oil tycoon Leroy Ludwig. It features a granite replica of an easy chair. Some say the chair was a tribute to Ludwig's second wife Bessie, who supposedly slept sitting up in a chair for 25 years following the demise of her husband. As the story goes, she refused to lie down in order to avoid succumbing herself. It's an interesting tale but a total fallacy.
Actually, this unique monument was erected, chair and all, in 1900, nearly 30 years before Bessie Ludwig's death. In fact, the chair is a tribute to Ludwig's first wife, Samantha. She died in 1899 after an extended illness left her confined to an easy chair. The Local History Department at the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library has a series of photos documenting the erection of the monument. There are also notes from the Lloyd Bros. Monument Company that mention the original plan was to have a marble effigy of Samantha in the chair but the family decided that was too personal and left out the effigy. The monument was patterned after the Prince Albert monument that Queen Victoria had erected in Kensington Gardens.
The monument is carved from granite quarried in Vermont. Upon its completion, it was packed and shipped by rail to Toledo and transported to the gates of Woodlawn by a specially-modified trolley car. Toledo's Lloyd Brothers handled the installation. They had to lay track into the cemetery in order to get the large base and chair to their final resting place where they stand to this day.