In fact, a one-time Spring Grove Cemetery general manager called cemetery ''a harsh word. We like to think we are a park with a fine collection of plant material.''
Spring Grove is today an wonderful mix of horticulture and history, monuments and mausoleums, birds and beauty.
Founded in 1845, the original area of 166 slightly hilly acres was purchased for $16,000. It was named Spring Grove because of the numerous springs and ancient groves of trees on the property.
Early leaders like Adolph Strauch, Dr. Daniel Drake, Robert Buchanan, Timothy Walker, Salmon P. Chase and Henry Probasco set the course that has made Spring Grove the nation's largest non-profit cemetery with more than 700 acres.
Much has changed in over 150 years. In 1845, a rule stated: ''Horses must not be left without the driver.'' For almost 100 years, owners could enter only with tickets for themselves and their guests, who were excluded on Sundays.
Automobiles were admitted in 1911; the great flood inundated Spring Grove in 1937; it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976; and in 1993 a patent for a new dogwood tree was issued to Spring Grove.
Now called Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum, it today is a ''place of repose for people from all walks of life.''
25 Cincinnati mayors, including George ''Boss'' Cox and ''Mr. Cincinnati'' Charles Taft
Painter Henry Farny
Businessmen Charles Fleischman, James Gamble, Bernard Kroger, William Procter, John Shillito, George McAlpin and Christian Moerlein
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nicholas Longworth
Judge Jacob Burnet, author of the first Ohio state constitution
34 Union generals from the Civil War, including Joseph Hooker and the ''Fighting McCooks'' - Robert, Alexander, Edwin and Daniel. Daniel McCook, the patriarch, contributed eight sons to the Union Army, four of whom rose to the rank of general.
Jesse and Hannah Grant, parents of Civil War general and later president Ulysses S. Grant.
10 governors from the states of Ohio, Kentucky and Arizona
Three Supreme Court justices, including Salmon P. Chase
Three postmasters general
Things to see
FLOWERS: Daffodils, weeping cheery trees in blossom, rhododendron, roses, lilies and chrysanthemums give color. Fall offers rich foliage and evergreens give contrast to the bare trunks of hardwoods in winter.
BUILDINGS: Entrance - features carved stone gargoyles on the outside and a vaulted beamed ceiling in the visitors' reception room; Carriage House - originally designed as a rest area for ladies awaiting their carriages; Norman Chapel - has large stained-glass window imported from Europe; Dexter Mausoleum - resembles an elaborate gothic chapel with balustrade and flying buttresses.
MAUSOLEUMS: There are 40 family-owned mausoleums in Spring Grove, including the Burnet Mausoleum, which was built in 1865 of Italian marble in the Corinthian style.
MONUMENTS: There are draped urns, broken columns depicting death in the prime of life, an Egyptian-style pyramid and sphinx, balls, petrified logs, musical lyres, lambs, cherubs and obelisks reaching upward like the Washington Monument.
EPITAPHS: Examples range from ''Cheer, loving devotion and affection'' from a wife to the young man who ''burned my candle at both ends.''
TREES: There are more than 300 varieties of trees, including several ''Ohio Big Trees,'' the largest of each species growing in the state. Among them are the Cedar of Lebanon, the Nordmann Fir, the Red Dogwood and the Purple European Beech.
BIRDS: Canada geese and more than 200 other species have been identified by birdwatchers.
SOURCES: ''Spring Grove, Celebrating 150 Years''; A Visitor's Guide to the Beauty and History of Spring Grove; Post archives