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Willet Street Cemetery Deed - 1840


Shown below are the bottom of page 461 and the top of page 462 of the handwritten record book of the Cuyahoga County Recorder. Written on August 7, 1840, they show the transfer of an acre of land from Josiah Barber to the Israelitic Society. It will be the Willet Street Cemetery, Cleveland's first Jewish burial ground.

The last lines show that the seller, Josiah Barber, appeared before the recorder on August 6, 1840 and the deed was recorded the next day, August 7, 1840. As only a few deeds were recorded each day, we see it as received late Thursday afternoon and recorded the next morning, Friday August 7.

The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History [ link to entry ] notes that the first interment was within a month of the purchase of the land. That may refer to the day the Israelitic Society voted to buy the land or when it contracted with Josiah Barber. Our view is that Barber had agreed to the sale some time in July, but would not record the land transfer until he had been paid in full. Imagine the tension when, to allow Kahnweiler to be buried on Friday, before the Sabbath, the funds due Barber had to be collected and brought to him at his office on Pearl Street (today West 25th Street) by Thursday afternoon. That they succeeded is a matter of record. The deed was recorded and Alexander Kahnweiler was interred on the same day, Friday August 7, 1840.

August 7, 1840, the day of the first Jewish burial in Cleveland, was a day of great anxiety and much success, one to be long remembered.

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