I’m actually surprised to realize that I’ve never posted about the Piatts before, apart from the one where I combined it with a quick visit to Mt. Tabor. Mostly I’m surprised because I am a bit of an afficianado of all things Piatt. Why? Because I work there. At the Piatt Castles, that is. www.piattcastles.org. Come on by sometime
Like most people, I feel a certain affinity for Donn Piatt. I don’t know why most people do and I cringe to be a cliché, but, well, I like him. One of my favorite locations is up on top of his crypt. There’s a great view of the valley, and it’s very quiet and peaceful. As far as climbing up on a mausoleum is concerned, well, as I told my (non-headstoner) friend the first time I did it, “If he didn’t want people climbing up here, he shouldn’t have put a poem up there.” (It’s illegible. But I’ll get to that.)
The Piatt family are, at present, chiefly of note because of the two houses, the eponymous Piatt Castles, Mac-A-Cheek and Mac-O-Chee, which are about a mile and a half apart outside of scenic West Liberty, Ohio. A lot of the houses in this area, at one time or another, were owned by a Piatt at some point. Abram Piatt had a number of kids, and it is his descendants now who own the Castles and maintain them.
Of course the business that concerns me today is the cemetery, which is a favorite of mine judging by frequency of visit alone. Working in the house that someone lived in while they were alive definitely makes one feel a lot closer to the person or persons interred; I’ve stood in either house and tried to imagine knowing the people who lived there, I’ve stood at the tomb and tried to imagine Donn and Abram as boys playing in the valley, as men coming up to the cemetery to bury their loved ones, and the funeral procession bringing them to their final resting place.
Donn Piatt’s tomb, like his house, is the more ornate and noticable of the two. It was constructed first, and is the final resting place not only of Donn, but of his and Abram’s parents, Benjamin and Elizabeth, of his son Charles, and of his two wives, Louisa and Ella. Donn’s life was filled with a lot of tragedy: he and Louisa were totally in love with each other; they were both writers and they traveled a great deal. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with “consumption” (not necessarily tuberculoses), and all through the Civil War struggled with bad health. Mac-O-Chee castle was originally a cottage he built for her so she could come out to the country where rest and fresh air might heal her; but she died two weeks after the cottage was finished. They’d had two children, the son Charles, who died at age 2 from cholera, and a stillborn daughter. The medallion atop the tomb features Louisa’s profile; on the verso is a grieving poem Donn wrote for her.
Donn married Ella only a few years later, but because of a train accident almost right after their marriage, she, too, was plagued by bad health, and they never had children. Mac-O-Chee castle was built onto the original cottage in 1881 to once again answer to a doctor’s prescribed “fresh air and rest” for Donn’s wife. Still, they were very happy and in love, and by all accounts, Donn was a doting husband, a clever host, and a great guy. He was well known as a writer, journalist, and politico; he had adament opinions, and wasn’t afraid of controversy. He always kept a framed portrait of Abraham Lincoln over his desk, despite Lincoln’s adament dislike of him due to a young Donn Piatt’s insubordinant behavior early in the war. Donn also told some very funny stories and had a wry sense of humor. His death came about after he was called to give a lecture in Cinnicinnati, rode home in the rain, and fell sick for several days. He died in his study, which he called his “den,” sitting at his desk, which he had asked to be helped to as soon as he felt strong enough to move. Upwards of 700 people attended the funeral, which was covered by several newspapers.
I have less to say about Abram Piatt, but he doesn’t deserve to be in the background. Although he wasn’t as flashy a person, he was definitely an active, active guy; he ran for governor of Ohio twice–once at the age of 83. He was a brigadier general in the Civil War, had eight children with his first wife Hannah, and built Mac-A-Cheek castle with his son William and without the aid of blueprints. He also founded the Mac-A-Cheek Press, a local newspaper that ran for some time. Unfortunately I simply don’t know as much about Abram. His middle name was Sanders? I don’t know what Donn’s middle name was. A lot of the burials in the Piatt Cemetery turn out to have been war buddies of his, though. I know more about his son William, who was a tinkerer and an inventor, but this isn’t about William, this is about the cemetery.
Apart from the Piatt brothers themselves and the occupants of the crypts, there are a number of other graves beyond the hill. This really surprised me the first time I went back there. Of course, that is what I dedicated the last Piatt Cemetery post to, so I’m going going to leave this one at this.
Of course, that is what I dedicated the last Piatt Cemetery post to, so I’m going going to leave this one at this. The following is all the more recent spring and summertime pictures taken at the cemetery.