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Gypsy Queen’s famous monument deteriorating, and efforts are under way to save it

The memorial marking the burial site of one Dayton’s most famous residents is falling apart. 

“There is a need for a fundraiser for the Stanley monument because of the deterioration and instability of the monument,” said Angie Hoschouer, Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum’s manager of development and marketing. 

>> RELATED: Gypsy queen among 8 badass Dayton women who made history 

The grand monument marks the final resting place of gypsy queen Matilda Joles Stanley.

“Remembering Matilda, Queen of the Gypsies” is set for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 at the cemetery located at 118 Woodland Ave., Dayton.  

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>> Daytonian of the Week: Angie Hoschouer 

The evening includes Gypsy culture and heritage, food,  drinks, music by Tiempo Perdido, tarot card readers, fortune tellers and a historic candlelight walk tracing the original steps of the burial of Matilda Stanley.

Gypsy queen Matilda Stanley's monument (left) at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton. (Amelia Robinson)

General admission is $30 and includes a food bowl and two drink tickets. Patron admission is $50 and includes the food and drink tickets, a Stanley Family booklet and a Woodland T-shirt. The $150 VIP ticket includes a future personalized golf cart tour, the benefits included with the patron tickets (food, drink tickets, etc.) and a ceramic Woodland coaster set and the tote bag.  

About $10,000 is needed to repair the 20-foot granite column monument featuring an angel on top. 

The event’s date marks the 140th anniversary of Matilda’s burial at the historic cemetery.  

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Matilda — who was described as a “plain, hardy–looking woman and having a manner indicative of a strong and pronounced character” in published reports — died in Vicksburg, Mississippi in January 1878 from cancer.

Her body was embalmed and was sent back to Dayton, where it was placed in a receiving vault until tribe members could arrive for her funeral — the largest ever held at Woodland.

>> PHOTOS: Gypsy Queen’s monument at Woodland Cemetery 

More than 20,000 people — a dozen gypsy chiefs and their tribes included — arrived here to pay tribute to Matilda on Sept. 15, 1878, Hoschouer said. 

The funeral attracted press coverage from major newspapers, but was brief and lacked the extraordinary rites many expected.

>> RELATED:  ‘Queen of the gypsies’ buried at Woodland Cemetery

United Brethren Church of Dayton Rev. Dr. Daniel Berger officiated and the First United Brethren Church quartet choir sang hymns. The queen’s casket was transferred from the vault to the family plot that had been purchased so “all the tribesmen and women could be buried when the time came,” according to the late Roz Young, a Dayton Daily News columnist.

Tribute left at gypsy queen Matilda Stanley monument at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton. (Amelia Robinson)

Hoschouer said Stanley’s monument is among the cemetery’s most visited site. 

“The gypsies have that mysterious mystique to them and people want to know what the gypsy did,” she said.

>> RELATED: 5 unique memorials you need to see at historic Woodland Cemetery

Matilda’s husband and gypsy king Levi Stanley and her in-laws Owen and Harriet, the prior gypsy king and queen, are among the family members buried at the memorial.  

Back of gypsy queen Matilda Stanley's monument at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton. (Amelia Robinson)
Tribute left at gypsy queen Matilda Stanley's monument at Woodland Cemetery in Dayton. (Amelia Robinson)

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