Oakwood cemetery had been designed by the landscaping architect Howard Daniels and opened with the first burial in November 1859. The original 92 acre cemetery was about 2/3 forest and originally only about 32 acres were used for burials. Syracuse mayor Elias Warner Leavenworth was one of the driving forces behind the establishment of Oakwood cemetery. The initial land purchase took place in 1857 and 1858. 72.29 acres were bought from Henry Raynor for $15,000 and 20 acres were purchased for $9,500 from Charles A. Baker. During the planning stages agreements were made to move an existing road which would have passed through the cemetery. The course of the Jamesville Plank Road had to be changed and its toll gate moved. Prior to the development, the road ran from Renwick Avenue southwest through the proposed cemetery land and crossed East Colvin Street. The toll gate was at the intersection of that road and Jamesville Avenue. The present Jamesville Avenue was the former Jamesville Plank Road. Also, rights of way across lands owned by Charles Baker and Dr. David Colvin had to be obtained. The first sexton was George Gardner, who lived in a cottage in the cemetery. His daughter, Lillian Oakwood Gardner, named for the cemetery, was the first birth there and was interred ten months later. J. Lyman Silsbee designed the chapel and receiving vault which opened Nov 1880 and two years later James J. Belden gave a greenhouse, office building and arch under the railroad tracks. The greenhouse was used until World War II, and that archway was closed permanently in 1964 when the state took some land to create Route 81. Eight monuments were included on the Smithsonian Preservation of Cultural Property list in 1993.
To its east another cemetery was founded in 1899, named Morningside Cemetery, which had its first burial in 1900. By 1976 Oakwood Cemetery and Morningside Cemetery have formally consolidated. Oakwood had operated Morningside since 1962. The name "Morningside" is still being used locally or can be found on local maps. Oakwood's sections starting with letters (Sec. B, Sec. C, and so on) show what was originally the Morningside cemetery. There are several other cemeteries, which were historically and geographically separate from Oakwood, but are now being managed by Oakwood Cemeteries Inc. They are listed separately on Findagrave.
Before adding memorials to this listing, please check the following adjacent cemeteries under Oakwood management:
Today the Oakwood Cemetery is the largest in Syracuse, with a size of about 160 acres. The cemetery has hundreds of old historic family plots and monuments. It was added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1991. There is an old crematory and mausoleum in the Morningside part of the cemetery. A newer mausoleum is located between sections 59 and 60 in the newer part of Oakwood. The south-western corner of the cemetery will see Sections 105 and up coming in the future (not constructed yet, as of 2013).