The United American Cemetery, founded in 1883, was originally called the United Colored Cemetery. It was established by the United Colored American Association (UCAA), which had previously, in 1848, founded a cemetery in Avondale. But in 1880, a group of powerful, white property-owners in Avondale went to the Ohio statehouse to lobby for a bill that would give the Avondale board of health the power to declare that cemetery a public nuisance and have it closed. The bill passed in 1880.
The UCAA protested, but when they were finally forced out of Avondale, they purchased 11.5 acres here on the outskirts of Madisonville. In 1883, the Cincinnati Commercial Gazette reported that the property had been “conveyed to the United Colored American Association, who intend to remove the dead from the old cemetery in Avondale, and convert the same into a cemetery on the park-like plan, after designs furnished by Mr. A. Strauch.” This was Adolph Strauch, the landscape architect of Spring Grove Cemetery and a major figure in the garden cemeteries movement.
Over 1883-84, the UCAA transferred tombstones, coffins, bodies and bones from Avondale to this site. It has been an active cemetery ever since. By 1968, the UCAA no longer existed, and ownership was transferred to Union Baptist Church, which still maintains the cemetery.
This is the resting place of Underground Railroad figures as well as writers, politicians, businesspeople, artists, Civil Rights leaders, and many military veterans, including at least 55 African American veterans of the Civil War. Notable persons buried here include:
- Phoebe Boots Allen (1856-1926), early deaconess in the AME Church.
- William H. Beckley (1817-1880), Underground Railroad Conductor.
- Lizzie Darneal Branch (1858-1937), entrepreneur in Walnut Hills.
- Samuel Wilcox Clark (1847-1903), author, “The Negro Mason in Equity.”
- Curtis Davenport, Jr. (1932-1950), solider killed in action in Korea.
- King Prince Dawson (abt. 1832-1907), “voodoo doctor” of the 1880’s.
- Jennie Jackson DeHart (1855-1910), star of the Fisk Jubilee Singers.
- Thomas Dorum (abt. 1797-1858), Underground Railroad conductor.
- Joseph H. Earley (1846-1934), first black elected official in Ohio.
- Henry Ellis (1846-1914), officer in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment.
- Lulu Belle Ferguson (d. 1972), owner of Cincinnati’s Cotton Club.
- John Isom Gaines (1821-1859), abolitionist and education advocate.
- Frank Hall (1870-1934), first African American on Cincinnati City Council.
- Marshall P. H. Jones (1826-1891), leading member of the Black Brigade.
- Alice E. Leland (1876-1962), first Black woman to graduate from UC.
- Harry M. Martin (1893-1945), track star who set a world record.
- Leana Beatrice Morton (1901-1981), literary scholar.
- Porter Moss (1910-1944), pitcher for the Cincinnati Tigers.
- William H. Parham (1841-1904), attorney and state senator.
- Irvine Garland Penn (1866-1930), journalist.
- James Warren Rankin (1926-1978), politician.
- Isaac Nelson Ross (1855-1927), Bishop in the AME denomination.
- Estella Cavanaugh Rowe (1914-2000), soprano.
- Craig Scott (1856-1893), police officer killed in the line of duty.
- Horace Sudduth (1898-1957), owner of Cincinnati’s Manse Hotel.
- Charles H. Thompson (1835-1902), early voting rights advocate.
- Priscilla Jane Thompson (1871-1942), poet, author of “Ethiope Lays.”
- Ila M. Turpeu (1882-1984), women’s suffragist and Civil Rights activist.
- Harry Ward (1900-1965), Negro Leagues basketball and baseball player.
- Solomon White (1843-1912), mural and scenic painter.
- James Winkfield (1895-1934), WWI solider in the Harlem Hellfighters.