United American Cemetery
Historic African American burial ground
The United American Cemetery, in Madisonville, was originally called the Colored American Cemetery. It was dedicated in 1883, but it includes many older tombstones, going back to the 1840’s and 1850’s. That’s because the cemetery was originally in another location, but it was forced to move.
In 1848, a group called the United Colored American Association (UCAA) founded a cemetery in a rural area that would become the village of Avondale. But as Avondale grew into a wealthy white enclave, some property-owners became increasingly unhappy about having an African American cemetery nearby.
In 1880, a group of powerful, white property-owners from 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 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.
Notable persons buried here include:
- William H. Beckley (1817-1880), Underground Railroad Conductor.
- Lizzie Darneal Branch (1858-1937), entrepreneur in Walnut Hills.
- Samuel Wilcox Clark (1847-1903),author of “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 Nashville’s Fisk Jubilee Singers.
- Joseph H. Earley (1846-1934), first black elected official in Ohio.
- Henry Ellis (1846-1914), Civil War officer in the 54th Massachusetts (“Glory”) Regiment.
- Lulu Belle Ferguson (d. 1972), owner of Cincinnati’s Cotton Club.
- John Isom Gaines (1821-1859), abolitionist and education advocate.
- Frank A. B. Hall (1870-1934), first African American elected to Cincinnati City Council.
- Marshall P. H. Jones (1826-1891), leading member in 1862 of Cincinnati’s Black Brigade.
- Alice Easton Leland (1876-1962), first Black woman to graduate from the University of Cincinnati.
- Harry M. Martin (1893-1945), track star who set a world record in the low hurdles.
- Leana Beatrice Morton (1901-1981), literary scholar.
- Porter Moss (1910-1944), Negro Leagues pitcher for the Cincinnati Tigers.
- William H. Parham (1841-1904), attorney and state senator.
- Miranda Boulden Parker (1829-1920), widow of Underground Railroad hero John P. Parker.
- Irvine Garland Penn (1866-1930), journalist, officer in the Methodist Freedman’s Aid Society.
- James Warren Rankin (1926-1978), politician and social worker.
- Isaac Nelson Ross (1855-1927), Bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal church.
- Estella C. Rowe (1914-2000), soprano who performed with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
- Horace Suddeth (1898-1957), businessman, owner of Cincinnati’s Manse Hotel.
- Charles H. Thompson (1835-1902), early voting rights advocate and Episcopal priest.
- Priscilla Jane Thompson (1871-1942), poet, author of “Ethiope Lays.”
- Ila Marshall 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), solider who served in WWI with the Harlem Hellfighters.