Filed Under Race and Ethnicity

Beech Grove Cemetery

African American cemetery founded in 1889

Beech Grove Cemetery was founded in 1889 by the Beech Grove Cemetery Association, which was incorporated in May of that year. That July, the cemetery association purchased five-and-a-fraction acres of land on the north side of Fleming Road, in Springfield township, just north of the Village of Wyoming.

Initially, Beech Grove seems to have been mainly a neighborhood cemetery for African Americans who lived nearby. In 1901, a well-known African American house builder named Richard Cammack took over as head of the cemetery association, and he was still in that position in the mid-1930's. For many years, it was rare for an obituary in a Cincinnati newspaper to mention Beech Grove, but from the 1930’s forward, such references become more common. Beech Grove became the burial place of choice for many African Americans, especially from northern suburbs such as Lockland, Wyoming, and Lincoln Heights.

By the 1980’s, the last of the original cemetery trustees had died. Bethel AME Church, an African American congregation located in nearby Lockland, stepped up to provide care for the cemetery, though they had no legal obligation to do so. No sort of fund or endowment for perpetual care existed.

Bethel AME had a small congregation, however, and the financial requirements of keeping up the cemetery became an increasing burden. By 2008, the cemetery was overgrown, and there were complaints by neighbors and by persons with relatives buried in the cemetery. The poor state of the cemetery came to the attention of officials of Springfield Township, and the township assumed ownership and maintenance of the cemetery.

Notable persons buried here include:

Owen K. Blythe (1899-1972), attorney
Richard Cammack (1852-1935), building contractor
William H. G. Carter (1877-1962), first Black Unitarian minister in the US
John A. Coston, Jr. (1930-1951), soldier killed in Korea
Ludlow Luther (1895-1918) soldier in WWI with the Harlem Hellfighters
Jerry C. Maxey (1914-1980), labor leader and business owner
Napoleon Martin (1948-1968), soldier killed in Vietnam
Martin V. Roberts (1862-1948), 1st Black foreman, Cincinnati post office
Felix Salvadore Roseman (1931-1952), soldier killed on active duty
James “Peanut Jim” Shelton (1889-1982), Cincinnati institution
Lloyd C. Trotter, Jr. (1921- 1975), Civil Rights organizer
Cora Orr Walker (1891-1985), hairdresser and musician
Nadine Roberts Waters (1892-1985) opera singer
Guy T. Westmoreland, Sr. (1914-2002), Public servant in Lincoln Heights
Major Lee Zeigler (1871- 1980), business leader

Images

Beech Grove Cemetery, with the Cammack monument at center Creator: Chris Hanlin Date: 2021

Metadata

Chris Hanlin, “Beech Grove Cemetery,” Cincinnati Sites and Stories, accessed November 30, 2022, https://stories.cincinnatipreservation.org/items/show/37.