Gravesite of Reverend David Leroy Nickens

First African American Baptist minister to be ordained in Ohio

David Leroy Nickens was born into slavery in Virginia in 1794. By 1806, he and his parents had moved to Chillicothe, Ohio. In 1824, Nickens was ordained as a minister, and he is believed to have been the first African American Baptist minister ordained in Ohio.

In the 1830’s, the church changed its name to the to the First Anti-Slavery Baptist Church of Chillicothe. Nickens himself was involved in the Underground Railroad and hid fugitives in his own home.

In 1836, Nickens and his family moved to Cincinnati, where he had been called as pastor of the African Union Baptist Church (later called Union Baptist Church). He served as this church’s pastor until his death two years later, in 1838. His widow Serena and their children returned to Chillicothe.

David Nickens’ tombstone was apparently carved in 1838. The tombstone is now in Union Baptist Cemetery, but this cemetery was not founded until 1865, so this stone must been moved here from somewhere else. The original location is unknown.


Gravestone of David L. Nickens
Gravestone of David L. Nickens Creator: Chris Hanlin



Chris Hanlin, “Gravesite of Reverend David Leroy Nickens,” Cincinnati Sites and Stories, accessed April 20, 2024,