Wesleyan Cemetery

The Wesleyan Cemetery is the oldest continually operated cemetery in Hamilton county, and is a great place to go to experience Cincinnati and American history.  The history of the cemetery is blotted with periods of neglect, deterioration and scandal.  In 1992, for example, reports arose about unearthed bones being found in discarded dirt piles.

Many of the headstones are broken, uprooted or completely blank because they are so weathered and neglected.  The ground will occasionally sink in as you walk.  I took a field trip here in high school, and while browsing the grounds a friend and I came across a hole in the ground big enough to put an arm into (we didn’t).  We looked into it and saw something wooden in the darkness under the ground.  This time, I went and found the hole again but it was filled with leaves.

All photos from iPhone.  More photos later.

Door to a Family Vault

broken headstone


3 Responses to “Wesleyan Cemetery”

  1. Linda Branigan Says:

    When my grandmother was still alive, I would take her to this cemetary to place flowers on her brothers, father & mothers grave. She passed in 1984 however, over the years I had gone back to continue her tradition. The past several times I have been there, I cannot locate the grave sites. Coming in the main entrance, there is a slight hill with a building on it. If you were standing facing building with your back to the entrance, their graves were in the next section to the left slightly up the next little hill. I know the section and where they should be. but cannot find them. It is horrible that the city allowed tis to happen to these old treasures.
    Linda Branigan

  2. JohnT Says:

    It looks as thought after a massive letter writing campaign to city officials years ago, that ultimately helped the removal of Merkle — the city is now copping out….Note the following (excerpt):
    “The suit, filed today in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court, asks that Merkle and family members who also are cemetery trustees, be removed from control and ordered to return $93,000 in cemetery assets Merkle stole. ” Article date: February 27, 2004
    Now note this:
    “The city of Cincinnati is now the proud owner of a neglected cemetery in Northside, a Hamilton County Judge ruled Tuesday.

    Common Pleas Judge Steve Martin ruled that the most recent owners of the Wesleyan Cemetery, Robert and Bonnie Merkle, had abandoned it.

    “The cemetery has become an overgrown eyesore as well as a nuisance to its neighbors,” the judge wrote in his decision. “The cemetery has become a place where lawlessness is rampant.”

    The city now will have to decide how to maintain the 160-year-old cemetery…”
    Article date: September 28, 2005
    Now look at this:
    …” The city is the first to fight an 1869 state law requiring local governments to maintain public cemeteries on land they annex, state officials say.

    Cincinnati’s fight to end the up to $50,000 annual maintenance costs at a former Methodist cemetery is in a state appeals court and could wind up in the Ohio Supreme Court, affecting the municipal care of dozens of formerly private cemeteries that have been abandoned statewide.”

    Daily Sentinel February 12, 2007
    Can’t expect much better from city officials. Shirking their responsibilities!!

    It might be well to point out here that Wesleyan Cemetery contains the remains of Veterans who fought in every war from the Revolution to Korea. It is my understanding that there is any obligation on the part of the Government to maintain these graves. Undoubtedly they’ll cop out of that too!

    I tend now to never believe anything a chumpass politician says.

  3. Liz McEwan Says:

    Hey! Happy to have found this post.
    I work for Keep Cincinnati Beautiful. We’ve actually been taking care of this property for the City for a few years now.

    It’s an amazing and beautiful place, isn’t it? It was the first racially integrated cemetery in Cincinnati and has a very rich history. We’re having a hard time finding volunteers to help with the maintenance. Thanks for highlighting it! Maybe some folks will look into helping preserve it!

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