In 1843 Wesley Chapel's Catherine Street Cemetery in downtown Cincinnati had outgrown it's needs.
Twenty-five acres of land was purchased from Timothy Kirby by a Methodist church group for a cemetery with a caretaker's house and chapel. The ministers and laymen buried at the old site were brought out to the new cemetery and reinterred.
Originally revered as being a beautiful graveyard, being kept by the original groundskeeper of the Catherine Street cemetery, by 1914 it was described as being "indifferently kept".
In 1930 the City of Cincinnati decided to extend Beekman Street to Colerain to link with Kirby Road. This meant using some of the land occupied by the cemetery. Unfortunately for the city, they found that when annexing Cumminsville in 1873, they had neglected to annex the grounds of the cemetery. It was not made part of the city till 1953. One of the problems with the cemetery not being a part of the city was that emergency crews would not be able to respond to problems at services there since it was outside the jurisdiction of the city. Besides funerals, there were Veterans day and Memorial day services held there annually.
As early as 1950 problems were beginning to arise with unmarked and mismarked graves. In 1975 and again in 1992 families fought with caretakers to find the sites of their ancestors graves in the poorly-kept cemetery. In 1992 people reported finding unearthed bones in discarded dirt piles at the cemetery. Charges were made that plots were being resold.
Wesleyan's latest problems have involved missing funds earmarked for the upkeep of the grounds.
There are veterans of every war the United States has fought buried at Wesleyan Cemetery. It is the resting place of Richard Allison, who held a rank in the military equivalent to Surgeon General from 1792 to 1796. He was also the first resident physician of Cincinnati. Veteran's Day and Memorial Day services held at the cemetery had pretty much come to an end decades ago. Since 2007, the College Hill/Northside Kiwanis have held Memorial Day services at the cemetery.
While we regularly support our parks with their swing sets and ballfields, we neglect our cemeteries with their monuments to faith, family, valor and frequently wealth --- but wealth arrived at through hard work and persistence. A measure of a society is how it takes care of it's members who cannot take care of themselves. No segment of our society is less able to care for themselves and requires so little than our dead.
Wesleyan Cemetery Civil War and Underground Railroad History
Other Notable Interments at Wesleyan
Visit the unofficial Wesleyan Cemetery website.
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