A work in progress


Greenfield’s Old Burying Ground receiving facelift

By Angela Shepherd - For The Times-Gazette



John King works on a broken gravestone at Greenfield’s Old Burying Ground cemetery.

John King works on a broken gravestone at Greenfield’s Old Burying Ground cemetery.


Venus Andersen, Scott Andersen, and Mike Anderson are pictured during a work session at the Old Burying Ground in Greenfield.


For the last several years Greenfield’s Old Burying Ground, the cemetery that sits behind Traveller’s Rest on the east side of the town, has been getting some help with restoration and upkeep by local individuals who just want to make sure lives are honored and history is preserved.

According to information provided by Greenfield native and cemetery volunteer John King, there are nearly 900 burials in the Old Burying Ground, with the first said to have occurred in 1800, and the last known to have occurred in 1988. There are veterans from five wars buried there. Also, there are more than 200 buried at the cemetery that were born in the 1700s, nearly 600 born in the 1800s, just a few from the 1900s, and 84 of an unknown birth year. Notable people buried in the cemetery include abolitionist and minister Samuel Crothers, former slave Rachel Stafford, and Hessian soldier Johannes Fernau, among others.

There’s a core group of volunteers that have worked to restore the cemetery, which include King and Scott Andersen. In 2013, King and Andersen attended a cemetery workshop in Warren County where they gained information to be applied at the Old Burying Ground. In 2014, they held the first work session, and there were joined by Andersen’s wife, Venus Andersen, and Mike Anderson, all of whom have remained the core group of volunteers.

Beyond gaining some knowledge on the know-how of taking on such a task was the idea of doing something to preserve Greenfield history and to honor the deceased. Since that first work session, more than 80 sessions have followed with more than 1,600 hours of time logged on the project in the last eight years.

Since 2014, they have had work sessions several times a year, and together with other volunteers, have endeavored to locate missing gravestones, find pieces missing off gravestones so that they can be made whole, cleaning gravestones, and repositioning and repairing gravestones. Additionally, they work to decipher inscriptions on stones and update records as much as possible.

Along with all the work to repair and maintain the gravestones, they also see to the tasks of picking up trash, removing weeds and other unwanted vegetation, and planting grass seed where it’s needed.

While volunteers have accomplished a lot through the years at the Old Burying Ground, there is still a lot to do, King said. The group’s future plans include involving more people in the project, creating a map of the cemetery, repairing the above-ground box tombs, continuing to research the history of those buried at the cemetery, and recording inscriptions, burial locations, and GPS locations.

And while it’s difficult work, there are many rewards. There’s pride, the community involvement and working alongside others toward a common goal, and honoring the deceased while preserving history.

The volunteers doing the work through the years are not an organized group and are not part of an organized group like the historical society or the village, though John King said “both have been good supporters of our efforts.”

Those who show up to volunteer vary from one work session to another, but the core group tries to notify those who have expressed interest each time there is a new work session scheduled. This is also usually posted on the Greenfield Historical Society’s online calendar and on the village of Greenfield, Ohio Facebook page. Anyone interested in volunteering with the work at the Old Burying Ground can email King at [email protected] and you will receive updates and reminders for when work sessions are scheduled.

Those that just want to observe the work and the progress are welcome to do so during work sessions. Anyone wishing to make a monetary contribution to the project may do so by making the check payable to the Greenfield Historical Society (indicate on the memo line that the donation is for the Old Burying Ground) and mailing it to The Greenfield Historical Society, P.O. Box 266, Greenfield, Ohio 45123.

Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.

John King works on a broken gravestone at Greenfield’s Old Burying Ground cemetery.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/06/web1_J-King-taken-by-S-Andersen.jpgJohn King works on a broken gravestone at Greenfield’s Old Burying Ground cemetery.

Venus Andersen, Scott Andersen, and Mike Anderson are pictured during a work session at the Old Burying Ground in Greenfield.
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2022/06/web1_Venus-Andersen-Scot-Andersen-Mike-Anderson-taken-by-J-King.jpgVenus Andersen, Scott Andersen, and Mike Anderson are pictured during a work session at the Old Burying Ground in Greenfield.
Greenfield’s Old Burying Ground receiving facelift

By Angela Shepherd

For The Times-Gazette