|Evergreen Cemetery; photo by Mark Collier|
Evergreen Cemetery, Campbell County's largest cemetery, located on Alexandria Pike in Southgate, Ky., was established in 1847. Driving past you likely have noted its beauty. But did you know how many prominent Kentuckians are buried there?
There's William Horsfall, who ran away from home, became a Civil War drummer and received the Medal of Honor at 15. There's Newport native Brent Spence (of the Brent Spence Bridge fame), a banker, attorney and influential congressman. There's Nelson B. Klein, a member of New York's "Irish Brigade" in WWI and, later, an FBI agent involved in numerous high-profile investigations. And, of course, there's the Shaler Battery, built as a Civil War defense—and so much more.
Thanks to Patrick Ganote, an 18-year-old senior at Highlands High School and member of Boy Scout Troop 70, all of this information is now easily accessible and relatable due to his creation of a virtual walking tour for his Eagle Scout project.
|Patrick Ganote, painting a pole as part of his Eagle Scout project.|
"I was looking for ideas for a project when I saw a notice in the Recorder about a meeting for the Friends of Evergreen Cemetery organization," Ganote says. He knew a couple scouts who had done projects at the cemetery. "I met Mr. Scott Froedenhoff at the meeting and he suggested a walking tour. He knew a lot about the cemetery and actually helped me decide who to put on the tour. I had driven past the cemetery many times but I didn't realize that it was so big—largest in Campbell County and one of the largest in the state. I also didn't realize how important it was during the Civil War."
In the virtual walking tour Ganote writes about the Civil War battery, located at the top of the hill: In 1862, the Confederate Army began marching towards Cincinnati. Union General Lew Wallace called for white volunteers from Cincinnati to build defenses but few answered the call. On September 2, Provost Guards abducted black men from their homes and forced them to march across the Ohio River into Northern Kentucky to build defenses for Cincinnati there. Abolitionists and the press were outraged. Judge William Dickerson was appointed colonel to solve the problem. He freed 400 black men held captive in Ft. Mitchell and said they could come back if they wanted to volunteer. The next day 700 black volunteers showed up. The volunteers built eight miles of fortresses and roads, including the Shaler Battery, in just ten days. The volunteers became known as The Black Brigade of Cincinnati. When the Confederates arrived and saw the fortresses, they decided not to attack. Many members of the Black Brigade ended up joining other African-American regiments to fight for the Union in the Civil War.
It's powerful, important information that we should all know, and through his project Ganote has made it accessible to all. And he personally learned a lot throughout his research.
"I found out information about the founder of Newport, Southgate and Fort Thomas, who are all buried in Evergreen," Ganote says. "A Revolutionary War soldier—Major David Leitch—is buried very close to a Confederate General—George Baird Hodge. I found out that he worked in the Kentucky state legislature both before and after the Civil War. He ended up retiring to Florida and growing oranges [but when he died] his body was brought back here.
"Another interesting person was Nelson Klein who was an FBI agent killed in the line of duty. I found out that a local group of retired FBI and law enforcement worked to replace his original tombstone when it was damaged."
|Ganote and friends installing signs for the walking tour.|
|Friends helping Ganote achieve his Eagle Scout rank.|
In order to become an Eagle Scout Ganote says you must advance through all the ranks, complete required merit badges, complete at least six months of a leadership position within the troop and complete a project—this is his project. "I am in the process of scheduling my Board of Reviews, which is where a group of troop leaders and a council representative can ask me any questions about my project and scouting," Ganote says. "You must pass the Board of Reviews to earn your Eagle Rank."
|Signs are now posted throughout Evergreen Cemetery, part of the walking tour.|
|All the walking tour signs were created by JaMar Signs.|
All the signs for the walking tour were created by JaMar Signs in Fort Thomas. "I worked with Jay [Simpson] and Chris Simpson and they designed the look of the signs," Ganote says. "I ordered the materials and poles from them. Chris also designed the website. Dave Smith, the superintendent of Evergreen, was very helpful and great to work with [too]."
Ganote hopes that this project will inspire volunteers to join Friends of the Cemetery. "I think that this project is important because it will bring attention to the rich history that is in the cemetery," he says. Volunteers are currently needed to fix tombstones, tend to old trees and work on its roads. "Currently the cemetery doesn't have the budget to handle all of these needs so volunteers are needed who can help with projects or donations," Ganote says. "There are so many important historical people resting here that I hope this project will draw people in to learn about our local history and want to help."
|Evergreen Cemetery; photo by Mark Collier|
The next Friends of the Cemetery meeting will be held August 27. For more information, visit here and here, or call (859) 391-7218.