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Greenwood Cemetery

Greenwood Cemetery, 1602 Greenwood Avenue, Hamilton, was modeled after the world-famous Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston and Spring Grove in Cincinnati.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The web site of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office of the Ohio Historical Society says Greenwood "embodies the virtues and characteristics of the 'rural cemetery movement,' popular in the United States around the middle of the 19th century.

At a Feb. 25, 1848, meeting in the Butler County Courthouse, John W. Erwin, John M. Millikin and Gov. William Bebb were appointed a committee to inspect and recommend a site in or near Hamilton. Because discussions about a non-profit cemetery had started the previous year, the process didn't take long. At a March 16 meeting, the full committee approved purchase of 21.29 acres from David Bigham at $125 per acre. A month later, stockholders bought an additional 5.57 acres of Bigham land, then northeast of Hamilton, a city of about 3,200. Adolph Strauch, the landscape architect and gardener who designed Spring Grove Cemetery, planned Greenwood. Most of the work of laying out the cemetery was by Millikin, Erwin and Henry S. Earhart. Most of the grounds were ready by the fall of 1848, and burial lots were priced at $25.

Strangely, the first internment was Sarah Bebb, a daughter of one the cemetery's founders, Gov. William Bebb. The governor's term didn't expire until Jan. 22, 1849. He didn't seek a second term, according to some sources, because of the illness of his daughter. Two-year-old Sarah Bebb was buried Oct. 12, 1848, two days after her death. When Bebb moved his family to near Rockford, Ill., in 1850, the child's body was removed to a burial plot there. Within a year of its opening, Greenwood became the final resting place of several victims of the 1849 cholera epidemic. Within a few years, more than 1,800 remains were moved to Greenwood from two pioneer cemeteries. They were the Hamilton Burying Ground between Sycamore, South Third and South Fourth streets, and the Rossville Cemetery between Park Avenue, North D Street and Wayne Avenue. Removals from other locations outnumbered new burials, 199 to 117, in the cemetery's first two years. (See Symmes Monument for Hamilton Burying Ground and Sutherland Park for Rossville Cemetery.)

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