It is August of 2018 and the My GI Foundation and the NABVETS Chapter #68 are donating 18 beautiful headstones to honor those markers who have crumbled over the years. Soldies are buried there from the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. This project is one of the most honorable gestures we have been fortunate to spearhead and there will be other cemetery projects in the near future.
Memorial Pioneer Cemetery marks the only restored remnant of the pioneer settlement of Columbia. The cemetery, 2.2 acres at Wilmer Avenue north of Davis Lane, is the oldest cemetery in Hamilton County and is the final resting place of Revolutionary and Civil War veterans and pioneers. The oldest stone now existing in the cemetery is that of five months old Phebe Stites, daughter of Captain Hezekiah Stites. Tiny Phebe died on March 14, 1797. Burials probably began at least as early as 1790, the date of the founding of the Columbia Baptist Church on this site. A tall Corinthian pillar taken from the old Post Office building, which was erected in 1856, was placed here in 1888 after the post office was razed. There is also a marker dedicated in 1923, a memorial to Major Benjamin Sites, 1734-1804, who founded the town of Columbia. On March 23, 1937, the Cincinnati Baptist Church conveyed to the City of Cincinnati the Columbia Baptist Cemetery in order to establish it as a Memorial Pioneer Cemetery. The area was neglected over the years until Frederick L. Payne, then Supervising Horticulturalist for the Park Board, began a restoration project in 1967. As a result of his work, which continued through 1971, he prepared two volumes that permanently recorded the history of the cemetery. The volumes, which are at the Cincinnati Historical Society, list all those persons who could be identified as buried there since 1790 and include photographs of all markers existing during the restoration period. Frederick L. Payne retired as Director of Parks on January 1, 1987. In appreciation of his contributions, through private donations, a simple colonial garden is planted near the cemetery.
Senator Joe Uecker took me to lunch when I was fourteen to discuss high level military service and a career in government service. He is a regular speaker at My GI Foundation banquets and is always ready to lend a hand to support my philanthropy and service to veterans. He has represented the 14th District since 2013 as a Republican member of the Ohio Senate.
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