Collections Corner: Greenhill Cemetery Research Collection – MSS 247
Kentucky is a state with a rich and complex past, and Greenhill Cemetery plays an important part in commemorating that history. The cemetery, located in Frankfort, was established in 1865 and has since been the burial place for much of Franklin County’s African-American community. Greenhill is also home to the Kentucky African-American Civil War Memorial, which is one of only four monuments dedicated to African-American troops in the country. The memorial lists 142 names inscribed in a limestone pillar with the dedication: “In Memory of the Colored Soldiers Franklin County, Kentucky Who Fought in the Civil War 1861-1865.”
The Greenhill Cemetery Collection is comprised of death certificates, obituaries, and names from the Vital Statistics Death Index of those who were buried at the cemetery between, approximately, 1911 and 1977. Brenda DuVall collected this information and gave it to the African-American Genealogy Group of Kentucky, where a group of volunteers, led by Mary Clay, indexed the research.
Mary Clay made this gracious donation to the Kentucky Historical Society because of the institution’s computerization of records and ease of accessibility. She stated that she wanted this resource to be available to everyone.
By examining these documents, one may be able to gain insight in to some of the mysteries of the region’s past. For example, there are a number of white people buried at Greenhill Cemetery, not only in pauper’s graves but in family lots, per Ms. Clay. What are the implications of white families having lots in a historically African-American cemetery? Also, what does the juxtaposition of the Greenhill Cemetery’s African-American Civil War Memorial for Union troops and the Frankfort Cemetery’s Confederate Monument located two miles away say about the region’s diverse history?
This collection will be a valuable resource to researchers, genealogists, and those wanting to learn more about the history of the region, including the story of their own family. The collection has been processed and is available for viewing in the Martin F. Schmidt Research Library – no appointment is necessary. The index to this collection has been digitized and is available for free through our Digital Collections Catalog.