Linden Grove Cemetery
(take the Linden Grove Cemetery photo tour)
In 1835, the Western Baptist Theological Institute purchased approximately 150-acres of land south of the City of Covington for the construction of a major theological seminary. A college building and several homes were constructed on this property.
The Institute laid out a small cemetery on a portion of their extensive grounds. The cemetery was originally called the Cincinnati and Covington Cemetery. By the early 1840s, the Craig Street Cemetery in Covington was reaching capacity. The trustees of the Theological Institute saw the expansion of their cemetery as a means to increase income for their educational endeavors. Plans were developed to expand and improve the cemetery. Ephraim Robbins was given the commission to design an extensive cemetery that would serve the entire Covington area.
Following the construction of roads, a three-acre pond, and the planting of many trees and shrubs, Linden Grove Cemetery (the new name for the endeavor) was officially consecrated on September 18, 1843. Representatives from the various Protestant churches of the city were in attendance.
The growth of the City of Covington eventually surrounded the cemetery. Today the property is bordered by 13th, Kavanaugh and Linden Streets. In 1858, the cemetery was sold to Samuel Walker, who continued to improve the facilities. By that year, more than 2,000 burials had taken place at Linden Grove.
The construction of Highland Cemetery in Ft. Mitchell in 1869 decreased the number of burials at Linden Grove. By the 1920s, the cemetery was in a dilapidated condition. Beginning in 1926, efforts were made to improve and better care for the cemetery. In that year, Garfield Post of the Grand Army of the Republic acquired a cannon for the cemetery. In 1928, Richard C. Stewart, owner of the Stewart Iron Works, donated $580 for improvements. He also directed four of his employees to spend five weeks cleaning and repairing the property. The year 1928 also saw the establishment of the Linden Grove Memorial Association. The group was founded to provide funds for the general upkeep of the property. By this time, there were few burials taking place at Linden Grove. In 1948, the cemetery was placed in receivership. At this same time, the sexton was let go.
By the 1960s, the cemetery was overgrown with weeds and vandalism had taken its toll. Vaults had been broken into, headstones overturned and the grounds littered with trash. Only the work of Cemetery Superintendent Edward V. Overbay kept the property from being completely abandoned. Overbay was appointed to this position in the early 1960s. When Overbay died in 1996, his son, Jonathon Overbay took over the duties as superintendent.
In 1974, the cemetery received a generous gift from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Under the leadership of Governor Wendell Ford, the state allocated $25,000 for general maintenance and restoration. At about that same time, the City of Covington and the Kenton County Fiscal Court came to an agreement to provide funds for the upkeep of the cemetery. Despite these additional sources of revenue, the budget barely covered general maintenance. In order to cut costs, the three-acre pond on the property was drained in 1981.
In the spring of 1998, an independent Linden Grove Cemetery Board was established. Membership on the board included two individuals chosen by the fiscal court, two by the City of Covington and one member at large.
Many prominent Northern Kentuckians are laid to rest at Linden Grove Cemetery. Among the most notable is United States Congressman and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury John G. Carlisle. Other congressmen interred in the cemetery include William Wright Southgate and William Evans Arthur. Other notables who have resting places in Linden Grove include: Thomas Kennedy, one of the founders of Covington; B.F. Howard, the founder of the African American Elks; Alexander Greer, and early entrepreneur in Covington; Asa Drury, first Superintendent of Covington Schools; Dr. Adam Kelly, an early African American physician; Ephraim Robbins, and early Trustee of the Western Baptist Theological Institute and namesake for nearby Robbins Street; Reverend William Orr, an early Baptist preacher in the community; Dr. Louise Southgate, a pioneer female physician and women’s rights advocate and Isaac Martin, believed to be the first white male born in Kenton County (1798-1883). The cemetery also serves as the final resting place for veterans of the American Revolution, War of 1812, Indian Campaigns, Civil War (both Union and Confederate soldiers), Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II and the Korean War.
The original records of the cemetery are on file at the Kenton County Public Library in Covington.
Cincinnati Post, June 25, 1981, p. 1B; Kentucky Post, August 1, 1974, October 14, 1996, p. 12A, November 5, 1997, p. 2K, December 5, 1997, p. 1K, April 10, 1998, p. 2K, May 31, 1999, p. 4K and August 16, 2001, p. 4K; Kentucky Enquirer, October 3, 1968