Clifton-Union Cemetery

Clifton-Union Cemetery

Tanyard Road, Clifton
Hours of Operation: 8:00 am till dark
Cemetery Sexton:  Dan Gochenouer  937-477-0597
Cost of Burial Plot:  $600.00. Graves in New Section D, $800.00
Cost of Opening and Closing Burial Plot: $650.00


Summarized from an article by Ms. Julie Overton, October 1978

Soon after the Clifton (Cliffside) Presbyterian Church was organized on the third Sunday in August 1811, a log structure was built to hold church services in. This log building was located on the hill over the present cemetery vault, about 50 feet north of General Whitman’s grave. By 1830 it became necessary to build a larger church, and therefore a brick structure was erected about two hundred feet west of the log church. During the late 1840’s and early 1850’s various plans were made for an even larger building. In 1854 the present church was built on land donated by William D. Johnson and Bennett Lewis. Although minor changes have been made to the building, it looks much like it did when first erected.

The cemetery was started as a part of the church grounds, the first burials probably having been about 1813 or 1814. Dills History of Greene Co. states that one of the earliest burials was a person named Johnson. The earliest stone still standing, 1n 1976, is #337, that of Robert E. Stewart, who died Sept. 16, 1816. The cemetery is currently still in use. It has been used officially as a public cemetery since 1897 when the church deeded the cemetery to the trustees of Miami Township, Greene County and Green Township, Clark County.

It should be noted here that there have reportedly been at least two other cemeteries within, or very close to the Village of Clifton, according to an unpublished history written by Stafford McCullough in 1937. One appears to be the burial grounds associated with the First Baptist Church, located about a quarter mile west of the “Antioch Church”, at what was known as Whitman’s Ford at the head of the canyon of the Little Miami River. This church was destroyed by fire before the so-called “Antioch Church” was built in 1811. The other cemetery to be located in the Clifton area was that cemetery used for the former slaves of Benjamin Whitman, on the grounds of his farm.

Presuming that the “old section” of the Clifton Cemetery was in use by the mid-1810’s, it appears that the first actual platting took place on Oct. 27, 1831. Various sections have been added through the years, with the most recent one having occurred in June, 1963.

Interesting items about the graves in the cemetery include several stones. The most famous one undoubtedly being the grave marker of Lodwick Austin who reportedly died while he was driving the stagecoach between Xenia and Springfield and slipped into the gorge when one of the wheels fell of the edge. According to local history, this was therefore the “first traffic accident in Greene County, Ohio occurring on Sept. 1, 1836 when Lodwick was 26 years of age. Another, the Rev. Andrew Poage died in 1840, and his parishioners buried him at the front of the old log church pulpit. His successor Rev. Moses Russell, a graduate of Allegheny Seminary, served for 24 years and was married four times. His first wife, Alethia, died in 1841. His second wife was Nancy Jane who died in 1843, his third wife, Abigal, died in 1855 and his fourth wife, Phoebe Jane outlived him not dying until 1899. Rev. Moses is buried along side of all four of these women, as are two of his children.

Finally, a few of the stones indicate the place of birth. Some places of origin are, according to the stones, Chester South Carolina, Bedford County Pennsylvania, Delaware County New York, Rockbridge County Virginia, Milnacraic Forfarshire Scotland, and Kempston England. Also buried in the cemetery are soldiers from the War of 1812 who came from other states including New York and Maryland.