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  • WCPO 9 Cincinnati

    Vandals defaced his grave. Now, Goshen is rallying to support Black resident

    By Keith BieryGolick,


    For more than 100 years, he didn't have a name. At least if you looked at his grave.

    Look at it now, and the marks are still there — identifying information chiseled away hundreds of years ago.

    All because the person buried there is Black.

    “We went for many, many years not knowing he even had a name,” said Jim Poe, a local historian in Goshen Township.

    In the 1800s, a Black person couldn’t be buried in Goshen . At that time, this particular grave was located on private property up the hill from the rest of the cemetery. Eventually, it became part of the larger cemetery.

    Poe’s lived in the township for decades, and he gives tours of this cemetery every year. One day, he’s going to be buried there himself. He already bought the plots.

    Standing in the cemetery, he points to a marker that already has his name on it — just a few feet away from the grave that’s bothered him for years.

    “Who’s buried there?” he asked. “Everybody else has a name on their grave. Who’s buried there?” Keith BieryGolick
    Jim Poe is a Goshen Township historian. And he's one of the people responsible for raising funds for a new marker at the Goshen Cemetery, where a former slave's grave was vandalized years ago — leaving his identity a mystery.

    But this isn’t a story about a grave with no face. This is a story about people who came together to give it one.

    “To be heroes, there need to be villains,” said Cindy Johnson, secretary for the Clermont County Historical Society.

    In this story, the villains chiseled off the marker. And local historians came together to try to right a wrong.

    “His existence was essentially erased from the earth,” Johnson said.

    Eventually, members of the Clermont County Historical Society found a will for the person buried next to this grave. The will mentioned a slave named Dennis. Using census data, the historical society confirmed his first name. Then, they raised money for a proper marker for a man they could now call by name.

    Last weekend, Johnson and about a dozen others gathered at the grave. They were there to remember a dark part of our history, but also celebrate a small kindness.

    Johnson found herself crying.

    “It’s emotional for me. It’s emotional to be able to give him back his name," said Johnson. "Dennis is a good name.”

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    More local news: Ohio House passes CROWN Act, first step in making hair discrimination illegal CPD: Juvenile grazed in the head during drive-by shooting in East Price Hill Vandals defaced his grave. Now, Goshen is rallying to support Black resident

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