Lives Lived .  .  .

Lives Remembered

The Old Burying Ground, Greenfield, Ohio

Established in 1799 by General Duncan McArthur when he founded the town of Greenfield, this is the oldest cemetery in Greenfield and is gradually being preserved by a small group of volunteers.


The Old Burying Ground (a.k.a. Pioneer Cemetery) is located in Greenfield, Ohio, Highland County, Madison Township. It is located near the banks of Paint Creek, on McArthur Way, adjacent to the present location of Travellers Rest. There are almost 900 burials in the cemetery. The earliest burial is believed to be that of an infant son of John Coffey who died in 1800 (monument not found). The first adult burial was that of William Bell – veteran of the American Revolutionary War – first adult person buried in Highland County (5/28/1763-11/18/1801). He was disinterred from the Old Burying Ground and re-buried in the Greenfield Cemetery in the Bell family plot. The last known burial occurred in 1988 (Oscar McCabe, 1914-1988).

Over the years, weather, neglect, lawnmowers, and vandals took a toll on the cemetery. The inscriptions on many of the monuments are entirely obliterated, and on others it is extremely difficult to decipher. Many monuments are broken and some of the pieces have been difficult to find and some impossible to find (so far). In some cases we have found bases but no headstones. Many are leaning and about to fall over. We have no real map of the locations of specific burials and utilize the list of burials provided in “Cemetery Inscriptions of Highland County, Ohio”, compiled by David N. McBride, Jane N. McBride, and other sources. In addition, we also have created and maintain a list of burials with more information as we find it. We are also in the process of mapping the cemetery and each burial will be placed on the website.

Some noted burials include: prominent Abolitionist and Presbyterian minister Samuel Crothers buried here near the site where he gave the first sermon against slavery from a pulpit west of the Allegheny Mountains. Rachel Stafford (believed to be the first African American in Greenfield), a female former slave (died May 21, 1858, at approximately 80 years old), is buried in the cemetery. She was listed in the 1850 census as a member of the Samuel Crothers household.

Johannes Fernau (Virnau), (John Fernow), was born in Herleshaussen Germany on Feb 21, 1760, and is buried in the cemetery. He was a soldier in the Erbprinz Regt, was captured with Cornwallis's Army at Yorktown where he became one of the many prisoners housed in the Hessian  arracks in Frederick.

Veterans from 5 Wars are buried in this cemetery: Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish American War, and WWII.


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