Kentucky cemetery receives donation

FRANKFORT, Ky (WTVQ) – A historic cemetery is getting some much-needed maintenance.

The historic Greenhill Cemetery in Frankfort is home to the only Kentucky monument, and one of four in the nation, honoring black soldiers that fought in the Civil War. The cemetery was established in 1865 and has strong roots in the community, with the cemetery’s upkeep completely run by volunteers.

Though the cemetery receives funding from the City of Frankfort, the costs to continue its care often require more. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the cemetery’s board has been unable to host its usual community fundraisers for the upkeep costs.

Often, board members find themselves using their free time to care for the cemetery.

“Lord knows it needs a lot of work. Like, Freddie and I have spent a lot of nights up here and I never thought I’d be in a cemetery at nighttime doing work that needs to be done,” said Greenhill Cemetery Committee Chair Jeanette Walker.

Tuesday, the cemetery board received $11,872 from Buffalo Trace Distillery to beautify and continue the cemetery’s maintenance. The donation is the largest the cemetery has received in recent history, and the board hopes the funding will help to continue to honor those that have come before them.

“Of course, we’re honoring the ones that have gone before us that fell in the Civil War. It’s wonderful to us to have somewhere to be recognized. So often, of course, African-Americans don’t get recognized. But this does recognize us and we want to make sure that we maintain it and keep it up. A lot of people don’t know, like I said, that it’s here,” siad Greenhill Cemetery Committee Treasurer Emma Tillman.

The idea came from renowned Buffalo Trace Distillery tour guide Freddie Johnson, who has family members buried in the cemetery. When the distillery re-branded their root beer to “Freddie’s Root Beer” in his honor, he suggested proceeds from the sales go to help Greenhill Cemetery.

“For me, it’s a legacy. I’m hoping that, when I no longer walk this earth, that my grandkids can look back and say, ‘this is what Papaw did,'” said Johnson.

Today’s proceeds will go to repairing the cemetery’s roads and gravestones, and will also go to helping build a grid of the cemetery to locate previously undiscovered grave sites.

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