Author Archive

Start of the 2024 Volunteer Season

2024 marks the Friends of Eastern Cemetery’s 11th year volunteering at Eastern Cemetery! We’ve faced many challenges over the years including having all of our equipment stolen in 2017. However, the joys of volunteering far outweighs those challenges. We have seen a great documentary filmed and completed about Eastern Cemetery that highlights the struggles for the families of those buried there. We have received grants from the Kentucky Colonels that have paid for perimeter fencing, restoration of the Loomis Wake House building, and installation of the front automatic gate. Lastly, we have been privileged to get to know and speak with so many families with loved ones buried in the cemetery. We have tried to help you find grave locations, install new headstones, and repair the historic ones. We say that volunteering at Eastern Cemetery is service hours for the soul because this work truly makes our souls happy. If you have questions on finding someone buried in the cemetery, check out this blog post.

We are all volunteers, and we can’t do this alone. We need you to volunteer with us! Check our our calendar to see upcoming dates. If you have your own equipment, you can always pop by on your own between 9am and 6pm. If you’ve never volunteered with us before, please reach out beforehand to understand the rules. You can email us at or message us on Facebook and Instagram.

Atlas Preservation’s 48 State Tour – Louisville, Kentucky

Join us at Eastern Cemetery in Louisville, KY.
Free & open to the public
9am-3pm (local time)

Check out the Find a Grave and Eastern Cemetery website:

Participate in gravestone cleaning and learn the most common safe & effective repair techniques!
A discussion on historic preservation will begin the day with a short walk and talk tour, visually surveying some of the most historic gravestones and monuments in need of repair.
Safe & effective removal of biological activity w/ approved stone cleaners & graffiti removal & prevention. HANDS ON! Adopt a stone and perform the cleaning process yourself.
The most common repair techniques will be discussed and performed including resetting a badly leaning or sunken tablet stone and joining broken gravestone fragments using epoxy, clamps, and bracing techniques.
*If time allows* we will employ an overhead, lifting tripod and demonstrate how to rig and lift monuments safely.
*If time allows* we will review materials required and the process involved in replaced eroded or lost stone with the use of a stone infill material, including preparation, application and curing of mortars.

For further questions or concerns regarding this event contact us! Please feel free to bring water, snacks and a chair for breaks. We recommend wearing closed toe shoes and appropriate clothing if participating.

Figures of Eastern Cemetery

In this ongoing series, the Friends of Eastern Cemetery in conjunction with Western Library will feature individuals from Louisville’s Eastern Cemetery to highlight their contributions to Louisville. A brief history of Eastern Cemetery as well as tips on finding relatives will be shared.

We will discuss African American Religious Figures this month, including Rev. Daniel A. Gaddie of Green Street Baptist Church, Rev. Henry Wise Jones also of Green Street Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. John H. Frank of Fifth Street Baptist Church, and Rev. Garrell Winstead of Beargrass Baptist Church.

On Saturday, May 21st at 10am we will offer a tour of the cemetery as a follow up to this presentation.

Finding a Grave

If you are looking for a loved one or a specific grave site in Eastern Cemetery, please start with our previous blog post on this. Once you have a burial location, you should have a Section letter or number, a Range or Row letter or number, and then a Grave number. You can use this 1994 map of the cemetery to find the grave site. If you click on the map image, it will expand. Finding a grave is still tricky as there are no Section signs in the cemetery to help. We hope to fix this one day, but we aren’t there yet. For Section A there are spray painted Range/Row numbers on the driveway and brick wall to assist. As always, please feel free to reach out to us to help you find the location.

Friends of Eastern Cemetery
P.O. Box 6484
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 773-2434

You can also message us on Facebook

Lewis Alexander

Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing recently featured Lewis and Sidney Alexander in the Fall Edition of their newsletter “Riverside Review.” We are going to share Riverside’s research as well as our own as we tell the story of this family.


Lewis Alexander (circa 1839-1915) was born enslaved in Brandenburg, KY to Heykirk and Amy (Butler) Alexander. Sidney Ann Moreman (circa 1837-1910) was also born enslaved in Brandenburg, KY, but her parents are unknown. They were all owned by Alonson and Rachel Moreman. In 1856, Lewis and Sidney had their first child together, Amanda. At the time of her birth legal marriage was rarely permitted by slave holders, and thus, Lewis and Sidney were not legally wed. According to Riverside, “Lewis and Sidney were both enslaved in Brandenburg and moved to Riverside with the Moremens in 1860.” Census records show that Lewis and Sidney were married in 1861. Together they had two more daughters born enslaved: Sidney Belle and Emma. When the family was freed, they moved to Louisville’s 11th Ward where Lewis worked in a brick yard and Sidney took care of the children. In 1869, Sidney gave birth to Mary, and in 1872, she gave birth to Carrie. In 1875, Mary died of complications from tuberculosis. By 1880, their first daughter Amanda was married to Simeon Adams, a pit and well digger. The couple was raising two daughters: Gertrude Glover, Amanda’s daughter from a previous relationship, and their daughter together Emma.


By 1899 Lewis, Sidney, Belle, Emma, and Carrie were living together in a home at 2502 Magazine Street in the Russell Neighborhood. All three of the daughters were teachers (we will share more about them tomorrow). Sidney died on May 9, 1910 at the age of 73. At the time of her death, Sidney and Lewis had been married for 50 years. Lewis died of pneumonia on April 26, 1915 at the age of 76. The couple is buried in the Alexander plot in Eastern Cemetery, which is located in Cave Hill Corner. The entire plot has a single headstone that only says “Alexander.”

Alexander Sisters

Sidney Belle Alexander (circa 1864-1945) and Emma J. Alexander (circa 1865-1947) were born enslaved at Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing. Carrie Elizabeth Alexander (1872-1947) was born after the family was freed and moved to Louisville. Sidney Belle taught at the Eastern Colored School, which was in the Smoketown Neighborhood. The school was renamed Booker T. Washington School. According to staff rosters, she was there at least from 1886-1918. Sidney was a member of the Woman’s Improvement Club, a club for women who strove to better their community. Mamie Steward and Georgia Nugent were also members (we’ve featured them before). In 1884, Emma was valedictorian of the first graduating class of Colored High School (now Central High School). The graduating class consisted of 7 students. Emma was a teacher at the Main Street Colored School and Western Colored School. She was elected to the school board, and she was a charter member of the Charity Pity Literary Club. In 1916, Emma received a Life Certificate from the State Department of Education for 20 years of service. In 1889, Carrie graduated from Colored High School. The graduating class consisted of 14 students including Georgia Nugent and Ellen Bullock (we’ve featured before). Carrie graduated from Fisk University, and she taught English at Central Colored High School for 40 years. She was a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and a deaconess at the Plymouth Congregational Church.
All three sisters remained single. From 1899 to their deaths, they lived in a home at 2502 Magazine Street in the Russell Neighborhood. Sidney Belle died on October 12, 1945 at the age of 83. She was buried with her parents in the Alexander plot in Eastern Cemetery, which is located in Cave Hill Corner. Emma died on May 12, 1947, also at the age of 83. She was buried in Section B, Range 10ft Road, Lot 9 in Eastern Cemetery as the family plot was full. Carrie died just two months after Emma on June 14, 1947 at the age of 73. She was buried next to Emma. The graves of Emma and Carrie are unmarked. The photo of Carrie is from “Two Centuries of Black Louisville.”

James Leonard Mitchell

James Leonard Mitchell (1895-1969) was born in Hopkins County, KY to Lewis and Lovey (Metcalfe) Mitchell. Lewis and Leonard both worked as coal miners. Enlisting April of 1918, Leonard was a private in the US Army during World War I. In the 1920s, Leonard began playing baseball with the Negro Leagues. There aren’t many records on his career, but he did play for the Louisville Mohawks and the Louisville White Sox. As one of the organizers of the Louisville Black Colonels in 1939, Leonard was an integral part of Negro League baseball at all levels, including promotion. He also owned and managed the Louisville Black Caps and the Original Zulu Cannibal Giants. On May 22, 1948, he married Irene L. Layer (1907-1977), a white woman from Elizabeth, IN. Leonard and Irene were married in Chicago where interracial marriage had been legal since 1874. It would not be legal across the US until 1967. Irene was the daughter of Frederick and Hester (Brock) Layer. Leonard and Irene had one daughter, Delores. In the 1950s and 1960s, Leonard worked as a painter and lived with his family at 1721 Hale Avenue in the California Neighborhood. Leonard died on November 11, 1969. He was buried in Section B, Row C, Grave D of Eastern Cemetery. Irene died on July 27, 1977 and was buried in Section B, Row 4, Grave F of Eastern Cemetery.

So passionate about baseball, Leonard amassed a massive collection of Negro League memorabilia. In 2009, Delores took the collection to the Louisville Slugger Museum for advice. The collection garnered national attention and went to auction. In an interview about the auction Dolores stated, “As a kid, I can remember him being glued to the TV in baseball season. It was like the TV was an extension of his right arm. He loved baseball. He ate, slept, walked, talked, read baseball. In his own quiet way, I think he knew he was part of opening doors that led to other people getting a chance to play.” Photo of older Leonard is from the “Courier-Journal” article March 6, 2009. Photo of Leonard in his Mohawks uniform is from Love of the Game Auctions.

Thank you for your service.

Hermon T. Morehead

Hermon T. Morehead (1905-1969) was born in Russellville, KY to Thomas and Lizzie Morehead. In 1930, he married Georgia E. Page (1910-1996) who was also from Russellville. Georgia was the daughter of George and Bertha (Young) Page. In 1930, they lived with Georgia’s brother David Bibb’s family in Louisville where Hermon was working as a contractor. By 1940, they were renting a house at 1646 W. St. Catherine Street in the California Neighborhood. Hermon was working as a porter in a cafeteria and they had daughter Vivian (born 1931). According to the Hermon’s obituary, he worked at the Colonnade Cafeteria for 32 years. Hermon also worked as the manager and member of one of Louisville’s oldest signing groups, a gospel quintet known as “The Voice of the Deep South.” The group, which celebrated its 30th anniversary in 1969, traveled through Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois and had radio shows on WINN and 104.7 WLOU. In 1969, Hermon was named a “Louisville Ambassador of Good Will” and was presented with a key to the city. Hermon died on July 24, 1969. He was buried in Section 16, Row 8, Grave 9 of Eastern Cemetery. He has a headstone that would have been shared with Georgia as it also has her name. However, Georgia died on November 9, 1996 and was buried in Cave Hill Cemetery. Photo of the quintet is from “Courier-Journal” May 4, 1969.

Iola May (Jordan) Acton

Iola May (Jordan) Acton (1903-1953) was born on February 19, 1903 to W. Clarence and Lenora (Robinson) Jordan in Bardstown. Not much is known about Clarence. By 1910, Nora and Iola were living on 36th Street in Louisville with Nora’s parents. The Census listed Nora as a widow, and she later became a teacher. Iola was the protégé of Miss Caroline Bourgard, renowned music educator. She gave Iola piano lessons as a child and told Iola many times that she had “great plans” for her. Iola completed college and became a music teacher. She was then head of the music department at Kentucky State College. At the time of the 1930 Census, she was living with her aunt Virginia and uncle John Smith at 2502 W. Walnut Street in the Russell Neighborhood. On December 26, 1930, Iola married William L. Harbut in Franklin County, OH. William was a teacher. The couple was living with Virginia and John when tragedy struck in August 1931. William injured his kidney while playing football and died on November 22, 1931 at the age of 23.

Around 1935, Iola was the director of the Bourgard College of Music and Art, the school endowed for African Americans by the late Bourgard. In 1940, Iola married Randall E. Acton. The year 1941 was very busy for Iola. She was training her Jordanaires, a small chorus at the College. Iola was also giving 54 piano lessons a week! Then on April 17, 1941, Iola gave birth to son Iran. Iola continued to play organ for Louisville churches and led multiple choirs, including Quinn Chapel AME Church, Church of our Merciful Savior, Fifth Street Baptist Church, Asbury Chapel, Broadway Temple AME Church, and the Community Choir in Owensboro. According to the 1952 city directory, Randall was the manager of the Sheppard Square Housing Project, and the couple was living at 2 College Court. Iola died from a heart attack on July 27, 1953. She was buried in Section 3AD, Lot 36, Grave 6 of Eastern Cemetery. She shares a headstone with her husband who died in 1987. Headshot of Iola is from “Messenger-Inquirer” August 22, 1943, and photo of her at piano is from “Courier-Journal” April 27, 1941.

Dr. Charles W. Anderson, Sr.

Dr. Charles W. Anderson, Sr. (1865-1931) was born in KY. We could not find much on his parents. Around the age of 13, he was in Louisville working as a bell boy. Charles continued working odd jobs. On October 26, 1886, he married Millie E. Saunders (1864-1894), and together they had two daughters: Ada R. and Florence G. Millie died from tuberculosis in 1894 and was buried in Louisville Cemetery. On March 2, 1897, Charles married Tabitha Lee Murphy (1873-1942), and together they had one son, Charles W. Anderson, Jr. (Please see our biography of him). Around 1910, the family moved to Frankfort where Charles began working as a physician. At this time, he was one of three African American doctors working at the segregated Winnie A. Scott Hospital. He was also a founder of the People’s Pharmacy, which operated in the Odd Fellows Hall in the Bottoms. He was an active member of the Grand Fountain of the United Order of True Reformers, the Knights of Pythias, and the Frankfort Tuberculosis League. Charles died on August 25, 1931. He was buried in Section B, Row 9, Grave 10 of Eastern Cemetery.

Tabitha was a native of MO who moved to Louisville and attended Simmons University and Hampton Institute. She was a teacher and the first State Supervisor of Negro Schools in KY. She was also a cofounder of the Kentucky Federation of Colored Women’s clubs. Tabitha died on March 25, 1942 and was buried in Eastern Cemetery. Ada Anderson married Ernest Diggs, and after his death married James B. Cowherd. Ada died in Dayton, OH where she was living with her daughter Mary Ellen (Diggs) Jones. Florence Anderson married James W. Muir, Jr., a professor, and together they had three children. Florence worked as a teacher and was the first African American to be appointed State Supervisor of Colored Rural Schools in KY. She died on June 16, 1932 and was buried in Eastern Cemetery. She shares a headstone with her parents. The photo of People’s Pharmacy: Charles in middle with Harvey C. Russell left and Dr. E.E. Underwood far right. Photo of Tabitha and Charles Jr. is from Ancestry user hfleming.

Robert Lincoln Anthony, Jr.

Robert Lincoln Anthony, Jr. (1903-1967) was born in Vincennes, IN to Robert Lincoln and Carrie B. (Gaddie) Anthony. He was one of seven children. Robert Sr. was a teacher who we’ve featured before, and Carrie was the daughter of Rev. D.A. Gaddie who we’ve also featured. At the time of the 1920 Census, Robert Jr. was living with his parents on Clay Street in Louisville. He had begun working as a messenger for a print company. On August 13, 1927, he married Mattie Fountain (1908-1972), the daughter of George W. and Katherine “Katie” (Green) Fountain. According to the 1930 Census, Robert and Mattie were living with her parents in their home at 538 Caldwell Street in the Smoketown Neighborhood. George and Robert were both working as janitors. Robert worked in the Heyburn Building for 40 years and held a variety of positions there. On July 8, 1930, Mattie gave birth to their only child Kenneth Ray Anthony. By 1940, the couple was living in their own home at 605 Caldwell Street with Katie Fountain who was widowed.

In 1960, Robert, Mattie, and Kenneth moved to 724 S. 39th Street in the Chickasaw Neighborhood where they remained throughout their lives. Robert died on April 24, 1967 at the age of 63. His obituary mentions that he was a deacon of Green Street Baptist Church, Rev. Gaddie’s former church. He was buried in Cave Hill Corner Eastern Cemetery. Mattie died on October 8, 1972 at the age of 64. Her obituary says she had been a clerk at Brown-Waterhouse-Kaiser, Inc. and organist at Little Flock Baptist Church for 45 years. She was buried with her husband in Cave Hill Corner of Eastern Cemetery. Robert’s parents are also buried in Eastern Cemetery (Section A, Range 29, Lot 11). Mattie’s parents are buried in Louisville Cemetery, and their son Kenneth is buried in Cave Hill Cemetery. The photo of Robert, Mattie, and Kenneth is from Ancestry user leelandj.

Henry Wallace Ray Thurman

Henry Wallace Ray Thurman (1909-1970) was born in Lawrenceburg, KY to William Green and Melissa (Mountjoy) Thurman. He was one of eight children. William was a farmer and Melissa worked as a laundress. Around 1934, Ray moved to Louisville and worked as a laborer for C.L. Jewell & Son, a grain company. Between 1937 and 1940, he married Freda Mae Stallard (1913-1966), the daughter of Joe Hess and Mattie (Hughes) Stallard. Ray enlisted in the US Army for World War II on July 21, 1942. He was a private first class for the 24th Infantry Division. The 24th Infantry Division was among the first US Army divisions to see combat in World War II and among the last to stop fighting. Ray and Freda lived at 2719 Chickasaw Avenue in the Clifton Heights Neighborhood. Freda worked as a maid for families in Louisville, and Ray worked as a laborer for Early and Daniel Feed Store. Freda died on June 23, 1966. She was buried in Section B, Row H, Grave 31 of Eastern Cemetery. Ray died on December 14, 1970. He was buried in Section B, Row F-1, Grave 37 of Eastern Cemetery with a military headstone. Freda’s father and mother are also buried in Eastern Cemetery. The photos of Ray are from Ancestry user gbrowntss. The photo of Freda shows her standing in the middle, rear and is from Ancestry user gbrowntss.

Rev. John T. French

Biography written by Roxie Williams and Rev. Alyce French Johnson of Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church—Religion had always been an important in the life of our founder, the late Rev. John Thomas French. In his hometown of Athens, Alabama, he was a faithful member of the Oak Grove CME Church. Rev. John T. French and his family moved to Louisville in 1937. He and his wife, Mother Lucy Mae French, and their children united with the Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. John T. French served as Sunday School Superintendent and teacher as well as the Chairman of the Deacon Board. In 1940, Rev. French accepted his call into the ministry.

In 1946, Rev. French was called to assist a newly established mission with three faithful believers at 1900 Cedar Street and then 1121 Magazine Street. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the mission was organized into a church with Rev. French being called as the Pastor. The church was named Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church. In 1951, Oak Grove purchased property at 1708 Magazine Street and converted it into a place of worship. After years of being a loving wife and helpmate to Rev. French and his ministry, Mother Lucy Mae French went home to be with the Lord on December 16, 1964. In 1969, Oak Grove purchased property at 41st and Vermont to build a church. In 1978, Rev. John T. French became ill, but because of his love for God and his love of the church, he was given the inspiration and fortitude to continue serving until his death on September 22, 1980.

Rev. Thomas Henry French is the third oldest of 15 children born to Rev. John T. French and Mother Lucy. After the death of his father, the Church called him to pastor on September 13, 1981. Rev. Thomas French served faithfully until August 6, 2017. The legacy of Rev. John T. French lives on with his granddaughter, Rev. Alyce French Johnson, who was installed as Pastor on August 13, 2017.

Rev. French is buried in Section A, Range 7, Lot 16 and Lucy is buried in Section 11, Row 15, Grave 14 of Eastern Cemetery. The photo of the couple is from Find a Grave user Robert M. Lewis Jr.

Henrietta (Beauchamp) Helm

Henrietta (Beauchamp) Helm (ca. 1863-1942) was born enslaved in Spencer County, KY to Milton and Malinda (Whitaker) Beauchamp on the farm of Isaac Costin Beauchamp, a miller. Henrietta was one of at least three children. According to her obituary, Henrietta’s family was freed and moved to Louisville where Beauchamp had “gifted” them a home on Short Street in the Portland Neighborhood. Henrietta lived there almost her entire life. In 1882, Henrietta became a teacher, and she was allowed to continue teaching even after she married due to a shortage of teachers. On August 29, 1890, she married Samuel W. Helm, a postal worker from Eminence, KY. Rev. D.A. Gaddie of Green Street Baptist Church performed the ceremony (He has been featured previously for BHM). Witnesses for their wedding include Julia Gaddie (Rev. Gaddie’s wife), C.H. Parrish (President of Simmons College), and Mary J. Taylor. Unfortunately, Samuel passed away on July 18, 1901 from tuberculosis and was buried in Eminence.

Henrietta taught at a school for African Americans at 29th and Lytle, Eastern Colored School, and Portland Colored Night School on Lytle Street. She was also principal of the night school, which was created for students over the age of 14 who had to work during the day. The school accepted children and adults. Henrietta retired in 1926 when she continued to teach piano lessons in her home. Her obituary noted that she was the only African American, at the time, receiving retirement benefits from a fund created to assist public school teachers. Henrietta died on May 3, 1942. She was buried in Cave Hill Corner, Row 26, Grave 8 of Eastern Cemetery. Her grave is unmarked. Her mother and brother Thomas are also buried in Eastern Cemetery. The photo of Henrietta is from the Portland Museum.

James Riley Ratliff

Detective James Riley Ratliff (1922-1969) was born in Louisville to McKinley and Annis (Neighbors) Ratliff. He was one of four sons. According to the 1930 Census, the family was living at 712 E. Hill Street in the Merriwether Neighborhood. McKinley maintained a long career with the railroad. James’s World War II draft card shows he was working for Chess & Wymond, a cooperage on Avery Street. A stamp across the top of the card reads “5/27/1946 Discharged from Navy.” James married Zoa Lee Ashby, daughter of Frank and Annie (Young) Ashby. Together the couple had a foster son, William G. Anderson, and they lived at 1105 S. 32nd Street in Parkland. In 1946, James joined the Louisville Police Department where he served for 23 years.

According to the US Officer Down Memorials, on December 30, 1969 “Detective James Ratliff and Patrolman Donald Gaskin were shot and killed when they responded to a robbery call at a local grocery store. Two suspects were inside the store when Gaskin arrived at the scene. The suspect ordered the store clerk to open the door, and as Gaskin entered, he was shot by the suspect. Ratliff and his partner arrived just as Gaskin was shot. As the detectives ran for cover, another shot was fired and struck Ratliff. During an ensuing shootout, two other officers and the two suspects were wounded. Gaskin succumbed to his wounds before reaching the hospital. Ratliff succumbed to his injuries later during surgery.” At James’s funeral, Chief C.J. Hyde said, “We knew him as a dedicated and loyal public servant that you could trust. He was a proud but humble man, with an understanding attitude in his associations with fellow officers and general public…We knew him as an officer that could look in the eyes of the most wicked criminal and see something beyond crime.” James was buried in Section 16, Row 15, Grave 7 of Eastern Cemetery. He shares a headstone with Zoa, but in 1999, she was buried in Green Meadows Memorial Cemetery. James’s photo is from Officer Down. Funeral photo is from “Courier-Journal” January 4, 1970.

Thank you for protecting our city and making the ultimate sacrifice.