26 May 2008 by Published in: General musings 14 comments

Next week, I will have lived in Columbus for 21 years. There’s a large Victorian cemetery on the west side of town called Greenlawn Cemetery, which describes itself as “a very special park.” Until today, I had never been to Greenlawn. Since it was Memorial Day today, Susan and I decided to pay it a visit in an effort to pay tribute to some of the many military veterans who rest there. It will remind visitors of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, or Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati–as much Victorian destination as cemetery.

We didn’t get a formal tour, although there were formal tours being offered. That means we missed a lot. Among the interesting graves we missed were Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker’s, a Buffalo Soldier who was awarded the Medal of Honor during the Indian wars, and a soldier who was awarded the Medal of Honor for carrying water to the Reno/Benteen battalion at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Samuel P. Bush, the grandfather of Pres. George H. W. Bush and the great-grandfather of Pres. George W. Bush, is buried there, as are the grandparents of Pres. Woodrow Wilson. I’m going to have to go back, probably sooner than later, to see the rest of these interesting grave sites.


This is the grave of Gov. William N. Dennison, Ohio’s first Civil War-era governor. His son, Lt. William N. Dennison, a talented horse artillerist who served with the Army of the Potomac’s Cavalry Corps, is buried a few feet away.


This is the grave of Lt. Oscar Kelton of the 95th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The Kelton family was prominent in Nineteenth Century Columbus; the family home, which was a stop on the Underground Railroad, is a museum today. Lt. Kelton was KIA during Sherman’s Meridian Campaign in 1864. He was only 21 years old.


This is the grave of Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell’s father, who was a War of 1812 veteran.


This is the grave of Jacob Haering, a Civil War veteran. I thought it was an extremely interesting monument, which is why I shot it. Note the GAR medal portrayed on the monument.


There are two sections of Civil War veterans. One of them includes a number of unknowns, as well as a number of United States Colored Troops, whose graves are interspersed among the the graves of the white soldiers who served alongside them. This is the grave of Pvt. Andy Grey, who served in the 15th U. S. Colored Infantry.

Unknown Soldier

One of a number of unknown Union soldiers buried in the larger section.

Brothers in arms, if not in service.

Brothers in arms, if not in service. Private Compton probably died at the Confederate prisoner of war prison site at Camp Chase.

O W Smith

This is the grave of Ovid Wellford Smith, one of the Andrews Raiders, of Great Locomotive Chase fame. Like most of the raiders, Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor for his valor. His grave is the only one in the entire cemetery to have its own state historical marker.


This is the grave of another Medal of Honor winner, Bvt. Maj. Gen. Frederick Phisterer. He was awarded the MOH as a First Lieutenant in the 18th U.S. Infantry for action on December 31, 1862 at Stone River, Tennessee. His citation reads “Voluntarily conveyed, under a heavy fire, information to the comander of a battalion of regular troops by which the battalion was saved from capture or annihilation.”

This is the grave marker of a young Union soldier who died of disease at Fortress Monroe in early 1864. The marker depicts a saber, the U.S. flag, an eagle on top, and a detail at the bottom showing a cannon tube, several rifles with bayonets, and several cavalry sabers. It’s without doubt one of the most interesting Civil War grave markers I’ve ever seen. And it belongs to a common soldier, which makes it even more interesting.


Thanks to Susan Forsyth for passing this one along. This is the grave of Brig. Gen. James William “Tony” Forsyth, Philip H. Sheridan’s chief of staff, who commanded the U. S. troops at the Wounded Knee episode in 1890. Forsyth was married to one of Governor Dennison’s daughters.

To all of our veterans, past, present, and future, thank you for your sacrifices in giving us the country that we enjoy today, and a special thank you to SSgt. Morton L. Wittenberg, 14th Air Force, who served in North Africa and Italy during World War II, and who shuffled off this mortal coil much too soon in December 1980.

Scridb filter


  1. Mon 26th May 2008 at 9:34 pm

    Is that Irvin’s brother John McDowell, discussed here: http://bullrunnings.wordpress.com/2007/08/01/the-mcdowell-monument/ ?

  2. Mon 26th May 2008 at 9:42 pm


    No. This grave belonged to a War of 1812 vet. I believe it to have been the grave of Irvin’s father.


  3. Mon 26th May 2008 at 11:03 pm

    OK – I wrote my comment before you had completed your text. Irvin’s (and John’s) old man served a year as mayor of Columbus, by the way.

  4. Tue 27th May 2008 at 1:59 am

    Eicher & Eicher list these Civil War notables for Green Lawn Cemetery in “Civil War High Commands”:

    Comly, James Monroe Stuart, 26 July 1887
    Dennison, William, 15 June 1882
    Forsyth, James William, 24 Oct. 1906
    Hamilton, William Douglas, 22 Jan. 1916
    Jones, Theodore, 13 Mar. 1916
    McMillen, William Linn, 8 Feb. 1902
    • Medary, Samuel, 7 Nov. 1864
    Mitchell, John Grant, 7 Nov. 1894
    Pease, Phineas, 8 Oct. 1893
    Potter, Joseph Hayden, 1 Dec. 1892
    Powell, Eugene, 17 Mar. 1907
    Smith, Orland, 4 Oct. 1903
    Walcutt, Charles Carroll, 2 May 1898
    Wilcox, James Andrews, 26 Sept. 1891
    Wilson, William Tecumseh, 5 June 1905
    Zeigler, George Milton, 7 June 1912

  5. tomrod
    Tue 27th May 2008 at 9:34 am

    I’ve lived in the Columbus area for almost 7 yrs and i’ve never been to Greenlawn either. I want to check it out now, thanks! Speaking of the Kelton House did you know that it is the sister house of the Mercer House in Savannah, GA? (of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil fame) They are both neat homes.

  6. Keith Toney
    Tue 27th May 2008 at 10:30 am

    Many thanks for the pix and this post. Definitely have to put it on the to do list next time I’m in the Columbus area.

  7. Tue 27th May 2008 at 5:36 pm


    Good stuff, thanks for sharing that. Next time, I will have to track down Orland Smith’s grave. He was a brigade commander in the 11th Corps at Gettysburg.


  8. Tue 27th May 2008 at 5:36 pm


    No, I didn’t–thanks for telling me that.


  9. Tue 27th May 2008 at 5:37 pm


    C’mon up. I will be happy to give you a tour.


  10. Todd Berkoff
    Tue 27th May 2008 at 9:02 pm

    James William Forsyth (not William, unless I missed an inside joke) was on Sheridan’s staff during the CW and later commanded the 7th US Cavalry during the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890.

    Orland Smith (1825-1903) was colonel of the 73rd Ohio Infantry at McDowell, Cross Keys, and Second Bull Run. Smith commanded a brigade in the 11th Corps at Gettysburg and later in Tennessee. He managed railroads from Baltimore after the war.

    Todd Berkoff

  11. Todd Berkoff
    Tue 27th May 2008 at 9:10 pm

    Also, William Dennison (1815-1882) was the governor of Ohio from 1860-1862 and US Postmaster General. Dennison’s son William Neil Dennison (1841-1904) was a much-photographed horse artillery officer in the Army of the Potomac. Dennison served in Battery A, 2nd US Artillery under John Tidball and is in the famous photograph of Tidball and another officer leaning on the 3-inch Ordinance rifle during the Peninsula Campaign — both father and son are buried in Greenlawn. http://www.blongerbros.com/graftersClub/bios/Dennison.asp

    Todd Berkoff

  12. JAMES mccorry
    Wed 28th May 2008 at 2:45 pm

    Can you put me in touch with Susan Forsyth by e-mail address. I havce been doing research on General Forsyth and if she is related she may have interest. Also Tonys wife Elizabeth was the daughter of the governor of Ohio. Her maiden name was Dennison. A great post. Thanks Eric

  13. Melissa Cyders
    Fri 06th Jun 2008 at 10:51 pm

    I would like to be in touch with James McCorry; Forsyth was my Great-great-grandfather and I am in touch with several historians interested in his life. Susan Forsyth is a distant relative, an historian in the UK interested in Forsyth. She toured the Cemetery last year while doihg research in the U.S.. I can help you reach other historians in U.S. with interest, and I would like to learn from you, as well.

  14. butch
    Mon 29th Aug 2011 at 11:29 am

    i’ve been collecting 95th o.v.i. info for years and have been to a majority of their battle sites etc. if anyone wants to share info i will be delighted to share mine.
    my ancestor is pvt. dan’l timmons of co. b. greenlawn
    has one of the greatest monuments on site, worthy of any battlefield, bvt maj gen mcmillen and several graves of men from the 95th ohio.and of course eddie
    richenbacher,ww1 flying ace. more history in that cemetery than on some historic sites and battlefields

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