Linden Grove Cemetery, dedicated in 1843, is the largest green space in the inner city of Covington. Located along Holman Street, between 13th and 15th streets in Covington, Kentucky, it was the second public cemetery established within the city limits. The city’s first public cemetery was the Craig Street Burial Ground, which dates to 1815. Craig Street Cemetery closed in 1872, and most of the bodies there were moved to Linden Grove.
Trustees of the nearby Western Baptist Theological Institute which was formed to train Baptist ministers founded Linden Grove Cemetery in 1842, and from the beginning allowed burials without regard to race or religion. The Western Baptist Theological Institute had been formed in 1833 to train Baptist ministers, and at one time its grounds covered several hundred acres. In 1855, the board decided to close the Western Baptist Theological Institute, and the property was sold as lots. A residential community soon developed around the cemetery grounds.
Some accounts say burials at Linden Grove began in 1842, but the Licking Valley Register reported on September 9, 1843, that elaborate plans had been proposed for dedicating “this beautiful spot of ground” on September 11. Plans called for music and talks by ministers and groups from Presbyterian, Episcopal, and Methodist churches in Covington.
The writer described Linden Grove as about “60 acres of high table land, overlooking the city of Cincinnati and situated in the midst of the most quiet and romantic scenery.” The newspaper reporter concluded, “A place like this, in the vicinity of Cincinnati, would be thronged with the admirers of nature and art thus happily combined.” A later account said a large crowd attended the dedication ceremonies.
As early as May 1851, The Covington Journal was cautioning lot owners to get more involved in the operation of the cemetery and warned that indifference was sure to lead to problems. Another Covington Journal account on May 1, 1858, noted that since its opening, Linden Grove had had more than 2,000 burials. Especially heavy years were 1850 and 1851, when cholera swept through the area. Those years there were more than 260 burials, compared to 160 in most other years.
The construction of Highland Cemetery in Ft. Mitchell in 1869 decreased the number of burials at Linden Grove. By the 1920s, the cemetery was in a dilapidated condition. Beginning in 1926, efforts were made to improve and better care for the cemetery. The year 1928 saw the establishment of the Linden Grove Memorial Association. The group was founded to provide funds for the general upkeep of the property. With few burials taking place at Linden Grove, the cemetery was financially unstable. In 1948, the cemetery would be placed in receivership.
By the 1960s, Linden Grove was in deplorable condition. High weeds and vandalism left much of the site in ruin. In 1974, the cemetery received a generous gift from the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The state allocated $25,000 for general maintenance and restoration. About that same time, the City of Covington and the Kenton County Fiscal Court came to an agreement to provide funds for the upkeep of the cemetery.
In the spring of 1998, an independent Linden Grove Cemetery Board was established. Membership on the board included two individuals chosen by the fiscal court, two by the City of Covington and one member at large.
Among those moved to Linden Grove was Thomas Kennedy, one of the founders of Covington. The cemetery’s residents also include three former Northern Kentucky congressmen, including John G. Carlisle, namesake of an elementary school in Covington; William Wright Southgate; John W. Menzies; and William Evans Arthur.
Linden Grove is on the Faith Tour and Historic Tour.