Portsmouth students research local history with Friends of Greenlawn


PORTSMOUTH– Students in the Honors English IV class at Portsmouth High School were invited by the Friends of Greenlawn Cemetery to make a presentation on local history at the cemetery on May 11, 2023.

“Walking through the cemetery is an on-site history lesson, so we thought it would be a good opportunity to get the kids outside the classroom and introduced to some of the pioneers who took a leap of faith and came to this little river town,” said Debbie Gambill, president of Friends of Greenlawn.

Amarea McKinley delivered a presentation on Civil War Col. Peter Kinney (1805-1977). Ethan Wallace delivered a presentation on business capitalist Levi York (1847-1920). Caden Scott delivered a presentation on medical pioneer Dr. Jacob Offnere (1776-1859). Dallane Torres delivered a presentation on local veteran and doctor William Kendall (1928-2019). Joclyn Velazquez Flores delivered a presentation on Civil War Sgt. George W. Farley (1849-1940). Kierston Reid delivered a presentation on State Representative Wells A. Hutchins (1818-1895). Reade Pendleton delivered a presentation on 1937 flood victim Bessie Tomlin (1910-1937). English Teacher Leonard Poage delivered a presentation on local politician Silas Cole (1797-1875).

After their presentations, Rev. John Gowdy shared some of the cemetery history with students and led them on a tour of the grounds.

“We’ve been trying to work on making what goes on in the classroom relevant, and also getting some community involvement. So when Friends of Greenlawn came to us with this idea, it fit right into that,” Poage said. “I think a lot of people look at their hometown as if nothing interesting has ever happened here. But here we see examples of things that are very interesting.”

Greenlawn Cemetery in Portsmouth, Ohio, was established in 1829 as Evergreen Cemetery. It was formally changed to Greenlawn in 1874 when the property was transferred to the city of Portsmouth. Nearly 200 years after its opening, the cemetery has grown to more than 40 acres wide and has 85,000 graves. The Friends of Greenlawn is a foundation devoted to the restoration and preservation of the cemetery. The Greenlawn Chapel was recently restored to its original beauty as when it first opened in 1884. The archway entrance was also recently restored. Gambill said the foundation is always looking for volunteers to help maintain and preserve the cemetery and its history.

For more information about Friends of Greenlawn, visit online at https://www.friendsofgreenlawncemeteryfoundation.org. For more information about Portsmouth City Schools, visit them online at www.portsmouthtrojans.net, or follow the school’s page on Facebook.

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