Historians investigating if Indian Hill property was site of slave graveyard

INDIAN HILL, Ohio -- Cincinnati historians believe an Indian Hill property may hold a secret buried decades ago.

Experts investigated the Ambleside Estates on Blome Road Tuesday for evidence to support claims a slave gravesite once sat on the surrounding property.

Former managing general partner, president and CEO of the Reds Marge Schott lived at Ambleside, which was built for Leonard Smith in 1928. Schott and her husband Charles bought the home in 1956 and it was split into lots after she died in 2004.

When Schott held pool parties for Reds events, local children would often sneak close to the property to get a glimpse of their favorite players.

Among those children was Kevin Morris.

Morris was back at Ambelside Tuesday with historian Carl Westmoreland and Indian Hill Rangers checking for evidence that slave gravestones had been dug up for new home construction.

Gravestone markers remain for “Mitzi The Pony,” “Rowdy The Little War Horse” and “Klaus The Perfect Gentleman” -- all animals.

But, Morris said he believes something is missing.

"Those are the same markers and they were all where the pony was, but the ones that were missing are the ones (that belong to) humans," he said.

Despite it being years since he’s seen the gravesite, Morris said he vividly recalls what was written on each stone.

"The writings on the markers were names and birth and death dates -- (it said) born and died in slavery," he said.

Even though he didn't see these markers Tuesday, Westmoreland said slaves could have been buried on the property given historic racial attitudes.

"Within the city limits, the only place black people could be buried was in Potter's field," Westmoreland said. "It would coincide with the history of people using the Little Miami River valley corridor coming up through Madisonville, Duck Creek and into Indian Hill."

Experts from the Indian Hill Historical Society said there are no records of a slave graveyard existing on the property.

But Morris said he knows what he saw and isn't wrong.

"My friends that went with us to watch the Big Red Machine swim in the pool…they all know," he said.

Pete Marion, whose company is building a house near the area in question, said he wasn’t aware of slave gravestones being removed.

Despite a lack of evidence, Westmoreland said he's curious enough to continue investigating.

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