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Beech Grove Cemetery cleanup helps man find parents' unmarked graves

Posted at 4:35 PM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-15 08:40:24-05

SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP (HAMILTON COUNTY), Ohio -- Gordon Holcomb used to walk Beech Grove Cemetery row by row, searching for his parents' names on headstones.

The 81-year-old knew that his parents had been buried at Beech Grove, but he didn't know where in the cemetery. Over the years, the cemetery became neglected. There were potholes, sunken graves and lost paperwork.

A 9 On Your Side reporter walked with Holcomb in September. After that story aired, Holcomb received a call. Springfield Township had spent months remapping the cemetery's graves and they thought they finally had a match.

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Springfield Township inherited the cemetery, and officials said they were determined to make things right. They've been working to fill the potholes, fix headstones and map graves.

Finding Holcomb's parents took more than a dozen hours using GPS equipment, Holcomb's memory and whatever documents they could find.

Township Trustee Gwen McFarlin brought Holcomb to his family's graves for the first time. It turned out that they hadn't bought tombstones, so the township marked the graves with poles.

"It's a feeling," Holcomb said, standing by his parents' graves for the first time. "It's just a nostalgic feeling."

Springfield Township expects to have the full cemetery mapped out, including unmarked graves, within a month.

"Just knowing about your roots, that is just so critical and so important," McFarlin said.