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Location DB > United States > Ohio > Cincinnati > Abandoned Potter's Field
Abandoned Potter's Field
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 Database Info
created by CaptOrbit on 4/1/2012 12:20 AM
last modified by CaptOrbit on 5/31/2012 12:57 AM
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This location has been labeled by its creator as Public, and therefore can be viewed by anyone.
A 25-acre plot was first set aside in 1849 for the poor, the unwanted, and the unknown, for the cholera victims, and later for the tuberculosis victims, and for those deemed to evil to be buried on consecrated ground, because hey, why not? The bodies of the evil have to go somewhere, right?

That last little fact only adds to the already uncomfortable demeanor of the place.

Although it is part of a public park that doesn't make it easy to access or navigate. There is no parking nearby, There is what remains of an old maintenance road/driveway if you can find it, but it too soon becomes overgrown. The part of the cemetery with the markers is between the old driveway and Guerley Rd. Aside from that section it is difficult to find evidence that you are in a cemetery if you didn't already know. In fact many people who use the driveway entrance completely miss the section with the markers. (It would be on your right as you walk in.)

The cemetery is overgrown with thick underbrush and tangles of vines. It has very poor drainage and is more like a swamp in some areas.

Your line of vision is also severely limited due to both terrain and vegetation so I strongly advise you to bring a compass or better yet some type of GPS device (I used my cellphone). It is very easy to become disoriented in the thick underbrush.

Be aware that if you choose to visit this place you can very easily be lulled into a false sense of security, after all it doesn't really look that large on a map and if you walk far enough in any direction you will pop out on a road, or in a residential neighborhood or even a playground. Yes that is true, but Google doesn't show you the terrain under the trees. Keeping a straight track while navigating around ravines, swamps, and tangles of vines and briars can be difficult even at the best of times. The real danger comes if you find yourself deep inside the cemetery as it is getting dark.

I'm not going to pull any punches here, although I personally find those ghost hunting shows overly dramatic to say the least, the fact that you are walking across the desecrated graves of thousands of people who probably died pretty angry makes the place oppressive and uncomfortable even in bright sunlight.

Now imagine it in the dark, and add how generally difficult the terrain is even in the daylight. What you end up with is the risk of a twisted ankle or a nasty fall in the dense woods, in the dark in an already unpleasant place.

The author of the linked CityBeat article even mentions that during their night visit, "There were times...when I literally had to crawl from place to place."

Be careful.
 Basic Information
Type: Outdoors
Status: Abandoned
Accessibility: Moderate
Recommendation: check it out if you're nearby
 Physical Information
Guerley Rd (The location Google maps gives is wrong. The Jewish cemetery it marks is neither public nor abandoned. The thumbtack I have placed is correct.
Cincinnati, Ohio
United States
Owner: City of Cincinnati (Cincinnati Recreation Commission)
  • See a map of this location
  •  Hazards
  • Thick underbrush, hilly terrain, poor drainage
  •  Interesting Features
    Some 11,000 (1,000 more than the signs indicate) people lay buried in this forgotten stretch of woods, Some have markers, most do not.

    Many Civil War veterans are buried in Potter’s Field. Men who left home to fight in the Civil War and came back wounded or otherwise unable to work or make a living for themselves, and unable to fit back into the life they left before going off to war, often died penniless and were buried as indigents.

    As if it wasn't sad enough already.

     Security Measures
  • Public Park, but there is more to the story. See description
  •  Historical Dates
    Built: 1849
    Closed: 1981
     Required Equipment
  • long pants / sleeves
  • towelettes
  • Boots, if it has rained recently and a compass or better yet some type of GPS device (I used my cellphone). It is very easy to become disoriented in the thick underbrush.
  •  Recommended Equipment
    Something to cut through the underbrush, I recommend a hand pruner because if you use anything else (machete) and the police see you with it...don't expect them to be happy.
    From the Cincinnati parks department,

    "This 25 acre cemetery is the former burial site for Hamilton County's poor, unwanted, and unknown.

    Established in 1849 and operated until 1981. between 8,500 and 11,000 people are laid to rest here. Most of the graves are unmarked but some have metal plates or wooden stakes marking the burial site. A veteran's section was set aside and many Civil War soldiers are believed to be buried here. Records of known graves were recorded in a book kept by the County Department of Human Resources.

    There are no written records of burials before 1898. The Branch Hospital for Contagious Diseases, locally referred to as the "Pest House" controlled the cemetery from 1879 to 1912.(Later it would be known as Dunham Tuberculosis Hospital which was closed in the mid '70's) This hospital was located at the site of what is now the Dunham Recreation Center. Persons who died at the "Pest House" were buried here as quickly as possible, foregoing customary funeral services. The Hamilton County Welfare Department eventually took over operations of the cemetery after the hospital closed.

    [Note] Dunham Hospital was a massive facility with a huge twelve story main building and dozens of outbuildings connected by a network of underground tunnels. All but a few outbuildings were demolished at the end of the 1970's. Another remaining outbuilding, the nurses dormitory was demolished a few years ago.

    In order to preserve and protect the many graves, known and unknown, and the growth that has occurred over the passing years, Potter's Field is now being maintained in a natural state."

    For years the city and the county fought over who owned the cemetery with neither one wanting to take responsibility. By the time the city relented and admitted ownership the cemetery had already started to become overgrown and city administrators decided the cost to taxpayers of continuing to maintain the cemetery was too high, and they let wilderness takes its course.

     Media Coverage
    An excerpt from CityBeat,
    "This cemetery is quite haunted. People will hear strange voices and sobbing coming from the grounds at night. When people walk through during the day or night, they feel that they are being followed or watched. Sometimes people will actually see ghostly figures, which vanish when they are approached.

    Perhaps the spirits of all those unfortunate souls who are buried here are upset about the shabby condition of the cemetery or about having been buried in a potter’s field. The ghosts here always seem to give off an angry and menacing vibe."

    The rest of the article along with some pretty practical advice to any potential visitors can be found here-


    A good article.

    The Cincinnati Post

    August 13, 1999

    Forgotten lives, bound in old books
    Potter's Field hints at secrets in records

    Author: Andrew Conte


     Future Plans
    In order to preserve and protect the many graves, known and unknown, and the growth that has occurred over the passing years, Potter's Field is now being maintained in a natural state.

    The monument to their deaths will remain as ignored as their lives.

    Add your own story
     Photo Galleries
    Click to view gallery
    Potter's Field
    Sun, Apr 1st, 2012
    posted by CaptOrbit
    19 pictures
    Click to view gallery
    Potter's Field 2- It doesn't get any better from here.
    Sun, Apr 1st, 2012
    posted by CaptOrbit
    17 pictures

    Add your own photos

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     Web Links
    A ghost investigation of the cemetery.


    Two similar but not the same articles from the same author.



    Some notes and photos from a way-marking site.


    Edit this Location
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    The moderator rating is a neutral rating of the content quality, photography, and coolness of this location.

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    This location's validation is current. It was last validated by Opheliaism on 5/31/2012 3:26 PM.

     Latest Changes
  • on May 31 12 at 15:26, Opheliaism validated this location
  • on May 31 12 at 0:57, CaptOrbit changed the following: Display Name
  • on Apr 8 12 at 3:42, Opheliaism validated this location
  • on Apr 7 12 at 23:19, CaptOrbit changed the following: Description
  • on Apr 7 12 at 3:59, Opheliaism validated this location
  • on Apr 6 12 at 21:53, CaptOrbit made this location public
  • on Apr 6 12 at 21:53, CaptOrbit updated the main picture
  • on Apr 6 12 at 21:52, CaptOrbit updated the main picture
  • on Apr 2 12 at 12:36, Opheliaism validated this location
  • on Apr 2 12 at 1:16, CaptOrbit changed the following: Description
  •  Forum Threads about this Location
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    You must log in for this feature to work.Potter's Fieldfigman68144812/20/2013 9:22 AM by CaptOrbit
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