FRANKFORT, Ky. (FOX 56) – Green Hill Cemetery, a historic Frankfort cemetery, dating back to 1865, honors Black troops who fought in the American Civil War.
Now, the resting place for those brave men needs a lot of maintenance.
Fixing headstones and cutting grass cost money and it’s getting funds from an unlikely partner, a bourbon company.
The story begins in Frankfort at Buffalo Trace Distillery. Proceeds from the sale of Freddie’s soda, named after a well-known distillery tour guide Freddie Johnson, end up in a graveyard. Why you might ask?
“It’s kind of a cool story,” said Johnson.
The historic cemetery is just a five minute drive from the distillery. A place that’s special to Freddie.
“My family is buried up here going back to the 1800s,” Johnson said. “You can look out and see places where there are sunken spaces all around us, well, those are bodies.”
Unmarked graves, some go back to 1865.
One resting place honors 141 African American men who fought for the Union in the Civil War. Some of those men are marked as a divot in the ground.
Battling overgrown vegetation and uncovering artifacts, Johnson is trying to revive a place for the dead.
“At its worse, the wall on the outside had come down,” Johnson said. “Part of the cemetery was actually going to be washed out into the street.”
So, Buffalo Trace donated some of the proceeds it made off selling Freddie’s soda to help maintain this sacred area.
Jeanette Walker is the chairperson at Green hill Cemetery. Her father is buried there and his headstone is sinking.
“It’s just a blessing to repair the old headstones,” Walker said.
The money will help maintain the site and uncover other headstones.
“There’s always someone’s loved one here from Midway to Versailles to Lexington,” Walker said. “Mark my word, they have a loved one here from down in time.”
Money will also be used for drone fly overs to graph and grid where all the burial sites are located.