Monday, April 08, 2019

African-American Graveyard Buried Under Upper Arlington High School

An African-American graveyard was established by a freed slave and blacksmith named Pleasant Litchford on the site where Upper Arlington High School currently stands. While some of the graves were moved when the school was built in 1955, it is unclear whether all of the graves were properly relocated.

From WOSU:

Upper Arlington School District will study whether remains may still lie beneath the high school’s campus. Superintendent Paul Imhoff said they are working with an archaeologist and plan to conduct a scan of the area to identify any graves that may not have already been cleared.

Construction of the first high school revealed the cemetery in 1955. The district moved remains they found, but it built a parking lot and possibly part of the building over the area.

Upper Arlington resident Mike Renz has encouraged the city and school district to further explore the cemetery, and he said construction of the current high school above the cemetery illustrated the community’s segregation at that time.

“You don’t handle human remains in such a casual way,” Renz said. “You don’t build buildings or parking lots over graves no matter who they belong to.”

Now, the district wants to address its previous mistakes and respectfully manage the cemetery as it tears down the old high school, Imhoff said.

“This is not a proud part of our history, but it is a part of our history, and we feel strongly that we are not going to hide from that. We’re not going to pretend like it didn’t happen,” Imhoff said. “We’re still in the process of determining what (the right thing) is, but we’re certainly dedicated to doing the right thing and honoring these people whose final resting place was on that site.”

In addition to searching for more remains, Imhoff says he expects some kind of memorial to be placed on the cemetery’s site.

Pleasant Litchford, a freed slave who came to Columbus from Virginia in 1828, established the cemetery in the 1800s. As a blacksmith, he started buying land in what is now Upper Arlington, and founded the cemetery for his family and other African-Americans who were excluded from white cemeteries.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Goodbye, Dad


William Gosnell 1931-2019



GOSNELL William Francis Gosnell, 87, of Upper Arlington, passed away at home Sunday, January 20, 2019, after a long illness. He was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Francis and Katherine Gosnell and his sister, Mariana Gosnell. He is survived by his wife, Norma L. Gosnell, son, Scott Gosnell, sister, Molly Rudy, sister-in-law Irma Pinkerton and brothers-in-law Bill (Gayle) and Jack (Sophie) Hall. He was a devoted uncle to his nephews and nieces, Doug, Steve, and Kathy; Jimmy, Tommy, Shirley, Silvia, Kelly, Karen, Steve, Cathy, Danielle and Kim; their spouses and partners; and a great-uncle to his many grand nephews and nieces.

William was a 1949 graduate of Upper Arlington High School. He went on to receive both his Bachelors and Masters of Arts from the Ohio State University. He served two years in the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War before resuming his studies. Following college, he taught History, Government, Psychology and Sociology for forty-two years at Northland High School, and was awarded Teacher of the Year in 1993. He was constantly amazed and delighted to see his students grow and develop as people.

William met his wife Norma when both became members of the recently opened Swim and Racquet Tennis Club; they would go on to become club champions in mixed doubles, to remain lifelong partners in tennis and in life, to celebrate the birth of their son, Scott, and to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary. He described himself as “a good egg, slightly cracked,” but will be remembered for his kindness, interest in everyone he met, capacity to generate a lecture on any topic at any length at the drop of a hat, boundless curiosity and thirst for knowledge, and his belief in treating everyone among us with dignity and justice. His favorite advice was from the movie Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “Be excellent to each other.”

He was a sixty-eight-year member of First Community Church in Marble Cliff, where the memorial service will be held on January 30, 2019 at 11AM, despite his previously stated preference for “a traditional Viking funeral with burning ship and so forth,” “to be set adrift on an ice floe,” or “to be shot bodily into orbit from a large cannon.” We will miss him terribly.

Service will be held in Burkhart Chapel at the South Campus of First Community Church, 1320 Cambridge Ave. 43212, at 11AM, January 30, 2019. In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to the educational charity of your choice.