Hangin’ with the Ancestors – Gettin’ My 52 on in Spring Grove Village

* This is the thirtieth in a series of walking Cincinnati’s 52 neighborhoods to find what makes each relevant to me. Follow me on Instagram for a hint of where I’ll venture next.

My father would have loved Spring Grove Village. He lived for driving around to seek out plant and flower nurseries. On Sundays, he was sent forth by Mom to find just the right shade salmon in geraniums. On my walk around Spring Grove Village, I discovered a stretch of three greenhouses, each a reminder of my father.

But before I reached that row, I had to pass through the cemetery. That one. The famous one. Spring Grove Cemetery. Where every goes to be buried. Or, at least, every one did.

Two years ago, I purchased a Segway tour through Spring Grove Cemetery for Mark on Father’s Day.  After many minutes of stops and starts and turns (I truly thought they would kick me off the tour), we were wheeling past the graves of Krogers and Schmidlapps and Corbetts. A veritable Who’s Who in last century. As we whizzed down a short hill, I suddenly pulled off to the side, despite being coached not to.

And there, in plain sight, were the headstones for the Mueller family. Our Mueller family. The one who had built our home at 1419 Race Street and occupied it in various forms over the next 40 years.

If a person was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery, one can easily research the name to find the location. That evening, following our ride, I went home to do just that. I discovered Vater Mueller died of a “paralytic stroke”. Mutter Mueller, “fattening of the heart”. Of their six children, four were buried at Spring Grove. Oscar died of a “homicide-gunshot”. Charles, Jr., “suicide gun shot”, Alma, “suicide. William, “St. Vitus Dance” or “chorea” – a disorder characterized by jerky movements.

I had no need to read more about the Muellers. I had learned enough.

I cut through to the back or north gate of the cemetery which led onto Gray Road, and walked along a very sketchy sidewalk, more a worn-path, leading to three greenhouses, A.J. Rahn, Osterbrock and Funke’s.

Since the late 1800’s, the area had been known as Wooden Shoe Hollow and was home to 19 family-run operations which produced vegetables sold at local markets.

I turned back around and crossed over Winton Road. The Winton Place Public School building was now Winton Preparatory Academy, a public charter school. (Readers can learn more about the public schools in Hamilton County that were closed and sold).

IMG_1890I had read that churches of 15 denominations were located within Spring Grove Village. I found four, but I hadn’t tried too hard. The corner at Epworth also included Harmony Lodge, available for rent, which once operated as the town hall.

The actual village area was a quiet, residential quarter section of the neighborhood. There had been more traffic running through the cemetery than through the neighborhood. But the community sprouted a civic garden space, a recreation center and a pool.

Later, I found myself walking along a more industrial quarter as well, until I approached the intersection of Spring Grove Avenue and Mitchell. On the northwest corner, at the intersection of Superior Honda, a horse racing and amusement park, Chester Park, once existed.

Spring Grove Village was formerly known as Mill Creek Township and Spring Grove, as well as Winton Terrace. Several homes were designed by Samuel Hannaford though I hadn’t researched well enough in advance to find them.

Taft Ale House is developing a new tap room nearby, and Salway Park (part of the Cincinnati Recreation Center), across from the Spring Grove entrance, supports the Mill Creek Greenway bike trail which one can take all the way back to the river, while also stopping at the Old Timber Inn for “fish rolls and rubens”.

Spring Grove has benefitted from the greenway and its proximity to the burgeoning Northside neighborhood.

With access to a large Kroger’s and the highway (though there is the Brent Spence backup), its an easily approachable area where I can occasionally bike ride, find a muse for my morning finds or commune with the ancestors to see what kind of progress Cincinnati has actually made.IMG_1903

The week after I walked Spring Grove, I noticed the color in my potted plants had waned. Instead of following my usual path towards a garden center near my mother’s home, I went back to Spring Grove and bought plants from all three nurseries. I had my “52” walks and my father to credit, for opening my mind to color and logging the mileage to do so.






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