ST. STEPHEN CEMETERY
1523 Alexandria Pike
Fort Thomas, KY 41075
Bella Morte rating: 1 Tombstone
Dedicated on 20 May, 1860, St. Stephen’s served as the Parish cemetery for its primarily German Catholic membership until the purchase of additional acreage made the cemetery desirable to members of other Catholic congregations. Today, it is the largest Catholic Cemetery in Campbell County, Kentucky.
Saint Stephen’s is not exceptional in regard to its offering of tombstones, sculpture or statuary. We did, however, enjoy our drive along the allée of pine trees that line the roadway near the front of the grounds. On the day we visited, their branches softened the brightness of the sun and dappled the roadway with lovely splashes of subdued light.
Toward the back of the property, the landscaping takes a decided turn for the worse with little to offer in the way of shade trees or other significant greenery. Near the property’s rear border, a chapel and mausoleum complex stands on the site of the former stone chapel. Sadly, the chapel, constructed in 1908, was demolished in 2001 to make way for the newer structure. While times must change and contemporary needs be served, the loathsome uniformity of newer construction, with its lack of attention to detail and nuance, makes the distress of losing little bits of architectural history here and there even more painful.
A look into the past proves the history of Saint Stephen’s Cemetery to be as unremarkable as the grounds save for two notable exceptions.
Turning back the clock to October, 1977 most cemetery visitors would have been surprised to hear the roar of motorcycle engines break the silence as Saint Stephen’s played host to nearly 500 motorcyclists from Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. All were present for the funeral of their slain comrade, Robert E. “Moose” Holsten, President of the Kentucky Chapter of the Iron Horsemen Motorcycle Club. On the day of their visit, the mourners, in keeping with the uncommon committal rituals often associated with fallen cyclists, certainly brought a different air to the usually serene and tranquil grounds.
Stepping back considerably further in time we next highlight an incident which roused considerable interest in the summer of 1919. Newspaper articles from the time recount how, on an otherwise peaceful night in July, the newly inhumed body of a 15-year-old girl was disinterred by a person or persons unknown. Although the body was returned to its tomb otherwise inviolate, the left arm was somehow broken during the crime and a lily placed in the casket was missing. Detectives explored leads concerning a “woman in black” seen at St. Stephen’s the night the offense took place. They also received information that a woman who had visited a soothsayer was told a deformity she suffered from could be cured by rubbing the area with clothing taken from a corpse. In the end, they pursued leads suggesting that animosity between a gravedigger and the graveyard’s sexton could have been behind the ghoulish deed. The man accused of the crime was eventually acquitted and the case was never solved.
As for the young lady whose rest was so sadly violated, she was reinterred beneath a bed of cement shortly after the crime took place.