“It’s something we take on as a serious part of our mission.”
Osborn was the village that was physically moved —“roof and rafter” as local historians put it — in the early 1950s in a merger with Fairfield, forming what today is the northwestern Greene County city of Fairborn.
The 445th Airlift Wing’s C-17 Globemasters regularly roar above the cemetery. The wing’s hangars are a short walk away.
Byington said the cemetery is the resting place to some 80 people, but only 45 grave markers are in place. The rest have been lost to floods, weather and the ravages of time.
Motorists passing by on Chambersburg Road may be able to just make out a black fence surrounding the markers and monuments.
“I think there are a lot of folks who have driven by and sort of seen something out here,” Byington said. “They wonder what the fence is. It’s hard to see the monuments from the roadway.”
But those familiar with Fairborn’s history and local genealogy may know something of the cemetery, he said.
The son of enslaved people in Kentucky, Honaker has a humble marker. Not much is known about him. He signed up for military service at the estimated age of 38 near Louisville, Ky., in 1864 as a private. His son, George, enlisted with him. He was honorably discharged, also as a private, in Arkansas two years later.
His service was primarily in Kentucky, Byington said. It is thought that he rode in cavalry raids of Virginia from Kentucky, most prominently against Saltville, Va., a major salt-producing area and a “highly contested Civil War site,” Byington said.
According to the National Park Service, the 5th Colored Cavalry held the captured Confederate works for more than two hours while running low on ammunition before withdrawing at dusk.
Of 400 soldiers engaged in the battle, about 114 enlisted men and several officers were killed or wounded, and the Park Service says “a significant portion” of Black soldiers were killed.
In the U.S. forces’ retreat from Saltville, a number of wounded Federal soldiers were left behind. Black troops left behind were “cruelly slaughtered” by Confederates, according to a Park Service account of the battle.
Honaker’s daughter, Lucy, is buried next to him, and it is thought that his wife, Rachel, is buried with him, although his gravestone does not reflect that.
Byington said Honaker moved north at some point and found employment on the farm of the Cox family, a wealthy family with property in Osborn and Clark County.