Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cemeteries Worth A Visit - Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis

At the beginning of each month we’ll take a look at one cemetery that is especially“Worth the Visit.”  This means that it offers something exceptional for the historian, genealogist and tombstone tourist.  It could be outstanding gravestones, interesting cemetery grounds, or just an exciting place to explore!  This month we will take a look at Crown Hill Cemetery, located in Indianapolis, Indiana.  This is a cemetery you could easily spend the day in.

On Top of the Crown
Lucy Ann Seaton

Crown Hill Cemetery was so named because of its location on the highest point in the city. Crown Hill was incorporated on September 25, 1863 and dedicated as a cemetery on June 1st, 1864.  The next day, June 2nd the first burial was held there for Lucy Ann Seaton, a 33 year-old mother who died of consumption - (tuberculosis.)  Her husband John, a Union Captain serving in the Civil War, had inscribed on her stone, “Lucy, God grant that I can meet you in heaven.”  Currently, over 190,000 people rest among its rolling 555 acres, the third largest non-government cemetery in the U.S.

Crown Hill National Cemetery
In the summer of 1866, the U.S. Government purchased 1.4 acres of land within Crown Hill for a National Cemetery.  Over 700 soldiers were interred there by November of that year.  In all, 2,135 soldiers are now buried there, representing every war in which the United States has taken part in up to and including the Viet Nam War.  The last burial was in 1969 for Air Force Major Robert W Hayes.
Confederate Mound

Another military burial ground, the Confederate Mound, is the final resting place of 1,616 Confederate Prisoners of the Civil War.  These southern soldiers died while being detained at Camp Morton from 1862 through 1865.  Most were originally buried at the City Cemetery, but were moved in 1931 by the War Department.

President Benjamin Harrison
Grave of President Harrison
Many notable and notorious people are buried at Crown Hill.  There is one U.S. President, Benjamin Harrison, three Vice Presidents and eleven Indiana Governors.

Grave of James Whitcomb Riley
James Whitcomb Riley
Hoosier Poet James Whitcomb Riley was the first person to be buried on top of the crown in 1917 – 18 months after his death.  From the top, or ‘crown’ of the hill you can see downtown Indianapolis, almost three miles away.

Mausoleum of Colonel Eli Lilly
Other well-known people interred here include Lyman Ayres, founder of L.S. Ayres Department stores.  Colonel Eli Lilly, Civil War Commander and pioneer pharmacist, who founded Eli Lilly Laboratory in Indianapolis.

Dr Richard Gatlin
John Dillinger

 Dr Richard Gatlin, inventor of the Gatlin gun is buried here, along with John Dillinger, the infamous 1930’s bank robber.

Grave of John Dillinger

Community Mausoleum
Gothic Chapel

Crown Hill also has thousands of statues, markers and stories.   There are twenty-five miles of paved road inside the cemetery gates, a community mausoleum, a funeral home and the Gothic Chapel, where weddings and events are held, year round.

The cemetery offers many resources for the family researcher, including an on-staff genealogist.  Information available may include burial permits, names of family members and funeral directors, along with burial plot and section numbers.  Requests may be made by email or phone.  A $5.00 research fee is required per name.

Gates to the Cemetery
Crown Hill Cemetery is located at 700 West 38th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The phone number is (317) 925-8231 for general and genealogical information.  For more information, visit their web page at CrownHill.org. Or check out the Crown Hill Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/crownhill.org

A view of Indianapolis
from the "Crown"
If you plan to spend the weekend in Indianapolis, be sure to plan an afternoon, or better yet, a day at Crown Hill Cemetery.  It is a true Rural Cemetery that offers something for everyone, history, architecture, walking tours and genealogical research, all in a serene and beautiful setting.
~ James Whitcomb Riley

~ Joy

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