Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Cemeteries Worth the Visit – Richmond Cemetery, Richmond, KY

Richmond Cemetery is located in Richmond, Kentucky is the largest cemetery in Madison County.  The city originally had a graveyard located on a knoll near town, but it had reached capacity and another location was needed. Unfortunately the history of this cemetery and the Richmond Cemetery, up to August 1862, were lost when Confederate soldiers broke into the courthouse and stole the original cemetery records during the Civil War.

In January 1848 the Kentucky General Assembly incorporated the Richmond Cemetery.  An additional 18 acres were purchased in the early 1850’s.  The cemetery was dedicated on May 31, 1856.  The next day, June 1st the first burial took place.  The first to be interred was Jane Todd Breck, wife of U.S. Representative Daniel Breck, and aunt to Mary Todd Lincoln.

The cemetery now consists of over 70 acres located in the middle of town.  The rolling hills and winding roads add to the peaceful feel, even though you can hear traffic (and the EKU marching band) throughout the cemetery.  Trees and flowers are prolific throughout the cemetery, giving it a true Rural Cemetery feel.  Stones range from simple to extremely ornate obelisks, statues and sculpture.  There are no mausoleums, but a public vault was added in 1900.

Cassius M. Clay
Clay Memorial
Kentucky governors, and members of Richmond’s prominent families: the Clays, Chenaults and Tribbles are buried here, along with Kentucky abolitionist, Cassius M. Clay.  Clay grew up the son of one of the wealthiest landowners and slaveholders in Kentucky.  Clay became an ardent anti-slave crusader and served three times in the Kentucky House of Representatives. Clay is whom Muhammad Ali was named for.

Depiction of his murder
Captain James Estill
Kentucky frontiersman, Captain James Estill has a memorial that commands attention.  Estill, one of the first Madison County settlers, was killed by Indians in 1782 in the Battle of Little Mountain, near Mount Sterling, Kentucky.  His monument depicts his murder as a Wyandotte Indian prepares to stab him in the chest.  Atop the monument, Estill stands, dressed in a fringed coat, holding his rifle and gazing out over the town.

Civil War Monument
Confederate Monument
In 1862, a portion of the Battle of Richmond was fought in the cemetery with soldiers using tombstones for cover!  The Confederate troops pushed the Union soldiers into the graveyard where they proceeded to defeat them.  Over 240 Union troops are buried here.  Over 175 Confederate soldiers are buried in a mass grave marked with a small stone that says “The Southern Dead.”  A new monument was later erected and dedicated to all Civil War soldiers buried there.
The cemetery also is the burial site to a Revolutionary War captain.

Over 100 gorgeous old monuments and stones were toppled and damaged in April 2010 when vandals broke into the cemetery.  Many were irreplaceable.

The Richmond Cemetery is located on East Main Street in Richmond, Kentucky.  It is open from 8:00 A.M. until 4 P.M.  You may reach them at (859) 623-2529 for information on genealogical research.  The cemetery does not have a web site or Facebook presence.

The Richmond Cemetery is well worth an afternoon, even a day, to explore.  The older part is a treasure trove of statues, monuments and stone bearing interesting and informative symbols and epitaphs.

~ Joy