Showing posts with label Kentucky. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kentucky. Show all posts

Friday, October 27, 2017

Eastern Cemetery – Haunted by the Past

Gateway to Eastern Cemetery
From the moment you arrive, you can feel that things are a bit off kilter. Of course, the look of the place does nothing to dispel this thought.
Welcome to Eastern Cemetery, 28-acres located next to the famous and well-groomed Cave Hill Cemetery where Colonel Sanders and Muhammad Ali are laid to rest. But across the concertina wire, Eastern Cemetery lies in tatters, abused by the elements, and vandals, for over thirty years.

The Wake House
Eastern Cemetery was founded in the 1844 by two Methodist churches. At that time, it was known as The Methodist Cemetery and was one of the earliest burial grounds in the city to allow people of different races and religions to be interred together. The cemetery is home to some of the movers and shakers of early Louisville along with regular citizens. This includes state officials, mayors, soldiers, slaves, and musicians. Charles Clarke and Arthur Lommis designed the original Richardsonian Romanesque wake house in 1891. And Eastern was also the first cemetery in Kentucky to have a crematorium. 

But Eastern Cemetery has a decidedly dark past. Records from as early as the late 1850s indicate that bodies were being buried in graves already occupied. The New York Times did an article on the cemetery back in 1989 describing how the graves were being resold after the remains and headstones had been removed – at least most of the time. There were also indications that bodies were stacked on top of one another – some buried only a foot or so deep – in order to maximize that burial space, and make more money. In a cemetery with room for 16,000 burials, experts estimated close to 50,000 people have been “laid to rest” here.

Records shows that of the four grave maps made of the cemetery, covering the years 1880, 1907, 1962 and 1984 – all are inconsistent in grave placement from time period to time period. Sections have been redivided and renamed, all in keeping with the reburial of bodies.

 About ten years ago, an unlocked building was discovered to contain dozens of cremated remains And state investigators reported that more than 90% of infant burials were done in a foot or less of soil.
Today, the graveyard is a tangle of weeds, downed trees and toppled stones. Vandalism is apparent but not as rampant as might be expected. Maybe the negative vibe of the place is off-putting even to those miscreants. 

When you enter the cemetery, the air is oppressive and you feel watched from every corner. This is not a cemetery that encourages wandering, or even loitering. This is an in-and-out cemetery: in for photos and out as fast as possible. Rumor has it that a nineteenth century lady wanders the cemetery trying to care for the infants graves. Footsteps and voices can be heard, and ghostly figures have been seen in the chapel, and wandering the grounds. But knowing the story, is it any wonder that this City of the Dead is restless?

Today, a non-profit organization made up of a caring group of volunteers are working to take back the cemetery. Friends of Eastern Cemetery do what they can to keep the cemetery grass cut, downed trees cut up, and stones repaired. But it seems to be a never-ending job. If you’d like to volunteer, visit their web page for more information.
~ Joy

My new book The Family Tree Cemetery Field Guide is now available at bookstores across the country. Click here for book information.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Daniel Boone – Folk Hero, Frontiersman and Explorer

Fess Parker as Daniel Boone

Daniel Boone
Most of us have heard the story of Daniel Boone, the pioneer and frontiersman who helped blaze a trail into America’s early frontier. Or maybe we remember the TV show “Daniel Boone,” which ran from 1964 to 1970 – not exactly a lesson in history, but it did have a catchy intro song …

Daniel Boone was born on November 2, 1734 the sixth of eleven children that Squire and Sarah (Morgan) Boone would have. The Boones were Quakers and lived in the Oley Valley, near what is now Reading, Pennsylvania. Daniel grew up learning to hunt with the Lenape Indians who lived nearby.

Boone had very little formal education but could read and write, and enjoyed reading Gulliver’s Travels to his hunting buddies around a campfire.

French and Indian War
Daniel volunteered for the French and Indian War in 1755 and served under Captain Hugh Waddell as a wagoner in North Carolina. While serving, Boone met John Findley who told him stories about the abundance of game and beautiful settings of the Ohio Valley. Boone’s interest was peaked but it took 12 years before he would make that hunting trip into Kentucky.

Mrs. Boone
In August 1756, Boone married Rebecca Bryan and settled down in North Carolina saying he now had all he needed, "a good gun, a good horse, and a good wife."  Over the years, they had a total of ten children. Boone supported his large family by hunting and trapping, leaving every autumn on long hunts that could last for months.
Squire Boone

Daniel again served in the military during the “Cherokee Uprising” in 1758, moving his family to safety in Virginia until the conflict was over. In 1767, Boone reached Kentucky with his brother, Squire. While there he ran into his old friend, John Findley who convinced him to take a long hunting expedition through Kentucky.

Through the Cumberland Gap
Boone left in 1769 to clear a trail through the Cumberland Gap; he was gone for two years. When he returned, he packed up his family and moved with another 20 or so families along the Wilderness Road and into Kentucky. Boone led the pioneers to a spot along the Kentucky River and named it Boonesborough.

The American Revolution
With the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War, the Indians saw a chance to drive the colonists out of Kentucky. By 1776 less than 200 people remained in the area. Those that did were staying in the fortified settlements of Boonesborough, Harrodsburg, and Logan’s Station.

Rescuing Jemima
Then on July 14, 1776 Boone’s daughter, Jemima and two other local girls were captured by a Cherokee and Shawnee war party. Boone and a group of local men were able to get the girls back two days after the ambush. (A fictionalized version of the story was written and entitled Last of the Mohicans in 1826.)
Boone Taken Captive

Two years later, Boone was captured by the Shawnee Indians. He eventually escaped and returned to Boonesborough to help defend it against Indiana raiders. He then left to purchase land for the settlers but was robbed of the monies. He was forced to repay all of the settlers and was never able to escape from the lawsuits and debt.

Daniel Boone
Boone was elected to several government offices including sheriff, lieutenant colonel, and as a legislative delegate. But Kentucky had lost its appeal and Boone moved his family to Upper Louisiana; what is now Missouri, in 1799.
Hunting in Missouri
Spain owned this part of the country and Boone was treated well by the Spanish government, receiving a large land grant and a leadership title. Boone was happy with his life until the U.S. took over the land and denied his claim to the land. It wasn’t until 1814 that Congress restored a part of his landholdings to him.

Nathan's Home
Rebecca Boone died in 1813 and Boone moved near St Charles, Missouri to live with his son, Nathan.  Daniel Boone died in Defiance on September 26, 1820. He was 85 years old.

Daniel Boone was buried next to his wife in an unmarked grave in Marthasville, Missouri. The graves were marked with stones sometime in the mid-1830s. But in 1845, Boone’s remains, along with Rebecca’s, were disinterred and moved to the new cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky, the state’s capital. But were they? Controversy has existed over this for almost 170 years.

The Missouri Stone
The folks in Missouri claimed that Daniel Boone’s grave stone was actually placed over the wrong grave but no one had done any thing about it. When the Kentuckians arrived, they took the wrong remains back with them.

Carving on Kentucky Stone
Kentucky Monument
In 1983, a forensic anthropologist examined the plaster cast that had been made of Boone’s skull before the remains were buried in Frankfort. The verdict was that the skull belonged to an African American. Officials in Frankfort quickly disputed the findings.

Today, both Frankfort Cemetery in Kentucky and the Old Bryan Farm Graveyard in Missouri claim to have Daniel Boone’s remains, a conundrum that might have tickled his fancy …

~ Joy

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cemeteries Worth the Visit– Frankfort, Kentucky

View of Frankfort from
the cemetery

Cemetery Gates
The Frankfort Cemetery, in Frankfort, Kentucky is visible from anywhere in the town.  Located on a bluff, it overlooks the City of Frankfort, with views of the State Capitol building, and Kentucky River. The rolling lands and vistas are gorgeous, no matter what time of year you visit.

Ambrose Dudley's
Judge Mason Brown, Edmund Taylor, A.G. Hodges, Henry Wingate, Jacob Swigert, A.P. Cox, Philip Swigert, Orlando Brown and M.R. Stealey incorporated the cemetery on February 27th, 1844.  Approval for incorporation was granted by the Kentucky General Assembly.   In 1845 thirty-two acres were purchased from Ambrose and Eliza Dudley for $3,801.  The land, at the time was known as Hunter’s Garden.  In 1858 and again in 1911, more land was purchased, to account for the current total of 100 acres in the cemetery. The Frankfort Cemetery was the second cemetery to be incorporated in the United States.

Frankfort Cemetery
Early View from Cemetery
Scottish landscape architect Robert Carmichael was hired to design the cemetery in the Romanesque style similar to Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston.  Carmichael designed curving lanes and incorporated flowers not usually found in the region to create a garden style cemetery.  He terraced certain areas to overlook the gorgeous views of the Kentucky River.  Carmichael died in 1858 and is buried here.

In 1848, $15,000 was appropriated to build a monument to those who died in defense of the country during the Civil War. The State Mound designed by Russian-American sculptor Robert E. Launitz.  Most of the intricate carving was done in Italy and then shipped to Frankfort up the Mississippi. The military memorial is located on a twenty feet square granite base in the center of the cemetery.  The Statue of Victory tops the monument and four eagles guard each of the four corners.

Cemetery Chapel
In 1890 a Romanesque Revival chapel was built on a hill overlooking the Kentucky River and Frankfort.  Painted a pale mauve, it blends in with its surroundings, regardless of the time of year.

Daniel Boone

Boone's Monument
The most visited gravesite is that of frontiersman Daniel Boone, but the infamous question is if Daniel Boone is actually buried here?  Boone died in Missouri on September 26, 1820.  He was buried next to Rebecca, his wife, at what is now Marthasville, Missouri.  The Boone’s remains were supposedly disinterred by family in 1845 and moved to the new Frankfort, Kentucky Cemetery.  But Boone’s relatives in Missouri were not pleased when Kentucky kinfolk came to take the remains South. Legend has it that they allowed them to exhume the wrong bodies to take back to the Bluegrass State.  It has never been proven if Boone and his wife were really moved back to Kentucky, or if they remain in Missouri.

Boone killing Indians
Rebecca Boone
Regardless, a large monument stands in the Frankfort Cemetery with four panels that depict Boone’s life in Kentucky.  The southern panel depicts Boone in a fight with Indians, one has been killed and one is ready to attack.  The panel on the eastern side shows Rebecca Boone milking a cow.  

Boone & boy
Boone at Cabin

On the northern panel stand a man and boy, said to represent Boone
 telling the boy where he wanted to be buried.  And the panel on the western side shows Boone sitting by his cabin with a slaughtered deer at his feet.

Grave of Theodore O'Hara
Grave of Paul Sawyier
Other notable people buried here include Impressionist artist, Paul Sawyier, Vice President Richard M. Johnson, and Theodore O’Hara, poet of The Bivouac of the Dead which is quoted in numerous cemeteries at war memorials.

The cemetery also contains the graves of seventeen state governors, those massacred at River Raisin during the War of 1812, three national poets, and many military officers and soldiers from the Civil War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War and numerous other conflicts.

Tree Replacement Program
Memorial Plaque
Wind and storm damage on this high bluff over the years, has damaged or destroyed many of the huge, older trees.  The Frankfort Cemetery completed a tree and garden replacement program in 2010, where over 500 trees were planted.  Over eighty-five different tree varieties were selected, with 60 of those being native Kentucky species.  The donation cost to sponsor a replacement trees ranges from $300 to $600, and a memorial plaque is included.

The Frankfort Cemetery is located at 215 East Main Street.  The cemetery is open from 7:30 to sunset.  The phone number is (502) 227-2403.

Bivouac of the Dead

With the gorgeous views, ample history, and beautiful landscapes, the Frankfort Cemetery is well worth the afternoon of any Tombstone Tourist!

~ Joy