History of Christian County Cemeteries

To care for the dead, and beautify and adorn their silent habitations, is a solemn duty incumbent upon the living, and a beautiful, well-kept burying-ground is a sure index of the finer feelings of the people to whom it belongs. Abraham said: ” Give me possession of a burying-place with you, that I may bury my dead out of sight,” and since that day all nations and peoples have paid more or less respect to their dead, according to their stage of civilization.

The early records of the county show that Bartholomew Wood, among other donations to the town of Hopkinsville, made one of a certain lot of land for a cemetery. This is in the southwest part of the city, adjoining the grounds of the High School building, and is known as the Old Baptist Cemetery. Here, where the grass, weeds and briers grow rank with the vapors of decaying mortality, sleep many of the early pioneers of Hopkinsville and Christian County, some of them without so much as a rude bowlder to mark the spot where they lie. Upon the stones, now crumbling into dust like the bones which rest beneath them, appear many names once well known in the town. There is the name almost obliterated by moss growing over it of Benjamin Eggleston, who died in 1819; Francis M. Dallam, who died in 1823; William Nichol in 1829; Benjamin York in 1825; John Gibson, born in 1777 and died in 1844; Mrs. Ann E. Wood in 1838; James H. McLaughlan, the first regular Circuit Clerk, died in 1 823; Peyton Short in 1825; Edward Slaughter in 1839; Dr. Moses Steele in 1817; Mrs. Susanna Steele, born December 25, 1740, and died in 1820; Mrs. Mary Bell in 1818; Benjamin W. Patton in 1825; John Long in 1816; Samuel A. Miller in 1823, and many others who passed away half a century ago. Some of the old family servants sleep there too, side by side with their masters, and ” six feet of earth make them all of one size.”

As the city increased in population and necessity demanded an extension of its limits, the old burying-ground was deemed too near for convenience, and, besides, too small for the growing community. So, about 1836-37, a new cemetery was laid out north of the city, just across the river, typical, perhaps, of that river we must all sooner or later cross to reach our home in the skies. It is a beautiful cemetery, artistically laid out with walks and drives, and well shaded with trees, and ornamented with shrubbery and flowers. Neat white slabs, handsome tombs and towering monuments show the affection of surviving friends for their loved and lost ones. The first person buried there was Mrs. Phaup, in 1837; a large stone slab stands at the head of her graver which is to the left of the entrance to the ” old part ” of the grounds. Probably nearly three thousand persons have been buried there since then. Strolling through the numerous walks, one may notice the graves of many noted people once eminent in the history of Hopkinsville: Fidelio Sharp and Rufus Lansden, two prominent lawyers; Judge A. D. Rodgers; Reuben Rowland, long Cashier of the old Bank of Kentucky; John Bryant, Zachariah Glass, Thomas P. Clark, John Phaup, Isaac Landes, Gen. Daniel Hayes, Archibald Gant, John Buckner, James Moore, Judges Benjamin Shackelford and Rezin Davidge, Dr. Felix G. Montgomery, Abram Stites, for more than a quarter of a century County Clerk; Maj. John P. Campbell, for many years President of the Bank of Kentucky, and Gen. James S. Jackson, of whom it was written a few years ago: ” Here sleeps, after a tempestuous life, the intrepid and fearless Gen. James S. Jackson, member of the Legislature and Congressman, whose dauntless spirit, which laughed at danger, even to rashness, took its flight on the bloody field of Perryville. Like Harry Percy, this Hotspur of the Union army waved his sword in the face of death as gayly as though a desperate battle were a dress parade, and the war bugles were sounding the strains of a ball-room.” Many others might be named whose finger-marks are still to be seen on every hand.

Within the last few years a large addition has been laid out to this ” silent city of the dead,” and highly improved, rendering it sufficiently large to last for many years, without again extending its limits. The Hopkinsville Republican of November 10, 1881, said: ” A number of handsome monuments of marble and granite, some of them quite costly and elaborate, have been erected, both in the old quarter and in the recent large addition so handsomely laid off by Mr. Grove, of Louisville. Roses of the finest varieties bloom luxuriantly all through the seasons, and purple-fringed wild flowers blend their solemn beauty with the hectic flush and autumnal gold of the sumac and maples. Vigorous growths of white pines, dark firs and funereal cypress afford a snug shelter for the numerous thrushes, mocking-birds and red-birds which delight to build their nests in the thickly matted boughs, and pour forth their early morning notes, wrapped in their own little dreams of joy, and unconscious of the aching hearts and human sorrow whose pale emblems glimmer around them.”

During the late war Mr. Louis Elb, aided by the generosity of Mr. Wolf, of Louisville, once a merchant of this place, bought a lot for the Jews where the dead have since been buried. It is in the rear of the Sharp homestead, in the cedar grove near the Nashville road, and some years since was inclosed by order of the City Council. It is a very hand-some little burying-ground.

There was also a cemetery used solely by black people during the segregation era. This is situated just beyond the fair grounds, and is known as Union Benevolent Cemetery. It contains a number of handsome stones and slabs, and is kept in good order and taste.


Perrin, William Henry, ed., Counties of Christian and Trigg, Kentucky, Historical and Biographical, Chicago : F. A. Battey Publishing Co., 1884.

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