Cemetery history written by Douglas Stern and Joan Marchand in 1982
Furnished by Dennis Au
Oak Hill Cemetery is a historic landscaped site developed beginning in 1853 and containing about 175 acres situated 1½ miles to the northeast of Downtown Evansville, Indiana. Bordering the site on its western side is a multi-lane U. S. highway; on other sides is low-scale, modern-era residential and commercial neighborhoods. In spite of this encroachment, the cemetery has preserved its original pastoral tranquility. The Victorian period concern for creating an evocative, contemplative atmosphere has been carefully maintained to the present day, making Oak Hill the city’s premier public burial ground and an important cultural statement.
Oak Hill was the second of Evansville’s platted, public burying grounds and succeeded a small 2 ½ -grave yard opened in the 1830s on the southeast edge of the young village. By mid-century, however, there evidently arose a need for a new public Cemetery and, in a Common Council meeting of 12 August 1850, a committee was appointed to reconnoiter the surrounding countryside for the purpose of finding a new Cemetery site. Within two years, 56 acres had been acquired 1 ½ miles northeast of the town, and by February 1853 lots were offered for sale. The first interment occurred on the 18th of February, and later land purchases (up until 1924) gave the Cemetery its present acreage.
The site selected by the council 120 years ago was, according to a contemporary newspaper account, a “hillock, a wilderness of underbrush and briars, and called at that with a mantle of loess, underlain by sandstone. A 1927 topographical map showing the Cemetery tract depicted the land of the original 1852 purchase as gradually ascending on the south from the floodplain level of 390 feet to a height of 430 feet. On the north end, there was a sharp drop-off. In profile, as viewed particularly from the east, the contour of the hill looked like the back of a two-humped Bactrian camel with a central Erosional vale. The early burials took place on the southern slope, close to the ridge. Today, interment sites not only blanket the entire prominence, but also cover the flat lands at the foot of the hill on three sides. Although the Cemetery comprises 175 acres, less than 120 have been platted and made available for interments. A tract of about 55 acres across the northern part of the Cemetery bordering Morgan Avenue has been farm-leased.
The present Oak Hill plat plan, including the original purchase and the later additions, has been the product through time of various public servants, such as city engineers and surveyors. However, the appearance of the Cemetery landscape—with particular regard to the plantings—was primarily nurtured over an 80-year period (1853-1932) during the tenure of two superintendents. For the first four decades of the Cemetery’s existence (1853-1897), the beautification of the grounds was the responsibility of John S. Goodge. In his obituary (June 1897), he was credited with the “work of making the beautiful place the Oak Hill now is.” Some of the more mature plantings are very likely the result of Goodge’s endeavors. His successor, William Halbrook (1898-1932), brought to his position his knowledge and experience gained as a florist, and a large portion of Oak Hill’s verdancy was the result of his handiwork. Since 1932, some planting has occurred, but not on the scale of the preceding 80 years.
Designed landscape features exploited the strengths of the original site and underscored the prevailing picturesque and melancholy mood of the place. An intricate tracery of crossing and curving pathways (now asphalted, one-lane drives) formed a lacy network which conjoined with the site’s hill and vale topography and natural arborous properties created a picturesque setting for “the sleeping place of our dead,” as one 19th century journalist characterized Oak Hill. The collection of trees comprised native Indiana and American specimens as well as ornamental exotics, and includes: juniper, holly, blue spruce, tulip tree, dogwood, catalpa, sycamore, locust, Japanese ginko, magnolia, and varieties of pine, oak, cedar, maple and willow. There was obvious planning behind the placement of the pathways and plantings and together they formed a complete naturalistic landscape of quiet retreats, vistas and curvilinear movement. Some thought was obviously also given to the selection of the trees, for while time itself seems suspended within the Cemetery, the seasons are chronicled by the changing foliage of the deciduous growth and, in winter, by the evergreens.
In addition to these distinctive plantings and walks, Oak Hill was enhanced by a number of other landscape features. The seclusion which characterizes this burial ground was furthered by the enclosure of its land on three sides by a brick wall and by a single entrance gate located on the south side of the Cemetery. The approach to the main gate was by a 365-foot-long drive which begun at Virginia Street and was bordered on each side by a continuation of the wall. The Mission Revival gateway was also designed by architects Harris and Shopbell in 1901. The overhanging hipped roof was clad with red barrel tiles, and the soffit was coffered. Extensions of the gateway are connected with the brick wall.
Within the Cemetery there were two man-made bodies of water—reflecting pools. To the left of the gateway, in the Western Addition, the central attraction was an oblong lake fed by the city water system and containing a small island. Spaced upon the banks of the lake were temple-style mausoleums of stone erected by some of the city’s most prominent citizens as a last resting place for their family members. The island, connected to the mainland by a stone bridge, was the interment area for the Johnson family whose patriarch, Mead Johnson, founded the Mead Johnson & Company pharmaceutical concern in Evansville, and whose remains were also interred on the island. The round, colonnaded monument of granite was erected for Johnson in 1934. The other pool, also fed artificially, was situated directly behind the Administration Building and was part of the improvement program undertaken in 1899 which saw the construction of this primary building.
Perhaps the most hallowed ground in the Cemetery was the interment sections which contained the remains of soldiers who died in battle or in Evansville hospitals from battle-incurred wounds during the Civil War. The remains of 500 Union men, 24 Confederate soldiers and 98 local dead were buried in three separate sections—all victims of Civil War battles. In 1868, the city began efforts to secure designation of the Union veterans’ areas as federal property, eventually succeeding with a Congressional appropriation and recognition in 1898. Several years later, in about 1903, the Fitzhugh Lee Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy erected a monument in remembrance of the 24 soldiers who died for the South. A memorial for local Union dead was added in 1909.
The grassy spaces of Oak Hill were embellished by an exceptional array of grave markers, finely executed in marble, granite or limestone. There were classically inspired Mausoleum with wrought-iron gates or heavy bronze doors, designed by local architects. The design of some mausoleums followed more exotic sources common to Cemetery architecture such as Egyptian Revival. Life-sized statuary dotted the lands and was a tribute of Evansville artisans. Towering above the other grave furnishings, and proclaiming the importance of those buried beneath, was tall monolithic pillars.
There are no Cemetery grounds buildings remaining from the early period of Oak Hill’s history. The present Administration Building, located on a knoll just below the southernmost high point, replaced the earlier combination office/residence building in 1899. Erected on plans prepared by local architects (William) Harris and (Clifford) Shopbell, the Chateauesque-styled Administration Building featured a central bell tower, a railed porch extending around three sides of the rectangular edifice and a porte-cochere on the east side. It’s bearing walls, constructed of Cleveland Hydraulic Pressed brick (exposed on the interior), and was faced with rustic Bedford limestone set in random courses. Windows had stone slab lintels and sills while the central entrance and the tower window above featured curved arches with moldings constructed of limestone voussoirs. On the interior, there were three rooms arranged on axis with the length of the building. Originally, the larger room at the west end was used as a waiting room, while its counterpart on the east side was used as the office. A small room in the middle of the building was once the chapel. Because of changing funeral practices and the popularization of the funeral parlor, the chapel has been converted into a two-tiered Vault room. This conversion was done at the expense of bricking in two, 10-foot-wide archways which provided clear passage between the three rooms. The interior appointments were in keeping with the robust style of the exterior. Walls were brick-trimmed with terra cotta moldings. Heavy, over-sized, half-glass doors surmounted by transoms, opened into the two end rooms, and a massive brick fireplace with round-arched opening took up almost the entire west wall of the trustees’ room.
Beyond the Administration Building, on the north, was the receiving Vault. Shopbell & Company, the successor firm of Harris and Shopbell, designed this small brick-walled building on Greek-temple lines in 1911. The front elevation featured a distyle in antis plan. Columns, entablature and pediment were clad with creamy terra cotta, and the roof was covered by green tiles. Double bronze doors opened into a small chamber containing tiers of vaults once used for remains waiting for burial.
There were two other 20th century buildings which bear mention. They are grounds buildings and were erected in 1928 on plans prepared by local architect Alfred E. Neucks. The service building was a one story rectangular brick structure enclosed by a green-tiled hip roof with a deep overhang. The roof featured round-arched dormers with circular vents. The east and west elevations contain large central vehicular bays flanked on either side by multi-paned coupled windows. The combined garage and implement building located to the east of the interment area was a long, low, one-story brick building with a hip roof covered by asphalt shingles. It contained three large bays to accommodate the grounds machinery. Originally, the plan included horse stalls in the south end of the building.
Oak Hill Cemetery was a significant feature of Evansville’s architectural as well as cultural landscape. As the product of mid-Victorian impulses, the grounds and other improvements of the site reflected the values and frame of mind of 19th-century Evansville. Its designers and superintendents captured the romantic moods important to city-dwellers in a total environment of greenery, walks, buildings, and grave markings. Popular local architects created buildings and mausoleums which were both functional and sublime, underscoring the Victorian’s urge to get the maximum benefit from their public works. More than simply the final resting place of prominent and not-so-prominent Evansville citizens, the Cemetery served as a vehicle for a wide range of cultural and urban events essential to an understanding of life in 19th-century America cities.
Oak Hill began simply. Its 1852 establishment was the response to the city’s outgrowing the earlier pioneer plot close to the village, and later completely engulfed by urban growth. The site of the Cemetery was barren of most vegetation except for tall grass and weeds. Access to the place was gained after a long journey from town, crossing railroad tracks and enduring the presence of two slaughter houses nearby.
In a short time, however, Oak Hill took its place alongside other monuments to civic pride. The variety of trees and shrubs planted and maintained by Sexton Goodge practically gave the Cemetery the status of an arboretum. The grading and improvements of walks and of roads and the steady expansion of the grounds through land acquisition reflected a widespread commitment on the part of the public. The erection of the Administration Building and other turn-of-the-century capital projects probably marked the high point of the Cemetery’s development.
The picturesque landscape of Oak Hill was a deliberate design judgment and public work which characterized 19th-century American park and Cemetery architecture. The genesis of professional landscape architecture nearly coincided with the founding and early development of Oak Hill in the seminal 1854 plan for Central Park in New York by Olmsted and Vaux. However, the longing for naturalistic surroundings can be traced well in the 18th Century and answered a theme common to most of the 19th Century, which is the search for evocative, romantic associations in the forms of buildings and landscapes, particularly as a contrast to urban realities. Oak Hill was intended as much for those living in urban Evansville as well as its dead. Early editorials supported the cultivation of the Cemetery as a place suitable for “a pleasant promenade,” relaxation, and reflective contemplation, especially for the “hundreds and thousands of our citizens who cannot afford the luxury of a carriage drive.” Like the city’s 19th-century waterworks on the Ohio, the improvement of the Cemetery was aimed at fulfilling a recreational as well as functional purpose. Oak Hill was there when citizens “became wearied with the sight of human faces, when the noise and bustle of the city grate harshly on the ear, when we feel an inward yearning for some quiet spot where we may rest in seclusion, undisturbed and alone.”
The first city owned Cemetery was a two and one-half acre area at Fifth and Mulberry created in the 1830’s. On August 12, 1850, the City Council created a committee to look for a new site. In 1852 fifty six acres were chosen about a mile and a half east of the city. The first burial was Ellen Johnson, age 2, on February 18, 1853.
The Administration Building was designed by Harris and Shopbell and built in 1899. It consisted of a chapel, waiting room, and an office. It was remodeled in 1917. The mission revival gate was also designed by Harris and Shopbell and built in 1901. The brown rugby brick wall was started in the 1920s.
The following tour information was provided by Dennis Au, Historic Preservation Officer and the grave locations were found by Jane Peckinpaugh and Shirley Glassford.
“HERE LIES EVANSVILLE”
TOUR OF Oak Hill Cemetery
1. “Willow Lake.” Island is called “Johnson Island” and is the burial place of E. Mead Johnson and members of his family. Johnson was the founder of the Mead Johnson company, one of the city’s primary corporate citizens since 1915. The main feature of the island is the “Temple of Love” that was erected on the island in 1934 when Johnson died. It is constructed of granite and is of classical Greek/Roman design. Sec. F
2. Henry family stone – statue with uplifted face (“Hope?”). Sec. C Lot 102
3. Miller marker; might note the verse “Let me live in the side of the road,” etc. Sec C Lot 99
4. Bacon family – Albion Fellows Bacon, early 20th century housing reformer. Her sister Annie Fellows Johnston, writer of the “Little Colonel” books, is also buried in Oak Hill. Sec C Lot 103
5. “Well Head.” Of more recent vintage.
6. Lee Howell – steam boatman and district superintendent for the L&N Rail Road, after whom the town of Howell was named. Sec C Lot 76
7. Administration Building. Erected 1899 just to the east of the early Cemetery building. Romanesque design built with Bedford limestone and features a red tile roof and porches that encircle the building. The design was by the Harris & Shopbell firm. The placement of the building gives it a ceremonial aspect. The main gateway, with its lime-stone pillars, tiled roof and iron gates—was also the design of H&S, only in 1901.) Neither the Ad Building nor the gate way have changed much over the past decades.
8. Charles H. Butterfield – lawyer, judge, Civil War colonel and mayor of Evansville, 1873-74. (No concrete link known at this time with the Butterfield of Smith & Butterfield.) Sec 2 Lot 1
9. Grese and Micker markers. Two separated columns joined at top with “vater u(ndt) mutter” inscribed above the arch. Will see nearly identical markers at various spots in Cemetery. Some will feature the joined hands, further symbolizing the togetherness of husband and wife during life and in death. Sec 2 Lot 16
10. Decker stone. Markers will also sometimes expand on the information of a person. This one has “Kammen Nagh America 183.” Sec 2 Lot 21 Left Side
11. Vernoica Knauss stone. Note delicate garland, possibly executed in 1875 at the stone works of F. J. Scholz. Sec 2 Left Side
12. Troup stone – polished pink granite like the stout columns of the front of the Old Post Office. Sec 2 Lot 37
13. John Douglas obelisk – the obelisk form related to myths of solar ascension and was copied from the Egyptians. “Ascension” may be the key to its Cemetery use. Douglas died 1863. Epitaph: “Those who knew him best, loved him most.” Sec 2 Lot 36
14. Marcus Sherwood. Established the Sherwood House hotel at Locust & 1st Streets in 1839. The hotel was Evansville’s “Best” before the St. George was built across the Street (present McCurdy site) in 1874. (Note the impermanence of marble as opposed to that of granite—the “Rock of Ages”. Granite was first used here in the late 1870s for burial markers. Might also note the Sherwood House was razed to make way for the 1905 Elks Club which, in turn, was razed after a destructive fire in 1977. Sec 2 Lot 56
15. John S. Goodge – most ornate lettering seen in Oak Hill. Goodge was sexton of the Mulberry Street Cemetery and, subsequently, sexton of Oak Hill from 1853 to his death in 1897. The longest serving of 44 years. Sec 2 Lot 58
16. E. Q. Smith – one of the city’s pioneer furniture manufacturers; his supply mill was located on the present Museum site and his chair manufacturing company was on NW 3rd Street. The Smith monument is of granite and it has an East Lake cast to its style, with fringes and fancy upright members. Sec 3 Lot 26 Left Side
17. James Lockhart, d. 1857. Judge & congressman. Only base of marker remains. Sec 7 Lot 10
18. Nugent monument. The form—rectangular with flat top—is derived from either the Greek sarcophagus or the Egyptian mastaba. Sec 7 Lot 56 Left Side
19. Thomas Peelar, d. 1895. Husband of Louisa (or Mary Louise) Chandler Peelar, daughter of John J. and Polly Chandler. Statue pointing toward heaven. Sec 7 Lot 30
20. John J. Chandler. Lawyer. Owned large tract of land around 4th/Parrett and Chandler streets. Sec 7 Lot 32
21. Garvin-Baker plots. Thomas E. Garvin. Lawyer and land developer. Law partner of Conrad Baker. Garvin Park was his family’s picnic grove. In 1915, the City paid about $55,000 to the heirs for the land that today is Garvin Park and the site of Bosse Field. Sec 12 Lot 48 Left Side
22. Mayor William Baker and Governor Conrad Baker monument. William was mayor of Evansville 1859-72 (died in 72). His brother Conrad was Lt. Gov. of Indiana, 1864-1867, and Governor, 1867-1872. Mayor Baker’s marble “oval” tomb, executed by the Uhlhorn stone works in 1873, has disappeared; probably simply fell apart since at that time, marble marker and tomb stone elements were joined by copper rods. Sec 12 Lot 50 Left Side
23. John S. Hopkins obelisk. Evansville’s second mayor: 1853-56. Sec 12 Lot 43 Left Side
24. Gen. & Mrs. Robert M. Evans’ graves—vaults surrounded by chains. The top slabs are stone painted black. Evansville named after Evans. (McGary, one of the founders of the city, is not buried in Evansville.) Sec 13 Lot 49 Left Side
25. Samuel Vickery obelisk. Wholesale grocer. Many of Evansville’s family fortunes were founded on a regional wholesale trade enabled first by the steamboat, followed by railroad transportation. Sec 14-22
26. Dallam stone, with statue of bowed grief. Sec 14 Lot 20
27. Leslie Igleheart—2nd generation of the Igleheart milling company that was absorbed in 1926 into General Foods. The Igleheart Swans Down Cake Flour, originated in the 1890s, is the older firm’s most famous product, while Kool-Aid, Postum and Pop Tarts fame is that of General Foods. Igleheart (and Igleharts) were a large family; several of their plots are scattered about the Cemetery. Sec 17 Lot 1
28. Dr. Madison J. Bray. One of Evansville’s pioneer physicians and surgeons. Came to town in 1835 and lived to write the chapter on local medicine in the 1889 county history. Naturally, in this respect, he plays a prominent part in that facet of the city’s history. Sec 17 Lot 3
29. James E. Blythe obelisk. Prominent Civil War-era attorney. Sec 18 Lot 44
30. Rev. and Mrs. Albion Fellows (nee Mary Erskine). Parents of Albion Fellows Bacon, Annie Fellows Johnston, and Lura Fellows Heilman. Rev. Fellows was the minister at the time the present Trinity Methodist Church at 3rd and Chestnut Streets was built.
Sec 18 Lot 59 Left Side
31. Katie Sawyer (with Angel) and “Katie’s Baby.” There won’t be a dry eye in the house. Daughter of Dr. Freeman Sawyer. Born in 1862; grew up in her parents’ home at 810 SE First Street. At age 22, Married Richard A. Thomas of Louisville in January 1883. One year later, in May (1884), Katie gave birth to a little girl. The new born survived, but Katie died during the birth. The child would have been named after Katie’s mother, Elizabeth, but since Katie died, it was decided to name the baby “Katie”. Three months later, though, baby “Katie” died.
In August 1900, when Dr. Sawyer died it was related in his obituary that he was “buried beside his beloved daughter (Katie), whose death brought great sorrow into his life. He had often said that he desired very much to go and be with her, that the only thing that bound him here were the ties of his family. (By way of note, the survivors given in his obituary were his wife Elizabeth and another daughter, Mrs. W. M. Newell of Washington, D. C.)
Right in back of the statue, close to the ground on a little pedestal, is a nosegay of flowers executed in marble. I think that on the pedestal is the name “Katie” Sec 18 Lot 47
32. George Rathbone, obelisk with draped urn. Prominent banker—Evansville National Bank (the predecessor bank of Old National Bank). The Rathbone Home of SE 2nd Street was built by his wife and sister as a memorial to him. From 1905 to about 1961 it served as a home for “gentlewomen,” principally retired school teachers. The Home was closed in 1983. After a renovation and expansion project, up-scale apartment living was offered for several years. However, since 1988 as the Rathbone Retirement Community, the original mission of the Rathbone Home has continued to be carried out. Sec 18 Lot 63 Left
33. Elizabeth Harrison—an old sandstone marker, the oldest marker in the Cemetery. Relocated to Oak Hill possibly from the first grave yard in the city which was at 4th and Vine (now a parking lot next to the old jail). Sec 18 Lot 51 Left Side
34. John Watson Foster: U.S. Minister to Mexico, Russia and Spain; U.S. Secretary of State (June 1892-February 1893). Wife, Mary Parke Foster, president-general of the D.A.R., 1895-96. Parents-in-law of Robert Lansing, President Wilson’s Secretary of State. Grandparent of John Foster Dulles, secretary of state and of Allen Dulles, head of the CIA, during the administration of President Eisenhower. Sec 19 Lot 55
35. William Heilman. German immigrant. Founded Heilman Machine Works and a plow company (later known as Vulcan Plow under Maj. Albert C. Rosencranz). Heilman was a member of Congress from 1879-1883. Died in 1890. The life-sized statue of St. John was erected in 1892. Son was Charles F. Heilman, mayor, 1910-1914. Lura Fellows Heilman was George P. Heilman’s wife. George was another son of William Heilman.) Sec 19 Lot 58
36. Hutcheson marker: “Mother and children united in life; in death we are not separated.” Marker of polished Black granite with delicate incising at top corners. Note the willow tree carving on the markers flanking the Hutcheson marker (just behind it). Sec 18 Lot 34
37. Samuel W. Eaton. Small gable-roofed Vault with headstone. Text: “Our Darling.” Sec 19 Lot 44 Left Side
38. Military burials from war between North & South.
39. Boetticher monument with two statues; unique in Oak Hill. Boetticher & Kellogg Hardware, a wholesale concern of the last century and into this century. Sec 25 Lot 36
40. Charles Denby. U.S. minister to China, 1881-94. Wife, Martha Fitch Denby, daughter of U. S. Senator from Indiana in the last century. Sec 25 Lot 54
41. Ortmeyer stone: Christ with a cross. John L. Ortmeyer was associated with the Puster Furniture Co. (like pus), later renamed the Indiana Furniture Co. Half of the building still exists at the corner of NW 6th and Ingle streets. In the two decades bracketing the turn of the century, Evansville was a nationally recognized hardwood and furniture manufacturing center. Sec 31 Lot 34
42. Note “pile of rock” to left of drive just after the Ortmeyer stone. The “rocks” are actually carved with carved twining lilies. The inscription has totally disappeared, unless rubbing would bring it out.
43. John Mundy, double-tree-trunk stone, but no wife’s name, Louisa, on the second trunk. Sec 26 Lot 3
44. Small stone for Christina & Freddie Kuhs, with lamb. Sec 26 Lot 10
45. Martin obelisk, with G.A.R. inscription. Sec 26 Lot 15 Left Side
46. A triangle of prominent Germans: Ossenberg (politics); Lauenstein, with a Cherub (owned German-language newspaper until WW I); Funkhouser (2 sons killed in WW I; Funkhouser American Legion post named for them); Nonweiler (furniture—Evansville Furniture Co., present site of the Evansville Antique Mall on Pennsylvania St.).
47. Charles Leich. German immigrant. Founded a wholesale drug firm in the early 1850s, still owned by the same family. On a visit to Germany, became “trapped” there during WWI. Sec 29 Lot 3
48. John Laval. Physician, pharmacist, land developer and one-time head of People’s bank. Erected the Laval Block in 1884 on West Franklin Street. Sec 37 Lot 5
49. Speck Rosenbranz; inscription in German. Sec 37 Lot 1
50. Other Rosencranz family stones include Major Albert C. Rosencranz. Married William Heilman’s daughter and became head of his father-in-law’s plow works (renamed Vulcan Plow). Sec 37 Lot 1 & 2
51. Breitschu stone. Inscription in German. Sec 29 Lot 2 Left side
52. Mr./Mrs. Matthew Henning. Horizontal gable vaults. Henning was a 19th century banker. Sec 36 Lot 6
53. Orr family plot. Orr Iron Company, established 1835. Orr descendant is former Governor Robert D. Orr. The monument was erected in 1884 and is of blue crystal granite. The oak and laurel wreath symbolize strength and victory. The total weight is about 30 tons. Sec 36 Lot 17 Left side
54. Cyprian Preston. Early Evansville merchant. Statue pointing heaven-ward. Sec 36 Lot 18 Left side
55. Might note the roughed-textured Torian cross. Barbours are also buried in the plot. Torian and Barbour were wholesale cap and hat merchants. Sec 36 Lot 47
56. William Chandler. Son of John. Note the footstones are present, but the main stone has disappeared. It can happen, no matter how prominent one was. Sec 36 Lot 21
57. Hornbrooks and Caldwells. From pioneer families of Saundersville, in northern Vanderburgh County. Sec 37 Lot 10
58. Ragon stone, angel with trumpet. Wholesale groceries. Sec 37 Lot 12
59. Elizabeth Tabor. Text: “In affectionate remembrance of Elizabeth Tabor, born in Somersham, Hunt, England.” The Vault has a Gothic feeling about it. The cross leaning against the end has inscribed “Sister Martha.” Sec 40 Lot 3
60. Viele Circle. One of the town’s prominent families, beginning with Charles Viele, who came to Evv in the 1830s and dealt in wholesale groceries and liquor. Family home is the very striking house at Riverside and Cherry, across from the Museum. It was a social center in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Family died out after the 3rd generation. Sec 40
61. Frederick Washington Cook – Latin inscription, “Love never dies.” Established a brewery, 1853. Closed 1954. Produced Cook’s Goldblume Beer. The monument was made by the Scholz Monument Works in about 1915 and was designed as an “Exedra in Memorial Design—Grecian.” (An exedra= a niche or recess usually with a bench or seats, and generally semicircular in plan. Sometimes it was an extension of a colonnade.)
Sec 37 Lot 21
62. (Just to the south, behind the Cook monument) Charles Klingelhoefer’s flat stone loaded with garlands, wreath and angels. It was executed in the Uhlhorn monument works in 1876. Note the delicateness of the work. Sec 37 Lot 23
63. Annie Fellows Johnston – Author of the “Little Colonel” books, daughter of Rev. Albion Fellows. Sec 38 Lot 29 Down hill behind Reitz Monument
64. Minnie Zoa Burtis. Statue of a little girl feeding a lamb. Sec 38 Lot 1
65. Edgar Seitz. Rose on scroll. Sec 38 Lot 4
66. Caden monument. Franz Caden’s limestone quarry on the Green River in Kentucky furnished stone for many important buildings here and across the country. Willard Library is one example. Another is the former William Heilman mansion (611 1st Avenue, now the St. Vincent’s Day Nursery), which is faced with the Green River stone. His son built an English Revival house on Willow Road in 1929 that was veneered with Bedford Limestone; the Caden’s Kentucky quarries ceased operation just after the turn of this century when the stone “played out.” Sec 38 Lot 5
67. Juniper Circle, a Victorian who’s who. Within the circle, clockwise: Willard Carpenter (railroad and canal promoter, land speculator, merchant and founder of the Willard Library); Samuel & Martha Orr Bayard (president, Old National Bank); Louis Puster (furniture manufacturer); Watkins F. Nisbet (wholesale dry good, built the “mansion” at 310 SE 1st Street); Gilbert (dry goods); John Ingle (lawyer, owned the Ingleside Mine on Reitz Hill, and projector of the Evansville & Terre Haute R.R.); North Storms (grain dealer; nephew was Lee Bourland Storms, who was associated with the Red Spot company); Grammer (steamboats and railroads); Karges (furniture; still a Karges family business)—although a new stone, the sentiment is pure Victorian: “That which is so universal as death must be a blessing.” Outside the circle, one passes on the east, the Dannettell stone, among others. John H. Dannettell was mayor of Evansville from 1886-1889. Sec 44, 45 & 46
68. Franz Englesmann – Chicago sculptor who designed and executed figures on the courthouse. Sec 45 Lot 33
69. Becker monument (to the right of drive, across from Juniper Circle). Quarry-faced cross with marble statue of woman holding wreath and whose skirt drapes down the steps. Sec 40 Lot 19
70. Reed Lodge, Masonic burial area. Sec 44 Lot 54
71. Scholz (new stone). The F. J. Scholz marble works supplied tomb stones and monuments to prominent families in Evansville and as far away as Texas. Sec 44 Lot 25
72. Kornberger. Terrific bas-relief portrait; only example in Oak Hill. Rudolph Kornberger was a German native; came to Evv in 1884; ran a saloon on Fulton Avenue; died in 1905 at age 69. Sec 40 Lot 21
73. Young stone. Names written on an open book.
74. Thomas Erwin, d. 1900. Stone includes bronze Woodmen of the World plaque. Membership in fraternal organizations used to be a form of burial insurance. Sec 42 Lot 4
75. G.A.R. section; Union troops with statue on high pedestal.
76. Union soldiers’ burial ground. Many died of wounds at Evansville’s Marine Hospital, then situated on the river bank at the head of Wabash Avenue. (The W. Illinois Street Marine Hospital was built in 1892). Note cannon/cannon balls—which keep disappearing.
77. Isaac Harrison monument and family plot. Obelisk with draped urn. Harrison was a Gypsy King. Note the Masonic emblem. Sec 23 Lot 119
78. Frank X. Wolfe—Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks. Sec 23 Lot 136
79. Whilhelm Henze, age 2; statue of small boy wearing boots. Some Evv residents who played in the Cemetery when young refer to the statue of “Little Willy”. Note also the stone to the left and “papa” and “mama” stones next to the road. Sec 20 Lot 11
80. Confederate marker, erected in 1904, commemorating 24 confederate men, most of whom died at the Marine Hospital.
81. Former “receiving Vault”. Used to store bodies which were awaiting burial.
82. James Urie, pioneer plow maker. His concern was the predecessor of the Blount/Burch plow works. Sec 11 Lot 35
83. Karl Kae Knecht/Moore obelisk. Knecht a cartoonist for the Courier; drew almost every prominent Evansvillian between about 1915 and the 1960s. (Knecht Married Elwood Moore’s daughter Jennie.) Sec 8 Lot 33
***Markers earlier than 1853 were relocated from the Mulberry Street Cemetery or were emplaced after 1853. Oak Hill was a thicket of brambles and briars, known as “Lost Hill” before the Cemetery was established.
Written by Donald E. Baker; 05/1988
(revised/expanded; 05/14/89; JCM;
corrected/reprinted 04/05/91 JCM)
revised 8/8/2007 Jane Peckinpaugh
Other Notables Buried in Oak Hill Cemetery
- Dr. Cola K Newsome – (CK Newsome Center) Dr. Newsome was a local physician and was the first black to serve on the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Board. He served from 1964 through 1971. He was instrumental in the early planning of desegregation of the public schools. He also served on the Evansville Housing Authority, the Public Recreation Commission and the Southwestern Indiana Mental Health Center.
- Dr. George W. Buckner
Oak Hill Cemetery, about a mile from the city center (downtown), was platted in 1852. the first burial was that of little Ellen Johnson, age 2, which took place in the old part of the burial ground, across from the present (1899) Administration Building. Her marker--if she had one—has disappeared. Prior to the 1899 Ad Building, there were frame buildings in the general vicinity, which included the sexton’s house and a utility building or two. These were torn down years ago. In 1899, Harris & Shopbell prepared the plans for a new Cemetery structure that included at its center a chapel. (This was converted into a records storage area in about 1917.)
The Western Addition was added to the Cemetery in 1903. The lake—Willow Lake—was a part of the landscaping design, as was the island.
John S. Goodge was Oak Hill’s first sexton (superintendent)—from 1853-1897, when he died. William Halbrooks was then appointed superintendent, and remained in the position until his death in 1932.