The Early History of Richmond Cemetery

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The Early History of Richmond Cemetery


This article is taken from the Richmond Climax, dated May 22, 1889, as supplied by Jasper Castle.

“The Richmond cemetery goes back to about 1848, when Senator John Speed Smith obtained a charter incorporating the cemetery. Nothing more was done for a time, but in 1849 cholera swept away many people and caused renewed interest in the subject. In 1852, the charter was amended, allowing a vote for a tax of $1,000 upon the people of Richmond, to be taken. The election was held, the proposition carried and finally all the money was collected.

In 1856, the trustees, composed of William Rodes, T.J. Gordon, William Holloway, Wm. H. Caperton, Daniel Beck, James B. Walker and Curtis F. Burnam, bought 18 acres of land from Joel Walker at $100 per acre. It was part of the Col. Humphrey Jones tract. In about 1885-6, another 10 acres was bought for $500 an acre from the same Walker-Jones tract.

The cemetery was dedicated on the 31st day of May, 1856. (The) Rev. E. Forman opened the services with prayer and Hon. Curtis F. Burnam delivered the address. Mrs. Jane Todd Breck, wife of Judge Daniel Breck, was buried on the day of the dedication.”

In 1889, it was the most beautiful and costliest cemetery in Kentucky, save those of Lexington, Frankfort and Louisville. Costliest meant there were numerous monuments that cost at least $3,000 in this cemetery.

In 1889, more than $200,000 had been spent on monumental work alone. It has some of the most impressive monuments to honor the citizens buried there.

Upon entering the grounds, the visitor is confronted by a sentinel with a gun in hand, Captain James Estill, the pioneer hero of Little Mountain. Today, this monument badly needs restoration work.

Today’s Richmond Cemetery Board does a fine job in maintaining the grounds and I am sure all the people of our community join me in thanking them for their hard work and dedication to this concrete and evocative part of Madison’s heritage. Jasper Castle’s family and a number of the members of the Engle family are buried there. Unfortunately, vandals recently damaged a number of monuments in the oldest part of the cemetery.

Thanks to Jasper Castle for his historical detective work.


Dr. Fred Engle




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Dr. Fred Engle, “The Early History of Richmond Cemetery,” Madison's Heritage Online, accessed June 15, 2024,