Cemetery History - September 2012

Hancock County and the City of Greenfield have numerous cemeteries. Residences have shown a great will to memorialize our loved ones. Some of our cemeteries are one plot family farm cemeteries to 10 lot neighborhood cemeteries to large city cemeteries. All are unique. This is a history of cemeteries that fall within the City limits of Greenfield.



Old Cemetery


Marker of Joseph Stephens who died on May 17, 1877. He was only 4 years old.

The City of Greenfield’s first cemetery is located at the dead-end of South and Swope Streets, two blocks east of the court house. The land was donated to Hancock County on May 9, 1843, by Andrew P. Jackson. The cemetery boasts “here lie slumbering the men who cleared the forest and established the little county seat of Greenfield.”

One interesting fact about the cemetery is that the first burial was Benjamin Spillman’s fourteen year-old daughter, Docia, who died in 1828, long before the cemetery was donated.

By the 1860’s the cemetery became full. The Hancock County Commissioners deeded the burying ground to the City on March 3, 1868, not long after that time, many graves and their markers were moved to the new cemetery (Park) located due south.

A 1933 newspaper article reported that “after decades of neglect the grounds are tangled with weeds, briars and bushes; gravesites had not been filled in after remains were removed. The entire area is not only unsightly but disrespectful.”

In the center of the cemetery towards the back is an interesting row of headstones. They stand in a perfect line. A few headstones have been engulfed by trees. But they all are from men who have served in the Indiana Infantry or Indiana Calvary. It’s interesting that despite the trees growing around them that they are some of the best kept markers.


Row of Indiana infantry and calvary.


1St Sergeant Richard Leamond, Co. B 8th Indiana Infantry.
One of several in a row in the Old City Cemetery.

Today, only a handful of graves and markers remain, including one veteran of the War of 1812. The grounds have been restored and well maintained giving a sense of honor and respect due to Greenfield’s founders.

Some notable burials are Captain John F. Mitchell. He was born in July 29, 1791 In Washington, Mason County, Kentucky. He was a soldier of the War of 1812 with Great Britain. He died on August 1868. Also buried was Dr. Benjamin Duncan, 1812-1869 was one of the towns local Doctors. Cornwell Meek was one of three property owners that donated their property that became the City of Greenfield which lays dead center of the county. He also, along with Benjamin Spillman first surveyed Hancock County.


Marker for Dr. Benjamin F. Duncan in the Old City Cemetery


Park Cemetery

This cemetery lies just a short distance south of the Old Cemetery. The main entrance though is on the east side of South State Road 9. The original tract was six acres and was heavily wooded when it was purchased in April 28, 1863 by the City of Greenfield for $450. The City Council, at the motion of J.W. Walker, adopted the plan and plat for laying off lots on April 7, 1865, which was done by Lemuel W. Gooding.


Original Entrance to the Cemetery at the end of what is now Forest Avenue.

The current roads and blocks as we know them today began to take shape. Numerous additions have been made to the cemetery as it now contains around 130 acres and more than 5,000 gravesites. It also has room to grow with a large portion of acreage that has yet to be developed.

The cemetery is operated through a Board of regents, consisting of four appointed members.

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Current Entrance to Park Cemetery

Headstone of Brig. General Oliver P. Gooding.


There are too many interesting facts and figures to list with Park Cemetery but some notable people that are buried in the cemetery include Oliver Gooding. He was a Major General during the Civil War. He graduated from West Point and was later a lawyer in Greenfield, St. Louis, Missouri and Washington D.C. He was the Police Commissioner of St. Louis. He also was the General Attorney Insurance Department of Missouri. He died in Washington D.C. in 1909 and returned home to Greenfield for burial.

Barton-Rees Pague was a famous poet, writer, and Methodist minister. He was a professor at Taylor University. Overall he wrote six volumes of poetry. He also hosted a radio show on WLW in Cincinnati.

Will Vawter famed artist. Vawter began his career as an artist for James Whitcomb Riley books. He later moved to Brown County in 1908 where he created the Brown County Art Colony where he painted some of his most noted paintings. He died in 1941 in Nashville and was returned to his home to be laid to rest at Park Cemetery.


This is the headstone for Joseph L. Hooker who served in the Civil War. The interesting thing about his markings is at the bottom “C.S.A.” which stands for Confederate States of America, meaning he served in the Confederate Army. He was born in Randolph County, North Caroline on May 16, 1846. He moved to Hancock County after his service in the Civil War. He died on March 12, 1925. Out of all the service men who are buried in Park Cemetery he is the only one to have served in the Confederate Army.

On the stone of Anna Crumbaugh Kiefer it reads “Little Orphan Annie.” Kiefer claimed to be the inspiration for the character. Kiefer’s mother did serve as a nurse in the Riley household when Anna was a child.


This is the burial plot of Major General Joseph L. Mitchell and his wife Elizabeth. He was born on August 31, 1839 and died on June 17, 1917. He served in the Civil War in the 19th Regiment, Company A, Iron Brigade. The Iron Brigade comprised of three regiments from Wisconsin and one from Indiana. This regiment’s first battle was Brawners Farm in 1862 and went on to the Second Battle of Bull Run where they fought off Stonewall Jackson. They gained their famed name during the Battle of South Mountain, a prelude to the Battle of Antietam in 1862. Here Maj. Gen. Hooker, commanding the I Corps, approached the Army of the Potomac commander Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan. After putting up such a fight and holding their lines Maj. Gen. McClellan was quoted telling his officers “They are the best troops in the World, they held up like iron”.

Captain Rueben Riley and his wife Elizabeth are also buried in Park Cemetery. They are the parents of famed poet James Whitcomb Riley. Rueben himself was noted for being a local attorney and served as a state legislator. He also organized the first company out of Greenfield during the Civil War. He was elected Captain of the Eighth Indiana Regiment and went on to participate in the West Virginia campaign. Rueben passed away on December 6, 1892 at his home in Greenfield. Several other Riley family members are also buried in Park Cemetery.


Captain Rueben Riley and the Riley family gravesite.

Adam Lee Ogg was born in 1828. He fought in the Mexican War and was severely wounded in the Battle of Cerro Gordo on April 18, 1847. He was served the Union Army in the Civil War and was again wounded on April 6, 1862. He died in 1904.


Headstone of Capt. Adam L. Ogg.


American Revolution Memorial Park

This cemetery park was dedicated in October of 1977. It is located south of Greenfield on the corner of State Road 9 and 100 South (Davis Road). As a Bicentennial project the grave and marker of William Hatton were moved from their original burial site in Jackson Township.

William Hatton, the only Revolutionary War soldier whose burial in Hancock County is documented, enlisted in Virginia as a private in Captain Chruchill Jones’ Company in Colonel William Washington’s Third Cavalry regiment. He served two years and was wounded in the leg at the Battle of Bacon’s Ridge in South Carolina. Hatton died on August 27, 1842.


Some of our final resting places have been lost forever due to lack of record keeping in the early days of our community. But more would have been lost if it wasn’t for the foresight of dedicated people who have taken their time to maintain certain cemeteries and who began transcribing existing legible tombstones. There are still some cemeteries in the county that are in need of care and hopefully over time we can get them restored and continued to preserve them in the future.

I encourage everyone to visit our cemeteries whether you have a family member buried in the cemetery or not. Cemeteries are a great piece of local history. Once you start examining different types of stones and the dates on them you won’t be able to stop. An entire book could be written on all of the prominent people buried in our cemeteries. I challenge you to discover them on your own.

I also highly recommend getting a copy of the book Hancock County, Indiana Tombstone Inscriptions 100 years, 1833-1933 written by Sue Baker, local historian and genealogical expert. She and her husband painstakingly documented all of our counties cemeteries. It’s a very in-depth book and a must have for local genealogist.


By Greg Roland

More Greenfield History

City Phone Directory

Mayor's Office - 317-477-4300
Clerk Treasurer - 317-477-4310
Utility Billing - 317-477-4330
Planning (Permits) - 317-477-4320
Street Department - 317-477-4380
Power and Light - 317-477-4370
Wastewater Department - 317-477-4360
Park Cemetery - 317-477-4387
Pothole Hotline - 317-325-1680
Parks and Recreation - 317-477-4340
Water Department - 317-477-4350
Animal Management - 317-477-4367