Springfield’s “Silent City of the Dead”

IMG_6295from Pioneer History of Washington County, Kentucky, by O. W. Baylor

Article written November 7, 1935

Cemetery Hill, Springfield

Springfield’s “Silent City of the Dead,” on the south side of Road Run and situated on one of the highest points in this community, is known as “Cemetery Hill.”  This city of the dead on the south is nearly as old as the town of the living on the north side of the Run.  General Matthew Walton, on whose land the town of Springfield was laid out in 1793, gave the land on the hill to be used as a resting place for the dead of the town and surrounding community.

It seems strange that Springfield’s “City of the Dead” should be known as “Cemetery Hill,” but that is the name it has borne through all the years of its history.  In late years a number of Springfield’s citizens have suggested that the name by changed.  As a substitute for “Cemetery Hill,” the name of “Walton memorial Cemetery” has been suggested.

The write has spent considerable time on Cemetery Hill, noting the numerous graves and reading the inscriptions on the stones.  There is no systematic and complete record of the burials now in existence.  Only by the stones that mark many of the graves can we determine whose mortal remains rest on the Hill.  The graves unmarked, and there appear to be many of them, are probably in the main unknown to any person of this day.

There are some distinguished bones resting on Cemetery Hill awaiting the general resurrection.  There are many less distinguished, yet none the less beloved in their day of life and by their descendants yet living.

The grave most prominent from the point of view of all Washington Countians is that of General Matthew Walton.  To him belongs the title of “Father of Washington County.”  General Walton, more than any other, was responsible for the formation of the county in 1792.  He, too, may be called the Father of Springfield, for he set aside the land on which the town was established in 1793.

IMG_6285General Matthew Walton

General Walton’s grave was covered with a large stone slab on which were recounted the virtues and deeds of his life.  This slab, many years ago was broken and a portion thereof has disappeared.  Some of the older citizens of Springfield say that when the imposing monument of John Pope was erected the now missing portion of General Walton’s monument was used as a part of the base of the Pope memorial.

Enough of the original Walton grave slab is yet intact so that by painstaking reading it may be determined that the General was born December 16, 1739, and died January 11, 1819.  He was a resident of Springfield at the time of his death, his home being the same now occupied by Mrs. Nan Mayes.  His widow, who afterward married John Pope, is buried nearby.  Her epitaph appears on the Pope monument where we read:  “Frances Pope, consort of the Hon. John Pope, formerly of General Walton.  She died aged 71 years.”

IMG_6286The Hon. John Pope, born in Prince William County, Virginia, February 1773, died in Washington County, Kentucky, July 12, 1845.

Another important grave is that of the Hon. John Pope, lawyer, jurist and statesman, who came to Springfield about 1820 and died here in 1845.  He was thrice married, his last wife being Mrs. Frances Watkins Walton, widow of General Matthew Walton.  Their home in Washington County was first where Mr. Alex Barber now lives and then in Springfield in the imposing old brick house now owned by Miss Sallie McElroy.

Over the grave of John Pope there once stood an imposing shaft of marble.  I say once stood because the shaft has been broken in several places and the pieces now lay scattered about on the ground.  There is a portion of the inscription on the monument that tells us that “The affectionate gratitude of his grandchildren has reared this monument to his memory.”  Another inscription might be fittingly placed there by some of his descendants to read:  “Restored by his remembering descendants – 1935.”

The inscription on the monument of John Pope reads as follows:  “The Hon. John Pope.  Born in Prince William County, Virginia, February, 1773, died in Washington County, Kentucky, July 12, 1845.  Member of the United States Senate, Governor of Arkansas and Representative in Congress.  He was alike distinguished as a profound jurist, a brilliant orator, and enlightened statesman; while his Roman dignity of character, his sterling integrity and truthfulness, and his many private virtues threw the softening halo of respect and love over the stirring scenes of his public life.”

1 reply »

  1. When I visited this cemetery many years ago I remember it as a beautiful and impressive place. My direct ancestor Francis Schooling, a Revolutionary War soldier, is buried here. He and his wife, Mary Hardwick, moved to Washington Co. Kentucky from Virginia after the war. My direct ancestor William Russell Watts Sr. and his brother John Stubblefield Watts married the two Schooling sisters. Marilyn

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