Online Map and Coordinates for this Cemetery:
UTM 16 449666E 4202791N
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This was the location of Evansville's first cemetery. It was located in
the general vicinity of Court, 3rd, 4th, 5th & Sycamore Streets.
"In early days little attention was paid to the adornment of places of sepulture. When Hugh McGary proposed to donate a portion of his lands to the then new county of Vanderburgh to secure the choice of his town as the permanent seat of justice, he was careful to reserve one acre of land the title to which he refused to divest himself of. This acre of land commenced at the tombstone of Amanda F. McGary and ran an equal distance in each direction parallel with the streets of the town. It was selected by Col. McGary in the presence of the board of commissioners in February, 1821. The tombstone of Amanda McGary stood near the center of the space now covered by the German Methodist church at the corner of Fourth and Vine streets. That locality was used as a public burying ground even before the original town was laid out, and for several years thereafter. It was in the woods and sufficiently remote from the village on the river bank. Indians and white settlers are supposed to have shared together this final resting place. Its limits were not at first contracted or defined with certainty, internments being made in all parts of the woods near there. It was a neglected spot, for even as late as 1836, says an old settler:
"It was no light task to cut the way into it, such a thicket of brushwood and briers covered the ground.""Many are yet living who remember the broken tombstones and neglected graves of this early "burying ground." 1
George William Goodge describes the cemetery in his autobiography of
"The canal proper ran up Fifth Street to Sycamore. From Sycamore Street it ran across the block, between Sycamore and Vine, into what was called The Basin... There was a cemetery on that spot of ground, and the bodies were removed and the Canal Basin was dug..." 2
Excavation for the basin of the Wabash & Erie Canal was begun by 1837. Oak Hill Cemetery was not established until 1853, so most burials would have been removed to the Evansville Graveyard at Chandler and 5th Streets.
1. Brant & Fuller. History of Vanderburgh County, Indiana. Madison, WI: Democrat Printing Co., 1889.
"Old Cemeteries Often Disappear." Evansville Courier & Press 20 February 2000.
Tenbarge, Eleanor Glenn. Early Death Records, Evansville, Vanderburgh County, Indiana As Early As 1818, Through 1883; Includes Civil War Soldier's Burials. Evansville, Ind.: E.G. Tenbarge, 1990.