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A Short History of the National Cemetery
Welcome to Monument Hill.
The land that comprises the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery was bought by Andrew Johnson in 1852. According to family tradition, Johnson enjoyed coming to this spot for peace and meditation. It afforded superb and unpopulated views of the mountains in the distance. Because of its height, it was used during the Civil War for signaling, and it became known as "Signal Hill."
It was Andrew Johnson's request that he be buried here, and he was, on the 3rd of August, 1875. At the crest of the hill, the Masons carried out the rites of burial.
The family erected the tall obelisk over Andrew and Eliza Johnson's grave in 1878. There was a dedication ceremony, and afterwards, this became known as "Monument Hill."
During the monument dedication ceremony, recognition was given to two of Johnson's sons, Charles and Robert. They had preceded their father in death, and had been buried elsewhere. Charles, a surgeon during the Civil War, had fallen from a horse and died in 1863 at the age of 33. Robert, his father's private secretary, had died shortly after the family's return from Washington in 1869 at the age of 35. Charles had been buried in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Robert probably in the Old Harmony Cemetery here in Greeneville. They were reinterred before this occasion, and two neat, matching stones mark their resting place today.
Andrew Johnson Jr. was the youngest of the Johnson sons. He was commonly referred to as "Frank."
Andrew Jr. was the only Johnson son to marry. He married Bessie Rumbough of Hot Springs, NC and found occupation first as a newspaper editor and later as manager of a cotton mill. He only outlived his parents by four years.
Even though Andrew Jr. was the only Johnson son to marry, he and his wife had no children. His marker reads "To the memory of my husband."
The two Johnson daughters, Martha and Mary, are buried in the family plot as well.
Martha had served as White House hostess for her mother, Eliza Johnson, and Martha's husband, David Trotter Patterson, had been one of Tennessee's Senator at the time of Johnson's impeachment. Patterson cast one of the "not guilty" votes during the trial.
Martha lost both David and their daughter Belle within months of each other in 1891. Martha, however, lived longer than any of the other Johnson children. She witnessed the turn of a century, and died in 1901.
Mary Johnson Stover was laid to rest here in 1883. She and her first husband, Daniel Stover, had three children, Sarah, Lillie, and Andrew Johnson Stover. They lived in Carter County, TN. Daniel died during the Civil War, and the widowed Mary moved to the White House with her parents. She preceded the family's return to Greeneville to rennovate and restore the family home.
Mary married William Brown a short time later; they divorced after the deaths of her parents. Both of her husbands are buried elsewhere, but her children and descendants are in the Johnson family plot.
Mary's two daughters followed her in death only three and nine years later.
If you look at the headstone of Mary's daughters, Lillie and Sarah, you will notice that it is somewhat different in style than the others ~ both of these girls converted to Catholicism, and there is Catholic influence on their marker.
Their brother, Andrew Johnson Patterson, is buried beside them.
Two markers in front of these headstones belong to Andrew Johnson Bachman and Ethel I. Bachman, a great-grandson and great-granddaughter-in-law.
These three headstones belong to Andrew Johnson Patterson, his wife Martha Barkley Patterson, and their daughter Margaret Johnson Patterson Bartlett. Andrew Johnson Patterson was the grandson of Andrew Johnson through Martha. These three were pivotal in the preservation of all that would become the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site. Margaret Johnson Patterson Bartlett had tea with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House. There she championed her cause. Later, after the fulfillment of her dream, she delighted many visitors as she led them on a very personal tour of the president's home. She worked with the park until 1976 ~ she had lived at the Homestead until 1956. When she died in 1992, she laid in state in the Homestead parlor, and she became the last family member to be buried in this family plot.
Click for an outline of the family burial ground to see where these and additional family members were laid to rest.
The Cemetery Today
The cemetery was owned by the family until 1906. From 1906 until 1942, the cemetery was under the jurisdiction of the War Department. The first veteran burial took place in 1908 ~ one hundred years after the birth of Andrew Johnson. By 1939, there were 100 graves.
When the NPS took over in 1942, their original policy was to allow no more burials. The DAR and American Legion, however, began lobbying for the reactivation of the Cemetery, and in 1946 they found success. The Andrew Johnson National Cemetery is one of only two active national cemeteries within the National Park Service. It is a distinction that they both are part of the few cemeteries administered by the NPS to have soldiers other than those who fought in the Civil War. Here you will find veterans from the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, WW1, WW2, the Korean War, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan.
The Cemetery is still an active and open veteran cemetery today. Learn more about burial requirements within this honored resting ground.
Last updated: April 13, 2016