Andrew Johnson bought the land that comprises the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery 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 and unobstructed view of the railroad, 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."
Charles and Robert Johnson
During the monument dedication ceremony, the family gave recognition to two of Johnson's sons, Charles and Robert. They preceded their father in death, and had been buried elsewhere.
Charles, a surgeon during the Civil War, fell from a horse and died in 1863 at the age of 33. Robert, his father's private secretary, 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 in the Old Harmony Cemetery in Greeneville. They were reinterred before this occasion, and two neat, matching stones mark their resting place today.
Andrew Johnson Jr.
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. Plauged with tuberculosis, he only outlived his parents by four years and died at the age of 26.
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."
Martha Johnson Patterson & David Trotter Patterson
Martha, the oldest Johnson child, served as White House hostess in stead of her mother, Eliza Johnson. Martha's husband, David Trotter Patterson, had been one of Tennessee's Senator at the time of Johnson's impeachment. Senator 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.
In Martha's will, she requested that the hill become a resting place for veterans in a "park-like" setting.
Mary Johnson Stover
Mary Johnson Stover was laid to rest in the family 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.
The Stover Descendants
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 Stover, is buried beside them. Andrew Johnson Stover suffered a head injury when young, and he became a hermit in later life.
Two markers in front of these headstones belong to Andrew Johnson Bachman and Ethel I. Bachman, a great-grandson and great-granddaughter-in-law.
The Patterson Descendants
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 descendants 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, where she championed her cause.
Later, after the fulfillment of her dream, Margaret 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.
The family owned the cemetery property until 1906. From 1906 until 1942, the cemetery fell under the jurisdiction of the War Department. The first veteran burial took place in 1909; by 1939 there were 100 graves.
When the NPS took over in 1942, the 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. Along with Andersonville National Historic Site, the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery remained one of only two active national cemeteries within the National Park Service until 2019.
It remains a distinction that both these cemeteries are administered by the NPS and have gravesites for soldiers other than those who fought in the Civil War. In the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery 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. By 2019, the year of the cemetery's transition to inactive status, over 2000 headstones marked the hallowed ground.
Last updated: July 6, 2022
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
121 Monument Ave.