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[Graphic] Old Episcopal Burying Ground
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[photo] The Caretakers Cottage at the Old Episcopal Burying Ground
Photographs by Eric Thomason, courtesy of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation

The land upon which the Episcopal Burying Ground lies was purchased in 1832 by Christ Church Episcopal as a burial ground for its parishioners. The cemetery became extremely important during the 1833 cholera epidemic during which Christ Church lost approximately one thrid of its members. It was in this cemetery that William "King" Solomon laid to rest dozens of bodies when no one else would, thus elevating him to the status of a hero. The burial ground also contains a small chapel that was built around 1867 and is thought to have been designed by Lexington architect John McMurtry. The small Carpenter's Gothic style chapel later became a sexton's cottage.

Another view of the Caretakers Cottage
Photograph from the National Register collection, courtesy of the Kentucky Heritage Council; photo taken by Randy Meyers

Many prominent individuals were buried in this cemetery including Mathias Shyrock, father of Kentucky architecture; Colonel George Nicholas, the father of Kentucky's constitution and the first attorney general for the state of Kentucky; and the family of Col. Thomas Hart who was the father-in-law of statesman Henry Clay. Hart was also a member of Richard Henderson's Transylvania Company that aided in opening Kentucky to settlement in the 1770s. Following the establishment of the Lexington Cemetery in 1848 many of the bodies in the Old Episcopal Burying Ground were re-interred in the new cemetery while many of the old headstones were left behind. The last bodies were interred in the Episcopal Burying Ground in the 1870s. The historic cemetery remains a peaceful, tranquil plot of land that is reminiscent of a time when religion played a prominent role in people's lives and when the death of a loved one came not just from old age but from a wide variety of illnesses and epidemics to which the cholera pandemic of 1833 is a testament. The Episcopal Burying Ground has been known by various names since its beginning; these include Old Episcopal Cemetery, Old Christ Church Cemetery, and the Old Episcopal Burying Ground.

The Old Episcopal Burying Ground is located at 251 East Third St. and is still owned by Christ Church Episcopal. The cemetery is not regularly open to the public but private tours can be given by appointment by calling 859-254-4497.

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