By Natalie Vondrak |

Founders of Oak Hill Cemetery Tour

On a beautiful breezy evening, historian and Oak Hill Cemetery Committee member, Leslie Beesley, led a Founders of Oak Hill Cemetery Tour for the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. This tour focused on why Oak Hill Cemetery is important to the community and what role each founder played in making Oak Hill possible and how they contributed to it in a substantial way. Members of the Lawrence Parks and Recreation Advisory Board were joined by Oak Hill Committee members, Derek Rogers, LPRD director and Mitch Young, Oak Hill Cemetery supervisor.

Leslie shows the tour group photos of Lawrencians who founded Oak Hill Cemetery.

The starting point for the tour was the monument dedicated to the citizens killed in Quantrill’s raid on August 21, 1863, located in Section 3 of Oak Hill Cemetery. Leslie read the words of Reverend Richard Cordley who powerfully described in first person detail the devastation caused by the raid.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_6450-782x587.jpg
Monument dedicated to the victims of Quantrill’s Raid.

Before Oak Hill was established, Oread Cemetery was the resting place for Quantrill’s raid victims. Oread was far west of town, making it difficult to get to, it wasn’t being maintained and was trampled by cattle and horses. The outrage over its condition prompted a movement for the city to purchase a cemetery closer to its citizens where the raid victims could be re-interred. 

Leslie speaks to the tour group in front of Oak Hill Cemetery’s Potter’s Field. A potter’s field was used as a burial place for unknown or unclaimed people or for individuals who could not afford burial expenses.

During the walking tour, gravesites of citizens who had the vision for the new cemetery, who designed its layout, and who participated in making it a reality were visited.  Leslie’s informative tour included photos of the citizens on the tour along with interesting cross connections with Lawrence history during this very formative period in Lawrence, Kansas history.