After Quantrill's Raid in 1863, Lawrence survivors began to search for ways to memorialize those
killed in the attack. In 1864, the mayor urged the city to build a new cemetery since most raid
victims were buried in Pioneer Cemetery and it was far from town and difficult to maintain.
A local newspaper editor helped gain public support of the project when he wrote that
raid victims buried at Pioneer were forgotten and their graves unmarked.
Early in 1865, the city purchased land for a new cemetery. Instead of a simple, open cemetery
like Pioneer, Lawrence's city commissioners wanted a rural cemetery, which was the popular
trend in cemetery design at the time. Rural cemeteries were garden cemeteries landscaped to
show human interpretations of nature as art. Graceful and plentiful trees were fundamental
to rural cemetery design, as were large plots for the display of grand monuments. Oak Hill's
original entrance on the south had an elegant and decorative cast iron gate and fence, and
parts of it remain in today's entrance.
Oak Hill Cemetery became an important place for those who wished to commemorate that terrible
day in August 1863. For many years, citizens sponsored elaborate Decoration Day observances
at Oak Hill, and by 1895, a local committee had raised funds to erect the raid's victims. The
city continued to further improve the cemetery through the late 1890's by bringing city water
to the site, and building a sidewalk from the downtown area.
There are so many individuals buried in Oak Hill who were influential during territorial days and
the state's formation that William Allen White once call the cemetery, "The Kansas Arlington."
For information on cemetery services, please contact the Parks and Recreation Administrative Offices at (785) 832-3450.
BURIALS OF NOTE
James H. Lane (1814-1866)
-First U.S. Senator from Kansas, 1861-1866
John Speer (1817-1906)
-Member of the Territorial Legislature and abolitionist newspaper editors.
Two of Speer's sons died in Quantrill's Raid.
Lucy Hobbs Taylor (1833-1910)
-Taylor was the first woman to have graduated from a dental college as Doctor
of Dental Surgery in the U.S., and the first woman dentist in Kansas.
Charles (1817-1892) and Mary Langston (1836-1915)
-Grandparents of black poet and writer, Langston Hughes, who lived in Lawrence during his youth.
John P. Usher (1816-1889)
-Usher was President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of Interior, 1863-1865
Dr. Charles L. Robinson (1818-1894)
-Robinson helped found the City of Lawrence and was Governor of Kansas from 1861-1863
Dr. F.C. "Phog" Allen (1885-1974)
-Allen was a well-known University of Kansas basketball coach from 1907-1909, and from 1919-1956