Greenbush Cemetery

History

Greenbush Cemetery , established c.1848, is located in the city of Lafayette, in Tippecanoe County, Indiana. The township-owned cemetery, comprised of both Greenbush Cemetery and Old City Cemetery, contains over 10 acres.

The property is situated within the district of Fairfield Township , and is roughly bounded by 9th Street, 12th Street, Greenbush Street, and Roberts Street. An elaborate gate closes off the cemetery from allowing cars to enter the cemetery. The property is characterized by numerous historic plantings of trees, especially a variety oak, hickory, and maple trees, as well as trees exotic to the area. The historic section of Greenbush Cemetery has one set of entrance gates at the main entrance on Greenbush Street.

Greenbush Cemetery was conceived out of desperation when the city’s graveyard — where St. Boniface Church now sits — ran out of plots in the 1830s. About the same time, Lafayette trustees purchased land about one mile north to become the city’s burial ground, according to the Greenbush Cemetery tour guide booklet. In 1847, a group of local movers and shakers — including John Purdue, Godlove S. Orth, Cyrus Ball and David Ross — purchased the land that is now a buffer between main city roads and a residential neighborhood. By 1848 it was incorporated and kept up by the Greenbush Cemetery Association. The property expanded once more in 1865. The cemetery is now under the ownership of Fairfield Township since the signing over of the deed from a private association. The original section, or the northwest corner, still belongs to the city of Lafayette. The old section is identifiable by the length of unknown Civil War Union and Confederate soldier graves along Greenbush Street.

The first public Burial Ground in Lafayette was located on an acre of land at 9th and North Streets where the present day Saint Boniface Catholic Church stands. Burials took place there until 1830 when Trustees of the Lafayette Graveyard purchased a tract of approximately five acres about one mile north of the city. In 1847, 23 prominent citizens bought additional acreage for this land from Gideon Lane and his wife. Their chief object was to secure burial lots with easy access at reasonable prices for the public. The profits on the sale of lots would revert to the Greenbush Cemetery Association for upkeep and care of the cemetery. On February 3, 1848 the state legislature passed a special act of incorporation of the two cemeteries, “The Greenbush Cemetery of Lafayette.” Soon after this, three elected Trustees, Godlove S. Orth, David Ross, and Richard Eldridge, supervised the laying out of the first burial lots with the price fixed at $10 each.

The markers in the cemetery represent a mixture of social classes, occupations, and ages. The historic sections of the cemetery also contain markers from different ethnic and religious groups. Greenbush Cemetery boasts many beautiful and elaborate gravestones as well as stones that have significant symbols. These symbols could represent a religious sentiment, a military experience, or a fraternal organization that the deceased belonged to. Expensive and extravagant markers can be seen in the obelisk of Col. James Tullis and the limestone tree trunk of Senator Albert White. The tree trunk grave marker became popular in the latter part of the 19th century. These large stones were carved from Indiana limestone. Many times, the tree trunks would also have embellishments such as nesting doves or other designs to represent significant events or characteristics of the life that person lead.

Most obvious in the cemetery as an example of historical decoration is the statue named “Resurrection”. This statue is situated in Greenbush at an elevated position and centered in the cemetery’s main circle. The resurrection statue was created to commemorate the dedication and founding of the cemetery association on February 12, 1848. On the north and south sides of the statue are inscriptions giving the founding information. The east side displays the names of the original incorporators of Greenbush. In the center of a large wreath is the inscription “There shall be resurrection of the dead”.