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The Old Third Street Cemetery

Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky

Source: Old Houses of Lexington, C. Frank Dunn, typescript, n.d., copy located in the Kentucky Room, Lexington (Kentucky) Public Library.

The old Episcopal cemetery on East Third street, about which much has been written, was the subject of some notes by the late Judge James H. Mulligan many years ago that are of much interest today. Strange to say, Judge Mulligan and nearly all recent writers overlooked the outstanding monument in the old cemetery - the beautiful little Greek temple erected by Gideon Shryock, Lexington's most noted architect, over the graves of his parents 

Judge Mulligan's notes follow:

On East Third street in Lexington, Ky. is the old Episcopal cemetery. It was established in the early thirties and a large part of Lexington's most prominent citizens were buried there. Now however it has been long abandoned and fallen into decay. The leaning headstones, the broken urns, the effaced inscriptions tell the story as does the riot of brambles, thistles and Spanish needles which covers the lawn. The hum of the busy, heedless little city drifts over the graves and the chill autumn weather, the sere brown leaves and bare trees harmonize with the forgotten tombs.

"On most of the stones the inscriptions have become almost obliterated by lichen and the sod has grown over many of the slabs. Several of the lots in this cemetery are enclosed with iron fencing and some of the tombs are in the form of slabs resting upon columns, which must have been a favorite pattern in the old days. The names on some of the stones have been chipped off, and others are so broken and disintegrated that the legend can no longer be deciphered. In the center stands the caretaker's cottage, with an air of old-world quaintness, but it too, has fallen into sad neglect.

"One is struck with the youth of many of the wives or consorts as they are called, resting here. On stone after stone is inscribed "died in the 18th year of her age" or "died in the 17th year of her age."

Back from the street is a large marble slab with the inscription 'in memory of Franklin Combs, eldest son of Gen. Leslie Combs, born November 17, 1824, died December 31, 1844. Having been waylaid and assassinated by a cowardly villain named George O'Blennis, in Point Coupee, Louisiana. His short life has been full of trying events. He accompanied the Texas Santa Fe Expedition while yet a youth and encountered all the dangers and hardships that a disastrous campaign. His captivity, suffering and gallant bearing when a prisoner in Mexico form a part of history. He was released by the President, General Santa Anna and treated with _____ kindness and consideration. He met death with all the fortitude of true courage based on the highest principles - honor. The sod of grass on which his head reposed when he died is now growing at the head of his grave. He lived beloved and died deeply lamented by all who knew him.'

Franklin Combs was the son of General Leslie Combs, one of the most prominent men of the early nineteenth century, having served with distinction in the War of 1812 and the Indian Wars. The Observer and Reporter, published in Lexington, on January 15, 1845 says the ill feeling between O'Blennis and Combs originated over a piece of land lying between their Louisiana plantations, which O'Blennis desired and which Combs purchased. O'Blennis in revenge had committed repeated depredations upon Combs' property, for which Combs was suing him at the time of his death. It (the newspaper) prints the following letter from Judge J.W. Black, headed Point Coupee, La., January 1, 1845:

Gen. Leslie Combs:
It is with sincere pain that I have to inform you of the death of your son, Frank Combs. He was killed by a Mr. O'Blennis on yesterday and the only person present was a young man by the name of Johnston. His statement is that he and Mr. Combs were riding home, having been below. O'Blennis came riding past them at full speed, after they had passed O'Blennis house. After passing them some 20 yards, O'Blennis jumped from his horse, having a double barrel shotgun in his hand, and immediately fired both barrels. Frank Combs fell dead. O'Blennis absconded immediately.

The Observer and Reporter for Wednesday, January 22, publishes an account of George O'Blennis' attempt to bribe the watchman to free him. He was at the time confined in the Baronne Street Prison in New Orleans. The same paper for Wednesday, February 26 describes the burial of Franklin Combs, which took place on the 22nd of the month. It was a military funeral. A charge of artillery was fired over the grave, the Lexington Artillery under Capt. W.B. Bradford and the Lexington Light Infantry under Capt. J. Happy attending.

Near the entrance to the cemetery are the tombs of the Bradfords, descendants of John Bradford, who settled in Lexington in 1785 and who, with his brother Fielding Bradford in 1787 established the Kentucky Gazette, the first newspaper west of the Alleghenies. He was a Revolutionary soldier and also took part in the battle with the Indians at Chillicothe. The Bradfords were a family of editor-printers, famous in the early history of the country, some of whom are buried in Trinity church, New York City.

In this cemetery too was buried John Grimes, one of the foremost of the Old Masters of the Blue Grass. Little is known of his antecedents. He first appears as a waif in Lexington. He was adopted by Mr. Thomas Grant, and later became a protege and pupil of Matthew Jouett. All of his paintings possess charm, that elusive quality which 'age cannot wither nor custom stale.'

His own portrait by Jouett is in the Metropolitan Art Museum and is that of a handsome, attractive young man. He appears well groomed and has a decided air of polish. Some of his works remain in central Kentucky and many in Nashville, Tenn., in possession of the leading families. He died of consumption. His tomb bears the simple lines 'To the memory of John Grimes, Artist, died December 27, 1827, age 38.'

On a faded headstone are the words Capt. John Postlethwaite, died June 1833. John Postlethwaite came to Lexington from Pennsylvania in 1790 and founded Postlewaite's Tavern, now the Phoenix Hotel. His son Lewis Postlewaite, who succeeded him as a hotelkeeper, is buried nearby.  It was he who changed the name of that famous hostelry. His epitaph is Gabriel Lewis Postlewaite, Born April 3, 1808, Died May 16, 1874.

There is a touch of humor in the inscription of A.M. Davis. It reads 'A.M. Davis of Texas, lived and died a Christian--July 29, 1845', suggesting that he at least spent the 29th in a Christian manner.

Another grave is that of Miss Sarah Hall, a native of Hull, England, housekeeper at Ashland for more than 50 years and died at an advanced age.

On another the epitaph is 'In memory of Mrs. Eunice Lockwood, formerly Mrs. Ayres, who died on the 15th of November, 1837, aged 59 years. Her death was occasioned by the upsetting of the stage coach between Lexington and Louisville. She was highly connected and the name Ayres is still perpetuated by a street.

Near her grave repose the Harts, Andersons and Pindles, names distinguished in Kentucky history. In the Hart lot is buried Eleanor Grosch Hart, of the Grosch family, celebrated in Colonel days, and a first cousin of Gen. John Hunt Morgan.

The handsomest monument here is that of the Martin family. It is a block of sandstone surmounted by a sort of stone canopy in which is set funeral urns, the lot being enclosed by an iron fence. Here are the graves of John L. Martin, born April 14, 1779, died October 17, 1854, and Catherine B. Martin , wife of John L. Martin and daughter of Col. John Blanton, who was born in Augusta, Ga. 21 day of January, 1785, and died 20 of August, 1830. Two of her sons repose on one side of her and two of her daughters on the other. The sons are Orville B. Martin and J. H. Martin; the daughters are Patsy Duncan, wife of Garnett Duncan and Charlotte Richie, wife of Dr. Richie, both of whom died at the age of 22 years. The portraits of Mr. and Mrs. John Martin and the Hon. Garnett and Patsy Duncan were painted by Jouett. Col. Blanton Duncan, son of Garnett Duncan was a Confederate soldier, a man of ability and prominence. He lived for many years in Louisville, Ky. where the descendants of the family still occupy place and position. 

One stone is erected 'in memory of Lucien, son of C and H Wheatley, born April 4, 1843, and died April 27, 1865'. Being one of the prisoners of war returning from Andersonville, Ga. and lost by explosion of steamer Sultana, near Memphis, Tenn. His body was never recovered.

On many of the tombstones are carved the sinister year '1833' when the cholera raged and when poor victims were left to the mercy of strangers for burial. One of the first of these was John Postlethwaite, who died in June. Most of these graves must have been dug by 'Old King Solomon' the vagrant hero immortalized by Allen.

Near the gateway, as you leave the graveyard is a small shaft blackened and crumbling, erected to James O'Bannon a member of a once influential family whose name is perpetuated by James Lane Allen in 'The Choir Invisible'. The epitaph is 'Sacred to the memory of James O'Bannon, who departed this life February 26, 1841, aged 29 years and 4 months. Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff comfort me.'

The Garden Club recently inaugurated plans to restore the old cemetery, "Lexington's Westminster Abbey," and Charles R. Staples, local historian, compiled the original lot owners from deed book 11 in the Fayette county court records, where there is a map of the four-acre property filed by Jacob Ashton and Thos. P. Hart trustees for the Episcopal Burying Ground, in November 1837. The property was deeded, December 31, 1832 by Charlton Hunt and his wife Rebecca. Charlton Hunt was the son of John W. Hunt the first mayor of Lexington (sic). There were 12 sections of ten lots each, as follows:

Section 1: (lots) 3 John Bruman, 4 Isaac Reed, 6 Joseph Bruen, 7 Will Swift, 8 Daniel Bradford, 9 Mrs. E. Miller, 10 Thomas D. Pinkard.

Section 2: (lots) 1 Michael Gaugh, 2 Dr. Lunsford Yandell, 3 Mrs. Brooks, 4 Thomas Monks, 5 A.F. Hawkins, 6 Will S. Smith, 7 Joseph Fowler, 8 Wirt and Pulliam, 9 Joseph Ficklin, 10 Robert Frazier.

Section 3: (lots) 1 John Sprake, 3 John Keiser, 4 Thomas Layton, 5 K. Oldham, 6 Matthias Shryock, 7 David Luderman, 8 Richard Ashton, 9 Jacob Ashton, 10 Louis Thompson.

Section 4 (lots): 1 James Erwin, 2 Mrs. Hester Morrison, 3 Richard A. Curd, 4 John Postlethwaite, 5 Thomas P. Hart, 6 George W. Anderson, 7 John L. Martin, 8 Thomas Smith, 9 Henry Clay, 10 James O. Harrison.

Section 5: (lots) 1 and 10 John Robb, 2 John Tilford, 3 Spencer Cooper, 4 John Bruce, 5 and 6 John Brand, 7 Bernard Gratz, 8 E. Berry, 9 Leslie Combs.

Section 6: (lots) 1 Samuel Pilkington, 2 Thomas Higgins, 3 John Ward, 4,5,6,7, John W. Hunt, 8 Sylvester Welch, 9 Dr. Whitney, 10 A.K. Smeads.

Section 7: 1-2-9-10 Strangers' lots, 3A Warner, 4-5-6-7 blank, 8 R.H. Chinn.

Section 8: 1 C.H. Wickliffe, 2 H.I. Bodley, 3 M. Fishel, 4-5-6 unsold, 7 John Cornwall, 8 E.J. Craig, 9 James Weir, 10 M.T. Scott.

Section 9: 1 Van Dorin, 2 H.S. Boyer, 3-4-5-6-7-8 reserved for parsonage, 9 Mrs. Nelson, 10 James E. Davis and Margaret Moore.

Section 10: 1 Mastin Smith, 2 John Carty, 3 B.C. Randall, 4-5-6-7 reserved for vault, 8 Dr. Stephen Chipley, 9 Thomas P. Hart for George Nicholas heirs, 10. Daniel Mayes.

Section 11: All unsold except No. 10 John Hull and Joseph Putnam.


Miss Alice Traube published the following "partial list" of inscriptions on tombstones in the old cemetery, in the Kentucky Historical Society Register in January, 1925.

Mrs. Elizabeth N. Brooks (1783-1842) consort of I.A. Brooks; 
Sara Brennan (1800-1828) consort of John Brennan; 
Adella C. infant daughter of T. and J. Monks; 
son of L.P. and S.J. Yandell (died 1836);
Jeremiah Gaugh (1822-1853) and Nettie A. (1835-36);
William A. (1839-40) and Elizabeth Gaugh (1837-42); 
Mrs. Mary Soister (1820-1838) consort of John Soister; 
William Thomas (3 year old) and James (22 mos.) sons of James Virden (died October and November 1842);
Mary Jane (1819-1851) daughter of Thomas and J.A. Monks;
Lydia Sprake (1787-1855); 
Charles R. Morrison , Jr. (_) 2 years old (died 1841);
Robert F. Tomlinson (1820-1845); 
Mary L. (10 mos - 1831) and Virginia K. (1825-33) children of John P. and Prudence Eblen; 
Perry W. Gaugh (1817-1859); 
James D. McIntosh (1816-1833); 
Emiline J. (1816-1818) daughter of W.L. and J. Reed; 
Joe Ann (1809-1841) second wife of Thomas Monks; 
Sara A. (1818-1849) consort of Jonathan Tolls; 
George Willis (1799-1834); 
Sarah (1787-1859) consort of Michael Gaugh; 
Sarah Sprake (1756-1833); 
Thomas Sprake (1760-1833); 
Isaac Sprake (1799-1846); 
Sarah A. Sprake (1835-1841); 
Elizabeth E. Sprake (died 1841 - 4 years old).

Rosamond (1808-1836) wife of Thomas E. Noble; 
Lewellin (1810-1845 son of L.E. Johnson;
Robert (1829-1836) son of E.L. Noble; 
Ebenezer (1817-1835) son of E.L. Noble; 
James (1834-1842) son of Jacob and Sarah C. Ashton; 
Margaret H. Green (1805-1842); 
Joseph (1835-37) infant son of Jacob and Sarah Ashton; 
Lewis Thompson (1801-1833); 
Thomas Richard (1825-died, 10 mos. old); 
Charles Bingley (died 1831 2 yrs old) and Elizabeth (died January 3, 1833); 
stone with name broken off reads 'died May 12 1838 in 31st year of her age.' 
Also "Augustus F. infant son who died August 31, 1838"; 
Mary P. (1835-1851) wife of A.H. Clark; 
A.M. Davis "of Texas lived and died a Christian July 29, 1845."  
Mrs. Judith Herndon (1768-1853); 
William J. Kelser (1811-1837); 
Joseph Biggs (1832-1849); 
Mary E. Biggs (1836-1839); 
Charles Biggs (1845-1846); 
Mrs. Elizabeth G. Herndon (1805-1845) wife of A.C. Herndon
Diana Ashton, wife of Richard Ashton (1773-1833); 
Mary Ashton (born July, died July 3, 182_) consort of Richard Ashton; 
Adele Everett (1833-1840) daughter of Thomas B. and Mary E. Poindexter, of Mississippi.

Mary E. Shryock (1789-1844)
Matthias Shryock (1774-1833); 
Mary Sophia (1810-1841) daughter of James H. and Sophia H. Oliver; 
Thomas Hart Anderson (1824-1830); 
Edmund Taylor Anderson (1825-1831); 
Julia Spencer Anderson (1830-1836); 
Rhode Oliver Anderson (1830-1831); 
Catherine Hannah Anderson (1843-1843); 
Eleanor Hart Turner; 
Sarah Francis Turner; 
Col. Thomas Hart, died 1808; 
Susanna Gray Hart (1749-1832); 
Thomas Hart, Jr. (1772-1809); 
Thomas Pindell Hart; 
S.D. Hart (1831); 
M.S. Hart (1832); 
Eleanor Grush Hart (1772-1856); 
(footstone) M.L. Hart (1822); 
Orville B. Martin (1802-1828); 
Catherine (1885-1830) wife of J.L. Martin and daughter of Col. John Blanton; 
Patsy Duncan; 
Charlotte Ritchie (1811-1833) wife of Doctor J. Ritchie; 
Charlotte Field (1827-1832); 
John L. Martin (1779-1854); 
Andrew F. Price (1773-1833); 
Tabitha (1768-1834) relict of Samuel Smith; 
E.C. Armstrong (1833-1857), wife of J.W. Armstrong
Ellie M. McConnell (1852-54); 
Mattie L. Scott (1807-1865); 
Robert L. Scott (1799-1833); 
Mrs. Marian Winthrop (1811-1838) wife of Rev. Edward Winthrop; 
Thomas Whitney (1764-1819); 
Emily Whitney.

Franklin Combs (1821-1844); 
Mrs. Margaret Combs (179_ - 1844), wife of Gen. Leslie Combs; 
stone erected by John H. Robb to the memory of his wife and children with following three inscriptions: 
          Mary Eliza Robb (1831-1832), Francette Robb (1829-1833), Mrs. Nancy Robb (1809-1833); 
Sarah Stanard Welch (1811-1838) wife of Sylvester Welch and daughter of Daniel and Mary Stanard
          of Indiana County Pa., and granddaughter of David Stanard of Rensalaer, N.Y.; 
Samuel Pinkington born Arragh, Ireland (1782-1832); 
James (1828-1835) son of Thomas and Mary Huggins; 
Christopher Crowe, native of Ireland (1798-1822); 
Catherine (1810-12 - daughter of C. and M.J. Crowe); 
Catherine Elizabeth Pilkington (1821-1822); 
John M. (1830-1846) son of Thomas and Margaret Huggins; 
Thomas Huggins (1800-1858); 
Ann Canby (1806-1833) consort of John Canby; 
Josephine Sidney Hunt (1813-1834) consort of Philamon Hunt of St. Louis and daughter of 
          Peter I. and Mary Robert; 
Margaret Huggins (1798-1833); 
James S. (1849-50) "son of P. and S. Haring"; 
Eliza Lucretia Calvert (1817-1833) native of Mississippi; 
Cornelius Voorhies (1775-1835) erected by sen. Cornelius Voorhies of St. Martinsville, La.; 
Mary J. Yorn born 1832; 
Mary H. (1850-53) daughter of J. and W. Goeker.

Capt. William Alleson "of the Lexington Light Infantry, who died beloved and lamented 
          by all who knew him;" 
Frederick S. Butt (1810-1841); 
Celeste (1814-1842) wife of John Canby; 
Rebecca Spiller daughter of England (1741-1818); 
Marie Beckley (died 1833) widow of John Beckley; 
Anna B. Nelson (1760-1834); 
John Nelson (1750-1834); 
J.H. Harlow (born 1618); 
Hannah McMeekin (1808-1843) consort of Samuel McMeekin; 
Catherine W. Casey (1785-1849); 
erected by nephew, J.A. Hampton; 
Ezra Boyer, "who was murdered on the 4th July 1816 aged 16 years, 5 months;" 
Elizabeth Boyer (1767-1815); 
Elizabeth Jane (1810-1852) consort of Alfred Y. Boyer, "four of her babes lie buried here;" 
Thomas Luther Smith M.D. (1808-1836) born near Selby Yorkshire, England; 
Martha Mantire (?) born 1825, wife of R.G. Mantire; 
Asaac Cook (1803-1850) born county Tyrene, Ireland.

Charles (infant died 1810) son of G. and N. Wheatley; 
William Walter (infant 1841-2) son of G. and N. Wheatley; 
Mary Rebecca (1815-1846) daughter of G. and N. Wheatley; 
Ann Essex (1757-1819); 
William Essex (1791-1819); 
Claida Devere (1829-1835) born in Liverpool, England; 
Thalinga W.(1819-1847) wife of John Besore;
daughter of A.I. and M. Wilson (1825-1845); 
Charlotte E. (1824-1857) wife of George Hopps
Mary Schooley, consort of P.W. Schooley
Samuel Shivel

To the above list Charles R. Staples adds S.F. Bonfile, Professor at Transylvania, who died during the 1849 cholera epidemic and whose name he discovered on a large slab in the old cemetery.

Copied by Mrs. Ty McConnell, Lexington, Ky. member of Capt. John Waller Chapter D.A.R.

Contributed to Capt. John Waller Chapter, D.A.R. by Mrs. Pearl Day Bach, (Mrs. Wm. Everett), 165 Bell Court West, Lexington Kentucky. 

Transcribed by pb June 2004

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