This cemetery was another one in a series of works transcribed by
Alan Murray, who has his own
Jefferson County, Kentucky Cemeteries. Please email your
coordinator if you have more details concerning this graveyard.
From north of
Louisville, KY take I-65 south. Exit at Crittenden Drive, go about
a block to the first traffic signal and make a left turn. (This is
gate 4 to the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center). This gate
leads you to ring road, (one way traffic) about 1/2 a mile down
ring road you can see Oldham Cemetery on the left side in the mist
of a clump of trees. This clump of trees is in a parking lot next
to Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom.
who departed this life Sep 12th 1830, Aged 4 Weeks, (Infant child
of John & Eliza Jane Tho) - Stone broken, last name probably
??, James G.,
who departed this life Jul 0th 1835, Aged 9 Months and 15 Days,
(Infant Child of John & Eliza Jane Tho) - Stone broken, last
name probably Thomas.
b. Feb 9th 1800, d. Dec 24th 1848
Herr, Sammie L.,
b. Mar 25 1865, d. Aug 20 1871, Dau of S. L. & B. A. Herr
Herr, Sammuel L.,
b. Apr 14 1845, d. Jan 30 1865
Jr., b. Sept 14 1830, d. Oct 5 1850
Sr., b. Nov 27 1775, d. Mar 26 1834
d. Nov 23 1825, Age 43yr (*)
d. Apr 27 1822, Age 66yr (*)
b. 1785, d. Dec 26 1849 (*)
Oldham, Samuel L.,
b. Sep 4th 1807, d. Sep 5th 1837, (This stone is dedicated by his
relic Catharine Jane Oldham)
d. Jan 31 1825, Age 73yr (*)
d. 15th Mar 1826, Aged 42yr (Broken Stone)
Powers, Mary K.,
b. 1795, d. Nov 25 1848 (*)
Powers, Nevill E.,
d. Oct 24th 1817, Aged 1 Year 3 Months and 2 Days, son of Walter
E. and Mary Powers, (Who's tomb is this? It says 'tis Nevill's
tomb. Pluck'd from the world in beauty's fairest bloom no more
this lovely babe is seen to please it's parents eyes this tender
plant so pure and sweet is in eternity.)
Walter Jun., b. Dec 19, 1818, and was dep___ here the 2___day,
Brother to Nevill E. Powers, (note the ___ indicate where there is
actually a hole carved into the stone)
Clarkson, b. Feb 25 1847, d. Nov 10 1872
Taylor, Nancy, d. May 4 1826,
Age 46yr (*)
Thomas, John, b. Oct 4 1799, d.
May 1849 (*)
(*) Denotes that stone was previously
recorded in other documents but is no longer at the site
site still sitting amid thrill of midway: Family
cemetery dates to 1800s
The small cemetery on the Kentucky
State Fair midway is all but lost in the shadows of its raucous
Screams from the towering red
"Hellavator" ride and other nearby attractions mingle at
dusk with the flicker of neon lights across graves dating to the
The Samuel Oldham Burial Ground
must be among the most oddly situated graveyards in the state.
Fate's poetic symbolism in a giant
sliding board that bottoms out a few feet from the graveyard's
gate is lost on the line of wide-eyed youngsters and giggling
adults who wait to climb the steps to careen down the long slide
for a few thrilling seconds.
Many who notice the historic
cemetery rarely take time to read the inscription on the front of
the marker nearest the entrance of its shaded quarter-acre
"Oldham Family Cemetery --
Samuel Oldham, 31 Oct. 1749 -- 31 Jan. 1823."
His wife, Ann Lipscomb Oldham, is
also named on the marker, along with a passage from Samuel
Oldham's will: "I further give and bequeath forever a space
not exceeding two acres of land whereon I now reside so as to
include the present burying ground, a place of inturment (sic) not
only for the white part of my family, but also for the
The back of the marker contains
the names of many of those buried in the cemetery, as many as 22
by some accounts. In addition to the Oldhams, they include
relations by the names Herr, Mercer, Powers, Taylor and Thomas,
many of whom helped settle the Louisville area.
Oldham County was named for Samuel
Oldham's brother, Col. William Oldham.
Historians say that Samuel
Oldham's plantation once encompassed what now is the land occupied
by the fairgrounds, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom and perhaps several
The cemetery was fenced in 1981
when work began on a permanent midway at the fairgrounds. Vandals
and time have damaged several of the stones, but the family has
had several repaired and one new marker erected.
Confusion over deed restrictions
and complaints from relatives of those buried in the cemetery
prevented the graves from being relocated in 1995.
"It is the principle of the
thing," said Dona O. Page of Deer Park, Texas, Samuel
Oldham's great-great-great-granddaughter. "The man's will
plainly stated…that that (land) was to be preserved for his
family… 'forever.' Now to me, 'forever' means forever. It
doesn't mean until somebody wants to park more RVs."
Page guessed that her ancestors
would be perfectly comfortable in the middle of the state fair
"They were always in the
middle of everything," she said.
Harold Workman, president and CEO
of the Kentucky State Fair Board, said this week: "We have a
great deal of respect for this cemetery and the families that it
represents. We make sure that the grounds are maintained, kept
safe from intruders, and that it is a place where the family
members can visit."
Keith Cupp of Lexington, publisher
of the American Saddlebred magazine Bluegrass Horseman, stopped by
the cemetery this week while covering horse shows.
"It's sacred land," Cupp
said. "I think people should be encouraged to stop here and
pay their respects when they're at the fair."
Byron Crawford's column appears on
the Metro page Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. You can reach him
at (502) 582-4791 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also read his columns at www.courier-journal.com.
- printed in the Wednesday,
August 23, 2006 edition of the newspaper.
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