Cedar Hill Cemetery Gaining Historical Marker

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Following back-to-back Saturdays, several Princetonians are about to be so much closer to their town’s deep and rich history.

At 2 p.m. this Saturday, the Caldwell County Historical Society and City of Princeton officials will oversee a dedication ceremony of two historical markers set to be unveiled in Cedar Hill Cemetery — with Kentucky Historical Society Community Engagement Coordinator Alli Robic set to be in attendance.

Then, from 6-9 p.m. on September 25, the Caldwell County Genealogy Society will convene at the cemetery for its heavily-anticipated annual “Ghost Walk” — which didn’t occur last fall due to COVID-19.

While the two events separate on the calendar, they are interwoven in so many ways.

Founded in 1809, Cedar Hill Cemetery — perhaps better known as the city’s cemetery on Green Street — has 32 box tombs, many of which were made by Scottish stone mason John Adamson prior to 1835.

Carolyn Traum, chair of the Caldwell County Historical Society, has been pivotal in this specific preservation effort, which has led to the successful application of the Kentucky Historical Society’s “Pioneer Cemetery Program.”

Several rigorous criteria had to be met in order to even apply for this program, and according to Caldwell County Genealogy Society members Maggie Gammon and Robert Ward, the September 25 “Ghost Walk” will specifically honor some of the histories of people buried in these “Pioneer” plots.

During the “Ghost Walk,” Traum will be playing the role of one Margaret Edwards, who was a real Daughter of the American Revolution, as well as the daughter of a notable political dignitary from early in America’s history.

Ward also noted that the “Ghost Walk” — which isn’t meant to be scary, nor threatening — will be a family event, in which diligent research and care will be reflected in close portrayals of interesting past citizens.

Those older than 12 must pay $5 upon entry, and those 12 and younger have free admission. Gammon and Ward both said there is still a need for parking guides and attendants, and that such a community service would be particularly beneficial for high school students perhaps seeking volunteer hours for clubs and scholarships.

Tours will be going every 15 minutes, Gammon said, and reservations do need to be made by phone at (270) 963-0895.

‘Pioneer Cemetery’ Specifications

According to the Kentucky Historical Society, cemetery municipalities must meet 10 requirements in order to qualify as a “Pioneer Cemetery” of Kentucky — which was relinquished by the state of Virginia officials in 1789 and admitted to the Union as the 15th state in 1792.

(1) The cemetery was established and receiving burials by 1842. (Documented by photographs of the pre-1842 grave marker or other historical documentation)
(2) The boundaries of the cemetery can be documented.
(3) The graves of individuals who were living in Kentucky prior to 1800.
(4) A cemetery for which over 10% of the existing gravestones are for individuals who died prior to 1850.
(5) For a large municipal cemetery only that portion that contains graves with dates prior to 1842 and 10% of existing gravestones of individuals who died prior to 1850 will be considered and designated as a Kentucky Pioneer Cemetery.
(6) The cemetery has been cared for and cleaned of debris.
(7) The cemetery has been mapped, according to accepted methods of mapping.
(8) The cemetery is registered with the Kentucky Historical Society’s Cemetery Preservation Program.
(9) The cemetery is marked with a Kentucky Historical Society’s Pioneer Cemetery Marker
designating the cemetery as a Kentucky Historical Society Pioneer Cemetery (optional.)
(10) Documentation of the GPS coordinates for this cemetery.

Any cemetery accepted as “Pioneer” does become a part of the KHS Registry of Kentucky Pioneer Cemeteries, and it becomes marked with a special KHS Pioneer Cemetery Mark, with the cost paid by the applicant.