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THE OLD OR ROHRBOUGH CEMETERY

Narrator: Hon. Seth Young, 78, of Hamilton, Missouri

Mr. Young is one of the few business men left in Hamilton of the seventies and his own history is interesting apart from his memories. He was reared on a farm west of town on the Cameron road, where his father C.H. Young moved 1869. The young man studied law in the office of Shanklin, Low, McDougal at Gallatin and was admitted to the bar 1876. He located at Hamilton 1878 and began in an office on south Main east side where Chas. Burnett's barber shop stands. Several years ago, he served as State Senator. He has held the job of Notary Public fifty six years under sixteen Govenors.

His parents and several others in his family are buried in the Old Cemetery west of town and his story concerns this burying ground.

The plot is described as east half of out lot (44) forty four railroad addition to Hamilton. It was legally called the Prairie Cemetery as shown on the old deed giving the plot to the City by Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Rohrbough. Mr. Young now has this deed. In the sixties and seventies every one called it the Rohrbough (or more often Robo) cemetery from its owner. In 1868, Alston Bowman and Vincent Bowman circulated a paper among the citizens for the purpose of buying ground for a graveyard. Ben Langshore purchased the land from the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad and sold the same to Anthony Rohrbough, he then called A.G. Davis to survey the land and lay it out in lots, giving him as pay several lots in the north west corner. The Davis lots are now vacant because their dead are moved to the new or Highland Cemetery. A plat is in existence made by Mr. Rohrbough which shows very careless register of graves, at times the plot and tombstones left are in conflict. In a few instances he marks a grave site - name lost - or unknown - or sold.

The charge were high: $8 for a lot, $15 for a double lot, $3 or $2 for a single grave, much higher than the first prices in the new cemetery - $3 for a regular lot. He is said to have demanded pay before burial was made. There were no roads inside the cemetery, only paths between lots. Coffins were carried by hand from the public road. The Hamilton people became dissatisfied and wanted a city-owned graveyard.

After the new cemetery started 1876, Mr. Rohrbough lost patronage because the new lots were cheaper, better arranged and in a better site. Thus, the old cemetery with taxes became a load on the owner and without profit. He tried to give it to the City of Hamilton to hold as long as the premises should be used for cemetery purposes. But Hamilton would not accept the gift. Hamilton tried to make Rohrbough take it back, the case went into court, even to the Supreme Court of the State with the result that they declared that Rohrbough did not have to take it back and Hamilton did not have to take it. Hence today it stands as No Man's Land, with broken stones and unkept and untaxed. The last burial was that of T.H. Hare, photographer 1916 in the old Hare lot with his wife and children. On that day, cars drove to the graveside over sunken graves and empty grave holes.

Interviewed December 1933.

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All photos are copyright KingsCross Farm, 1997 & 1998
All written material other than reference material copyright KingsCross Farm 1998