By Matt Becher and Robert Schrage
Originally Published: May, 2010 in the Boone County Recorder
The July 7, 1955, edition of The Boone County Recorder noted that “In an old cemetery, just north of Burlington, Ky., rest the remains of many prominent people of the 18th and 19th centuries,” a humble introduction to one of Boone County’s most sacred places. The Old Burlington Cemetery is a 1.7-acre plot along Bullittsville Road, on the northern edge of Burlington. The cemetery contains the graves of more than 250 Boone County residents, including former County Judges, other government officials, and leading citizens from the last two centuries.
In 1964, the Daughters of the American Revolution dedicated a bronze marker in the cemetery on the grave of American Revolutionary War Veteran Israel Gilpin. His epitaph reads: Pause stranger, ere your wandering feet you turn, And from this grave a lesson deign to learn; A soldier’s ashes sleep beneath your feet, A patriot’s heart once in his bosom beat; That freedom, which we fought in youth to gain, He leaves to you to cherish and maintain.
Like most inactive cemeteries, ongoing maintenance has always been an issue at the Old Burlington Cemetery. A trust fund was created in 1953 by A. B. Renaker, then President of the Peoples Deposit Bank. That fund is now administered jointly by the Huntington National Bank and Boone County Historic Preservation Review Board. The Old Burlington Trust provides for routine mowing and removal of debris, but it is not enough to fund needed projects such as gravestone repair, fencing or tree trimming/removal.
Although the Review Board allocated $10,000 in Kentucky Cemetery grant funds to the Old Burlington Cemetery in 2005, other improvements and costly maintenance issues require additional funds. The large trees in the cemetery pose the largest obstacle to perpetual care of the cemetery. Several of the maples and oaks are quite old and have been hit by cars and/or suffered damage from road construction. The trees in the cemetery have been assessed by a certified arborist and it is clear that many of them need substantial trimming or even replacement. The trust fund is not sufficient to cover this kind of work.
by Bridget Striker
Since this article was written in 2010, the Boone County Historic Preservation Review Board continues to oversee the long-term care of Old Burlington Cemetery. Dying and fragile trees, unstable grave markers, and continuous fence repair remain ongoing and costly issues for a historic cemetery with limited financial resources.
Your contribution will go a long way toward preserving the heritage entrusted to us by Israel Gilpin and the other Boone County pioneers interred at the Old Burlington Cemetery. To make a donation, please send your contribution to:
Burlington Cemetery, attn: Benjamin Reece
PO Box 960, Burlington, KY 41005-0960
Checks should be made out to the Old Burlington Cemetery Trust Fund.