The first tombstone inscription now legible, is that of George T. GODDARD. It reads, "George T.GODDARD died April 18, 1858, aged 33 years; born at Belmont, Maine January 8, 1825. Died on his farm on Rock Creek, Breckenridge County, K.T." (K.T.=Kansas Territory)
The county of Breckenridge was organized in 1860. Named by the first Legislature, in honor of John C. BRECKENRIDGE , United State Senator from Kentucky, and who afterwards became Vice-President of the United States in 1856. BRECKENRIDGE was a slavery proponent and as the pro-slavery sentiment became strong in the county, the name was changed to Lyon, honor of General Nathaniel LYON , who was killed in command of the Union Army at the Battle of Wilson Creek, Missouri, August 10, 1861.
Prior to the legal organization of the county, the territorial government had laid out the counties, and several attempts had been made to locate a county seat. Americus, because of a larger settlement in and about the town, had succeeded in securing the county seat. Laura FRENCH , in the "History of Lyon County", gives the date as "the autumn of 1858, probably in September". From 1860 to about 1862, the settlers in the vicinity of Emporia tried all manner of strategy to take the county seat away from Americus and bring it to Emporia, which was by this time was growing faster than any of the other towns in the county. Act of the Legislature changed the boundary lines of the county twice in order to gain more votes for the south end of the county. It was finally accomplished when C. V. ESKRIDGE , a resident of Emporia, then in the Legislature, had a resolution passed declaring that all of the votes cast by the settlers in the Indian land, were illegal. This act gave Emporia the county seat, but Americus had the records and refused to give them up.
George SIMONS told the story of "County Seat Was Moved", in the Topeka Capital, under the date of June 11. 1938. Mr. SIMONS was the printer for C. V. ESKRIDGE , when he as was editor and publisher of the Emporia Republican, and had heard the story of the move, or "steal", many times from the lips of Mr. ESKRIDGE . The story ends in a most amusing episode of how a band of Emporia men "one dark night set out from Emporia on horseback to batter in the doors of the old log courthouse, and steal the records." A tree had fallen across the Neosho River, and in the attempt to cross on the tree, one man fell in, another jumped in after him. He called to the third man "Help me save SODEN ", but the third man replied, " SODEN can take care of himself, I'm saving the records." It is said the records still show the water stains. The story, as related by Mr. SIMONS , was verified by many of the old timers in Americus, and is found be a clear picture of the stalwart men and women who made the county a strong unit of Kansas State History. Many of those early settlers are buried in the Americus Cemetery, as well as in the Frost and Fruitland Cemeteries, not far from Americus.
One more item of early Americus History concerning the cemetery should be included in this record. It was found in the "History of Lyon County", by Laura FRENCH . "The late J. S. GIBSON , of Americus, writing in 1919 of early days in Americus said in part: "My mother died October 28, 1858.... This was the first death in Americus, and there was but one team of horse in the funeral procession, the rest of the conveyances being drawn by oxen."
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Americus Cemetery, east of Americus, KS on Road 240, north on Road G
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Americus Cemetery Early Handwritten Records
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