Cottonwood Cemetery - Flint Hills Genealogical Society


Four miles west of Emporia and just off of Highway 50 South on the North side, {Section 11, Township 19, Range 10} there lies a cemetery known as the Cottonwood Cemetery. It should be called the Quaker Cemetery for it was set aside as a burial plot for the Quaker {Friends} people. (The Friends Church is across the cemetery on the south side of Highway 50)

In the seventies (1870's), there was discord in the Quaker Church groups all over the State and perhaps the Nation. The differences of option began over dress and music. In the Cottonwood Church a division of the group occurred. The part of the membership that remained in the meetinghouse took the name of the Fast or Progressive Quakers. The dissenters were known as Slow or Primitive Quakers.

The Slow branches met in the schoolhouse and in the homes of the members for sometime, but later built a small church a mile west of the old one. Here, too, a small burial blot was laid out. This church continued for a number of years, but later fell off in membership and finally discontinued altogether. The few remaining ones decided to remove the bodies of their loved ones from this burial ground to the first and larger burial ground, sell their property and give a certain amount of the money to the cemetery association for the care of the grounds. This was done, it is told, with but one exception, Mr. Alvin SMITH, of Emporia, refused to remove his sons body. A search by this genealogical committee could not locate a monument to the grave, so is it presumed the body lies under one of the cultivated fields near by.

The Fast Quaker branch, later built a new church across the road and a short distance west of the old Meeting House, and still maintains a church organization.

Of this first church we quote from an article, "Early Historical Reminiscences", written by F. L. HODGSON, who as a boy in the sixties, lived in the neighborhood and went to the church school and religious meetings. "A graveyard lay to the north of the house and both house and yard were enclosed by a board fence. South of the house and built into the fence was a platform almost as high as a wagon and when Father drove the wagon alongside, Mother and sister stepped out on the platform, down the steps on the inside and there you were. No tangling of long skirts." Mr. HODGSON refers to a so-called stile, we can safely guess. To continue, "The Quakers idea of a gravestone was a plain marble slab about eighteen inches high. Other people buried in the Quaker yard and one man put in atone about three feet high. This was too much for some of the brothers and someone broke the stone off about the proper height and laid the broken top at the foot of the grave." The present condition of the cemetery shows the majority of stones, slab in form and not more than two feet above ground. There are now many large monuments.

The article "Early Historical Reminiscences", by Mr. HODGSON contains some information concerning the expense of burials in the 1860's and 70's that should be a part of the history of the Cottonwood Cemetery. "Preparing for burial, nothing; digging of grave, nothing; cost of walnut coffin one to four dollars; hearse, nothing. The body lowered into its last resting-place with lines taken from the harness of some team present. The grave was filled with earth and rounded and the task complete with but small actual expense." Concerning a funeral service, Mr. HODGSON writes, "The most impressive funeral service I ever attended was in this old meeting house. {Reference is to the first Cottonwood Church} One cold, bleak afternoon we met to lay away a little neighbor girl. No word had been spoken. The silence of death prevailed for some time. Out of the silence the sweet voice of Mary ROGERS {an early day evangelist who lived with her family in a home near the house} arose singing that beautiful hymn 'The Home of the Soul'. She sang it through, then another silences and the little homemade walnut coffin was laid to rest."

The cemetery is laid out in rows rather than the usual family lot style. In the near center of the plot is a beautiful elm tree that was a sapling in 1872, which now caused the rows to vary some.

The first deaths marked on tombstones in Cottonwood Cemetery, are those of John HODSON who died December 1, 1858; Silas COX, December 8, 1861 and Nancy J. MOON who died September 6, 1862.

The Plat was drawn up in August of 1887, and recorded with the register of deeds in Emporia, Kansas, September 6, 1900, with A. B. MOON as President; Rebecca T. THOMPSON, Secretary; James STOUT, Treasurer.

There is a "Friends" Church in the City of Emporia, Kansas, whose members are usually taken to the Cottonwood Cemetery for burial.

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Cottonwood (Friends) Cemetery, north of Highway 50 at Road E5, Emporia, KS

Cottonwood Friends Church (Church website)

Cottonwood Cemetery Plot Map
Old Plot Map, East
Old Plot Map, West

The sources of information are from

     D.A.R. Readings in the 1940's
     Flint Hills Genealogical Society Readings in 1989
     Flint Hills Genealogical Society Readings and photos in 2010

Mistakes may have been made, but every effort was made to make out the information on the stones.
Not all headstones may be still be standing, as there have been some vandalism and natural forces through the years.

Anytime there are any new stones, engravings or obituaries, this web page will be updated.

Cottonwood Cemetery Headstone Readings

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Last Updated Friday, 01-Jan-2021 09:46:17 MST

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