HISTORY OF RICHWOOD CEMETERY
Richwood Cemetery was originally a church cemetery, belonging to Richwood Presbyterian Church, and for its members and their families. Richwood Church was founded in 1834 by thirteen members. In 1842 William Mosley sold land to Richwood Church for the building of a church which was completed in 1844. A cemetery was part of the church grounds. The first burial in the cemetery was George Michael Bedinger, son of Major George Michael Bedinger, who died of cholera at Big Bone in 1833. In 1880 Dr. Benjamin Franklin Bedinger, another son of Major George Michael Bedinger, donated money for the purchase of ten and a half acres of land for a parsonage and for an additional one acre of land to extend the cemetery to Richwood Road to the east. This section is now designated Section C.
Richwood Cemetery separated from Richwood Church in 1930 and became a community cemetery. The Articles of Incorporation of the Richwood Cemetery Association was dated April, 1930. The members of the first Board of Trustees were Edward J. Collins, J. M. Lassing, John S. Taylor, Katherine Bedinger, and Benjamin Franklin Bedinger. On August 31, 1930 the Board of Trustees met and elected the following officers: Edward J Collins, President; John S. Taylor, Vice President and General Manager; and Benjamin Franklin Bedinger, Secretary Treasurer.
Prior to 1930 burials in Richwood Cemetery were of church members and their family members. The community standard was to bury non church members, free and enslaved, in family cemeteries on the farms where they lived and worked.
There is no record of any slaves buried in Richwood Cemetery. A member of the Sleet family, Mary Sleet Sechrest, was the first African American to be buried in Richwood Cemetery. This was in 1933 after the cemetery became a community cemetery. Burials of African Americans were identified as ‘colored’ in the cemetery Burial Record.
The lower part of the cemetery by the stone wall and directly to the east of the church was designated a ‘Potter’s Field” for the burial of persons unable to purchase a burial space. There are no tombstones in this section.
The part of the cemetery between the church and the cemetery road to the east was for the burial of children. The many small tombstones in this area have disappeared in recent years and thought to have been stolen as they were found missing after Halloween.
Reverend Joseph C. Harrison, the founding minister of Richwood Church, and his wife Sophia Rice Harrison, granddaughter of Reverend David Rice, the founder of the first Presbyterian churches in Kentucky, are buried in Richwood Cemetery.
All of the founding Trustees of the Richwood Cemetery are buried in the Cemetery: B. F. Bedinger, E. T. Collins, J. M. Lassing, Katherine Bedinger, and J. S. Taylor. The Bedingers and their descendants constitute the largest number of burials in Richwood Cemetery.