In 1865, Mr. Watts Beckwith—a prominent Olathe businessman—had decided he’d had enough of it and took it upon himself to set aside ten acres of his land for a cemetery. He didn’t wait for the approval of the city either. The first burial in the cemetery was his sister, Elvira Beckwith, who passed away the same year Beckwith established the cemetery.
It wasn’t until the railroad right-of-way cut through the original cemetery at “Church Square” that it became necessary to move those graves to the present location. This is why several stones in the cemetery bear dates earlier than 1865. No trace remains today of the “Church Square” burial grounds, though its history has been quite literally transplanted here.
The cemetery is filled with people who established new lives in Kansas during Westward Expansion. Not far from Elvira Beckwith’s monument is a stone marked ‘Alger and Nelson’ who were two families of settlers who came in 1859 by covered wagon. Also nearby is a monument marking the Reverend I.C. Beach, Olathe’s first minister, and his sons A.D. and Edward who were two of Olathe’s earliest physicians.
Two Kansas governors are also buried in the cemetery. John Pierce St. John and George H. Hodges. St. John was governor for two terms, 1878 and 1880. In 1884, St. John was a candidate for President on the prohibition ticket. St. John received so many votes in New York State that the Republican candidate, James G. Blaine, was defeated and Grover Cleveland was elected.