Our History

As one of the oldest and most historic cemeteries in Linn County, Oak Hill Cemetery is full of interesting stories. Many of the names that have become so familiar to the City of Cedar Rapids are found here.

Walk through our grounds and you’ll find the names we associate with streets and parks such as Bever, Daniels, Greene, Ellis, and Shaver.

You’ll also see names we associate with past and present business and industry, college libraries and auditoriums, and people who influenced other social, spiritual, educational and artistic changes in the community. Carmody, Collins, Cherry, Douglas, Dows, Ely, Hall, Hubbard, Sinclair, Stewart, Stuart, and Upton are just a few of the most notable.

Oak Hill has become the final resting place for these people, as well as so many other families who lived, worked and helped to shape this community.

The Early Years

Soon after Cedar Rapids was chartered as a town in 1852, land development to the east threatened to overtake the small Village (or Washington) Cemetery located at Eighth Street and Fifth Avenue SE. The decision was made to relocate those graves to a new Oak Hill Cemetery—on a tract of land considered to be outside the city—beginning in 1856. The new cemetery included a “potter’s field,” which is now City Cemetery owned by the City of Cedar Rapids Parks Department.

Operated at first as a for-profit cemetery, Oak Hill was soon reorganized, with additional land, as Oak Hill Cemetery Association, a non-profit organization. The original Association members were John Weare, George Greene, Dr. John F. Ely, S. C. Bever, N. B. Brown, William Greene, Charles Weare, A. C. Churchill, and Gabriel Carpenter.

Expanding & Improving

In 1908, the cemetery proudly announced the addition of “a handsome entrance of art iron with walls of field stones and a station house.” Some of the stones for the wall were reportedly brought into town by local farmers. A “receiving vault” near the entrance was used through at least 1918 when conditions did not allow for burial, family members had to travel long distances, or ownership of a lot was in question. An artificial lake also graced the grounds for many years.

Our Historic Legacy

Explore Your Place in History

As noted above, the rich history of Oak Hill Cemetery lies in the stories and legacies of those buried here, including many founding pioneers and influential citizens.

To learn more about this history of the cemetery and its occupants: