Prior to the formation of Cowley County, burials were performed on public land.

After the formation of Cowley County, burials were performed on privately owned land. A farmer, for instance, could bury friends and relatives on his farm.

As towns formed, persons rented living space or owned town lots. Towns could not allow burial on town lots. Somebody had to create cemeteries for the use of town residents.

Arkansas City Republican, February 19, 1887. Headstones for Soldiers.

By an act of congress dated August 4, 1886, the quartermaster’s department at Washington was authorized to furnish headstones for all unmarked graves of deceased Union soldiers, sailors or marines, either of the regular or volunteer army; and whether they died after their muster out or discharge. The stones are to be of white marble, thirty-six inches long, ten inches wide, and four inches thick, and are to be inscribed with the name, age, date of death, regiment and company of the deceased. The stones will be delivered at the nearest railroad station, freight free. But the person sending the requisition to the department must agree to receive the stones and see that they are properly set up without any further cost to the government.

I, having received the proper requisitions from the department at Washington, would request (and urge) all who have a father, husband, son, brother, comrade, whose last resting place is not marked, to avail themselves of this kind tribute of the soldiers’ friend—the government. I would include all soldiers’ unmarked graves at Riverview, Parker’s, and Mercer cemeteries. We want these headstones placed in before Decoration Day. So please come with the requisites and vouchers, as set forth, to me at once.

G. W. MILLER, Quartermaster, Arkansas City Post No. 158.



The land on which the cemetery north of Winfield is located was claimed by W. G. Graham and deeded to him by the United States Government.

May 20, 1872, was the date of incorporation of a "Winfield Cemetery Association." The incorporators were James Sand, W. H. H. Morris, W. W. Boyer, J. C. Blandin, O. F. Boyle, S. C. Smith, J. W. Owens, G. Triplett and J. B. Fairbank. It bought land from W. G. and Mrs. W. G. (Fannie) Graham in the northeast part of Winfield. This land is now part of the "Graham" Cemetery. Nov 13, 1879 - The line of the east and west railroad runs through the north cemetery, and yesterday the association was engaged in removing the bodies from that part of the ground condemned for railroad purposes.

On April 29, 1894, the "Winfield Cemetery Association" platted land south of their cemetery for expansion cemetery use. They approached Dr. W. G. Graham to purchase this land and Dr. Graham refused.

The Winfield Cemetery Association got a bill passed by the Kansas Legislature to allow cemetery associations to condemn adjoining land. Mr. H. E. Silliman said "Precedent to condemning, it was required that a demand be made on the owner. When such demand was made, Dr. Graham informed them that he was not owner of the land in question, but that it was already a cemetery. Now as the law made no provision for one cemetery association condemning from another some suspicioned that Dr. Graham took that plan to head off the Union Association, but as his fixed purpose in 1869 was to find a graveyard it so much ante—dates the other that I must believe that was the reason for founding his cemetery."

Another "Winfield Cemetery Association" was incorporated on October 17, 1906. The incorporators were J. N. Harter, Joseph O'Hare, J. E. Jarvis, J. S. Mann, W. C. Root, T. A. Parker, James McLain, B. B. Lynn and E. S. Bedilion.



On November 29, 1898, Mrs. W. G. (Fannie) Graham sold this land to the "Cowley Union Cemetery Association." The deed was also signed by W. G. Graham.

The Kansas State Historical Society reports that "Cowley Union Cemetery Association" was incorporated on February 28, 1898. W. G. Graham, J. O. Graham, E. R. Graham, T. P. Graham and L. W. Graham were incorporators.

In August of 1930 additional adjacent property was purchased for the Graham—Union Cemetery.

In April of 1933 the street of Michigan was paved to the Graham—Union Cemetery.

In April of 1953 Miss Helen Graham sold a tract of land north and west of Graham Cemetery to the City.



Formerly Valley View Cemetery and Winfield Public Burial Grounds. The land on which the cemetery south of Winfield is located was claimed by Andrew J. Covert and deeded to him by the United States Government.

From the beginning of Winfield, E. C. Manning and W. G. Graham had differences of opinion (which included politics). Perhaps this is the reason Mrs. Manning, who died February 20, 1873, was buried south of town rather than in the Winfield Cemetery. Mrs. Manning was buried on land owned by Andrew J. Covert that is now part of Highland Cemetery. There is no documentary evidence showing where she was buried.

The December 9, 1873 Courier printed the following; "A FRAUD. There is a petition in circulation in town asking the city council to purchase the present cemetery. Spot it! Don't sign it! And those who have signed it should erase their names therefrom. Winfield and vicinity needs a cemetery, but it don't want any stock or interest in the one under consideration. Graves cannot be dug in it without striking solid rock. The land slopes to the west and south, and bodies buried as they are with their feet to the east have the appearance of laying with their hands down hill. The enterprise was started as a private speculation, and failing in this, they seek to have the public take it off their hands. It is to be hoped that the Council will not heed their petition." (NOTE - I believe this was about land that is now the Highland Cemetery. RKW)

On February 19, 1874, Andrew J. Covert sold his 160 acres, less 8.48 acres which held the mill site and flouring mill of Tunnel Mill, to Ira E. Moore.

On December 10, 1874 the Courier ran the following article. "Ira F. Moore, who owns the beautiful bluff immediately south of town, and across the Walnut, intends to lay it off in burial lots for a cemetery. It is a very delightful location, and will be very popular with our people."

On December 17, 1874 the Courier ran this article. "In company with Mr. Ira C. Moore, we yesterday paid a visit to the new cemetery, situated just south of the Tunnel Mills. There we found our able county surveyor, Wirt W. Walton, busily engaged laying off the ground into lots. The plat contains about twelve acres, and is certainly one of the most beautiful spots, for a public burying ground, to be found in Cowley county. The plat is a beautiful design.

On December 24, 1874 the Courier ran the following article. "Ira Moore offers to give a lot in his new cemetery to the first person who shall be buried therein. Now is your chance to get something gratis. You can only die once, remember, and you might just as well make something while you're at it."

On January 14, 1875 the Courier reported the City council meeting of December 21, 1874. At that meeting Messrs. C. A. Bliss and Enoch Maris appeared and asked the council to make provision for the purchasing of a lot in the cemetery grounds for the use of the city, in pursuance of which, it was moved and seconded that a committee of three, consisting of S. Darrah, R. B. Saffold, and H. S. Silver be appointed to confer with the cemetery committee in regard to purchasing a part or the whole of said cemetery. Motion carried.

The Winfield Courier of February 11, 1875 reported "Mr. Ira Moore, the owner of the Valley View cemetery, has donated the city of Winfield a portion of said cemetery, to be used as a potters field."

On February 15, 1875, Ira E. Moore deeded to the city of Winfield an area consisting of 188 square feet called "Valley View Cemetery." The legal description for this cemetery follows. "Beginning at a point 40 feet north of the south line and 1831 feet west of the Southeast corner of the Northwest quarter of Section 33, Township 32, south range 4 east (being the southwest corner of Valley View Cemetery); thence North 188 feet; thence East 188 feet; thence South 188 feet; thence west 188 feet to the place of beginning, containing 4/5 of an acre." In conveyances after that, "Except ground already sold of the tract set aside for a cemetery" appeared. Each following owner sold "lots" in the cemetery and kept the proceeds.

E. C. Manning was publishing the Winfield Courier November 30, 1876 when the following article was printed. "A plat of Valley View Cemetery, situated on Moore's Hill, immediately south of town, is hanging in the post office. Parties desiring to purchase lots therein can obtain information concerning location, prices, etc., by applying at this office. The lots will be sold very low and "on time" that will suit purchasers."

The Valley View Cemetery plat was made prior to January 1, 1880. (This plat was not found in the office of the Cowley County Registrar of Deeds.) This cemetery is now included in Highland Cemetery. There is a portion of land included in the Highland Cemetery plat that is labeled as "Winfield public burial ground", but it is not exactly where "Valley View Cemetery" was located.

"Valley View" was not well known as the name of the old cemetery. It was generally referred to as the "south" cemetery. High as it was in altitude it was "looked down upon" by the thoughtless. A few pioneer families in the township had lots there and burials took place occasionally. But it was generally neglected. One lone pine tree persisted on the lot where the first Mrs. Manning was buried. A 1903 letter refers to the old south cemetery as the first burying ground and the eldest headstone bears the date 1873. A 1904 letter says " I understand there is not a hearse in Winfield that will go to this cemetery, and I do not blame them as the road is in a very bad condition and well nigh impassable for a single rig." A "letter to the editor" about 1910 suggested the place be called "Lone Tree" cemetery.

Valley View cemetery continued an orphan until in 1905 another cemetery association was formed with the name "Highland Cemetery Association." E. C. Manning was the moving force behind the "Highland Cemetery Association" and was elected Secretary. The "Highland Cemetery Association" was incorporated on February 17, 1906. Edwin C. Manning, Daniel B. McCollum, Charles W. Roberts, Charles F. Holmes and T. B. Myers were the incorporators.

Col. Manning built a private vault for himself and his wife. He set aside $1,000 to be a scholarship in Southwestern college for a student who would take care of this vault. But the Highland mausoleum project came along and the colonel took up with it and the private vault was out. The vault is now unused.

The balance of the 160 acres, south of town, went through several hands until it was owned by Charles F. Holmes. On February 21, 1906, Charles F. Holmes deeded a portion of this land to the "Highland Cemetery Association." The legal description follows: "Commencing at a point on the south line of the Northwest quarter of Section 33, township 32, south of Range 4 east, 706 feet west of the Southeast corner of said Northwest quarter; thence north 8 degrees and 20 minutes west 257 feet to a point; thence north 10 degrees and 0 minutes west 221 feet to a point; thence north 64 degrees west 1226 feet to a point; thence south 1 degree 35 minutes east 995 feet to a point on south line of said northwest quarter; thence east on said south line 1150 feet to beginning and to be known as Highland Cemetery."

On November 20, 1906, a plat of this land for cemetery use was filed. When looking at the Highland Cemetery plat, it is apparent that the cemetery is laid out in an orderly manner to take advantage of the lay of the land with one exception. This exception consists of a diamond-shaped area in the middle of one road. The road has to bend around this area, which is called lot 52 in the Diamond Division.

On January 9, 1907, E. C. Manning bought lot 52 in the Diamond Division from the Highland Cemetery Association. This is where the tombstones of Mrs. E. C. Manning (who died and was buried in 1873) and Benjamin Manning (who died and was buried in 1885) are located. A letter from E. C. Manning, who was residing in Washington, D.C., at the time, exists in which he asks that Benjamin be buried on the south side of his mother. From this we deduce that this is the actual place of burial of Mrs. E. C. Manning and Benjamin Manning. However, these tombstones were not placed until 1945.

An interesting point is that Valley View Cemetery's west edge started at 1831 and feet west of the southeast corner of Covert's land. The west edge of Highland Cemetery starts at 1856 feet west of the southeast corner of Covert's land. The plat of Highland Cemetery dated November 20, 1906, shows the area previously called "Valley View Cemetery" is now labeled "Winfield public burying ground." Since then Highland Cemetery acquired the land in that quarter section lying to the west of the original Highland Cemetery.

In his autobiography, published in 1911, Mr. E. C. Manning stated the following. "In the year 1872 about fifteen acres of ground lying on top of the bluff across the Walnut river south of Winfield was devoted to cemetery purposes and laid out in lots picturesquely platted. About two hundred interments followed, but owing to the fact that the land and adjacent property got into the hands of other owners and was left open to stock ranging, and there was a very bad road to get to the same, the cemetery fell into disuse and decay. In February, 1906, I organized the Highland Cemetery Association. Several citizens subscribed enough stock to purchase the ground and about fifteen acres additional, and to fence and make additional lots to the plat. Since that time, by the generous act of Mr. P. H. Albright, twenty acres of fine land have been added to the tract on the west. It is such a beautiful and ideal location that in time I believe it will become a favorite resort and resting place for the dead. I have erected a permanent repository there as a last resting place for my present wife and myself, on the brow of the bluff overlooking Winfield and the river and valley; and have set aside one thousand dollars in my will with which to endow a perpetual scholarship in the Southwestern College at Winfield, the beneficiary thereof to be charged with the care of my final retreat." (note - Mrs Linnie Hall Manning died October 16, 1915 and E. C. Manning died December 11, 1915. The private mausoleum stands empty while their mortal remains are interred in the large public mausoleum.)

In 1919 the Santa Fe announced plans to improve the south end of its bridge across the Walnut river. P.H. Albright started a drive to have an opening of this span made into an underpass for a Highland cemetery road. Several problems were involved and solved.

In February of 1920, the City of Winfield bought land from a Mr. Cochran (for $3,600) for an addition to Highland Cemetery.

In March of 1922, 34 rods of stone fence were built on the south edge of Highland Cemetery at $18.00 per rod.

In April of 1922 Mr. Mitchler sold a triangular piece of land to Highland Cemetery for $100.00.

In January of 1965, Mr. Powell sold the city 92.77 acres of land for Highland Cemetery purposes. This is the land south of the road.



In earlier times the Catholic Church bought and consecrated land to use for their burials. The Church first consecrated land on the Matthew Gessler farm, one mile west of Winfield. The first burial recorded was in September of 1874. It was reported in the Traveler on November 22, 1882 that The Roman Catholics of this county have purchased a site for a cemetery, consisting of five acres of land one and one-half miles east of Winfield, for which they paid $50 per acre. The money has been raised by subscription. This land is on East Twelfth Street. They moved the bodies there and this became the "Saint Mary's Catholic cemetery." This restriction of Catholics being buried on consecrated ground had been relaxed and so the Church deeded "St. Mary's Cemetery" to Winfield in March of 1941.


The Winfield State Hospital and training center established a cemetery for their residents on the hospital grounds. The first burial took place in 1911. Because of the, then current, stigma of confinement the grave stones were only identified by number. Now the numbered stones have been replaced with the persons name and dates of birth and death.


The "Winfield Cemetery Association", the "Graham-Union Cemetery Association" and the "Highland Cemetery Association" deeded their land to the City of Winfield for public maintenance in June of 1918.

Highland Cemetery is located south of Winfield, west of Highway 77, and south of the Walnut River.

Graham—Union Cemetery is located north of the intersection of Olive Street and Michigan Street, on the west side of Michigan Street.

St. Mary's Cemetery is located in the eighteen hundred block of East Twelfth Street, on the north side of the street.


This information was originally compiled by Jeanette Nichols, aided by Gale Bunner and Mrs. Jerry Case . It has been revised by Richard Kay Wortman on August 22, 1996.

Winfield Courier, June 12, 1884.

Our Cemetery.

The annual meeting of the lot owners of the cemetery was held at Dr. Graham’s office Friday evening. The secretary’s report shows a balance of about five hundred dollars in the treasury. This state of the finances is very gratifying to all. For years the balance has always been the other way, and the public spirited citizens who formed the directory were forced to carry it.

The following persons were elected as directors for the coming year: Messrs. R. E. Wallis, Dr. Perry, W. G. Graham, H. Brotherton, H. S. Silver, H. D. Gans, Mrs. J. E. Platter, Mrs. Robert Beeney, and Mrs. Ed. P. Greer.

The directory has gone actively to work formulating plans for the improvement and beautifying of the grounds. In this work they hope to receive the hearty cooperation of everyone interested. Our cemetery should be made an attractive place and no matter how hard the directory may work to this end, they cannot succeed unless each individual will take hold and assist by improving their lots.

The revenues of the cemetery arise from the sale of lots. These are twelve dollars each. There are 228 sold and 475 yet remaining. A regular sexton is employed and the charge for digging graves is fixed at two, three, and four dollars. The great need of the cemetery at present is water for irrigating purposes. They hope to get this in time.

Winfield Courier, June 19, 1884.

Our Cemetery.

The directors of the Winfield Cemetery Association, desirous of taking active measures for the improvement of its grounds, find it a primal necessity that there should be a supply of water for irrigating and sprinkling purposes. To provide this, they wish to raise by subscription at least $300, with which they can procure an ample supply. In the absence of the Secretary, I would request you to give notice, that at a meeting of the directors, Mrs. Platter, Mrs. Benney, and Dr. Perry were appointed a committee to solicit subscriptions payable on or before the first of August next. By the terms of our charter, the receipts of the association are to be expended in the care and improvement of the ground and none of its officers are to receive compensation for their services. We hope that thee will be a hearty response to our call for aid to make our Cemetery an attractive place and a credit to our city.