Pioneer Cemetery
Lawrence, Kansas

Pioneer Cemetery is located on the grounds of the University of Kansas, specifically on West Campus near the Highway 59 overpass in Lawrence, Kansas. This cemetery contains burials from the settlement period of the city’s history.


New England settlers originally called this cemetery “Oread,” and the first burial was only a few weeks after the first settlers arrived. In 1855, pro-slavery supporters killed Thomas W. Barber, an immigrant from Ohio, and his death was given national attention. John Greenleaf Whittier wrote a poem, “Burial of Barber,” which immortalized the incident. Elmer McCollum, a UK biochemist that was involved in the discovery of Vitmin A is also buried in the cemetery. The cemetery was the original burial site of most of the Quantrill’s Raid victims who were buried in a mass grave.

A number of forgotton grave markers and memorial stones were uncovered in July of 2006 by a lanscaping crew from the University just planninng to clean up the site a little. Among the was the to the long-missing gravestone of Walter B.S. Griswold, a young Union recruit killed during William Quantrill’s murderous Aug. 21, 1863, raid on Lawrence.

Other markers located included:

• Carl C. Rau gravestone — Rau was an early German settler in Douglas County. Dated Nov. 4, 1855, his gravestone, inscribed in German, is one of the earliest extant in Kansas.

• John Oliver gravestone — Oliver died in Lawrence in 1861. This stone was placed in Pioneer Cemetery by his granddaughter, Hannah Oliver, a survivor of Quantrill’s Raid.

• Monument to the Unknown Union Dead of the Civil War — A project of the Grand Army of the Republic, this obelisk was dedicated in 1906, marking the 40th anniversary of the end of the war. Some of the brick-and-stucco monument was visible before the brush was cleared.

• A large piecr of carved quartzite on a stone base which bears the name of the cemetety.

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