In 1791 surveyor Charles McClung staked out 16 blocks containing 64 half-acre lots that would become the frontier town of Knoxville. An additional survey in 1795 established 56 more lots, with two of the new lots designated as the site for a graveyard. By 1812 this acre of land also became the location of First Presbyterian Church. Although 1800 is the earliest death date inscribed on a tombstone in the cemetery, the site may have been used by the pioneers as a community burying ground as early as 1786 when James White’s fort was built.
Among those buried in the church graveyard are James White, the founder of Knoxville; Rev. Samuel Carrick, our first minister; Hugh Lawson White, a candidate for U.S. President in 1836; territorial governor William Blount; and Col. John Williams, a member of Congress. The graveyard is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The graveyard at First Presbyterian Church was used to inter the citizens of Knoxville for 79 years. The oldest grave is that of territorial governor William Blount who died March 21, 1800. Although an 1857 city ordnance prohibited further burials, the last interment in the graveyard was for James Bell who died April 29, 1879.
Several sites on the Internet refer to the historical nature of the church’s graveyard. The listings for William Blount (page 1), Hugh Lawson White (page 3), and Col. John Williams (page 3) have links to their biography pages in the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
You can read the names and tombstone inscriptions by clicking on the link below:
Other Web sites with information about our church’s graveyard and prominent
individuals buried there may be reached using the following links:
The Political Graveyard
Wikipedia – First Presbyterian Church Cemetery
Unless otherwise specified, the marker photographs within the First Presbyterian Church website were taken on October 6th, 2012.