Ross Cemetery at Park Hill, OK.
This is the historical marker located near the front of the cemetery
Ross Cemetery began in 1842 with the burial of John McDonald Ross, so of Lewis and Frances Ross and the nephew of Cherokee Principle Chief John Ross. He was 21 years old at the time of his death and had returned home after graduating as valedictorian from Princeton University in New Jersey. The land, which became Ross Cemetery, was given to him and on his deathbed he requested that he be buried there. His gravestone is an ornate monument with a broken column meant to represent his shortened life.
Over the years, members of the Ross family and other notable Cherokees joined him in this final resting place on top of a hill overlooking a beautiful valley and creek. Most members of the Ross family are interred in an area enclosed by a limestone and iron fence. Originally, the four corners were topped with lead spheres, but these were scavenged during the Civil War to make bullets. Some of the finials were taken as well and are still missing today. There are fourteen marked graves inside the enclosure.
Probably the most notable person buried in Ross Cemetery is John Ross, Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828 to 1866. John Ross led his people through some of their darkest days as a tribe, including the forced relocation, known as the Trail of Tears, and the Civil War. Ross died in Washington, D.C., in 1866 and was buried next to his wife in Delaware. In 1867, the Cherokee National Council had his body moved to Ross Cemetery and erected a tall granite obelisk to mark his resting place. A cast bronze marker on his grave commemorates his service in the War of 1812.
In 2001, it was estimated there were 531 known graves in the cemetery, some of which are unmarked. Many of the graves hold descendants of John Ross and his siblings, tenant farmers of the Ross estate, or members of the surrounding community. The graves are arranged in irregular rows running north to south and are oriented from east to west.
Notable Cherokee graves in the cemetery include:
Lewis Ross – Brother of Principle Chief John Ross, Lewis was a member of the Cherokee Nation executive and judicial branches at various times in his career. His grave is inside the Ross family enclosure and is marked with a metal plaque commemorating his journey over the Trail of Tears.
Riley Keys – A Cherokee Old Settler who came west to Indian Territory before the Trail of Tears, Keys established a farm in the area. At various times he served the Nation as Executive Councilor of the Cherokee Senate, a Supreme Court justice and also a chief justice. His gravestone bears a Masonic emblem. He is buried beside his wife, Minerva, who came to Indian Territory during the forced removal.
Reverend Walter A. Duncan – Born in the Cherokee Nation in the East, Duncan came along the Trail of Tears at age 12. He became a Methodist minister and a teacher. During the Civil War, he was a circuit rider. He helped organize and served as superintendent of the Cherokee National Orphanage. He also served on several delegations to Washington.
Kate A. L. C. Duncan – The wife of Reverend Walter A. Duncan, she taught at the Cherokee Orphanage and at the Cherokee Female Seminary. She was appointed the first regent of Indian Territory for the Daughters of the American Revolution, and a cast bronze marker is on her grave commemorates this honor.
Mary Golda Ross – Mary Ross was the first female engineer hired by aeronautical giant Lockheed Aircraft. During her long career, she helped develop military planes, conducted aerospace research, participated in space technology, helped plan manned trips to Venus, Mars, and other planets, and helped build missile defense. Her research was instrumental in the development of the Agena rockets, the first successfully launched space vehicle and forerunner of the Apollo program.
Other Trail of Tears survivors buried in Ross Cemetery include:
Benjamin Cooper King, Andrew Ross Nave, Eliza Jane Ross, George Washington Ross, Nannie Otterlifter Ross, Jane Meigs Ross Nave, Elizabeth Ross, John Golden Ross, and Minerva Nave Keys.
Ross Cemetery is still used as a burial ground today; with the newer graves located around the periphery of the cemetery.
This is the original Ross plot that is located in the center of the Ross Cemetery in Park Hill, OK.
The following are those that reside inside this plot.
John McDonald Ross
Lewis and Frances Ross
Head Principle of the Cherokee Nation.
A Graduate of the College
at Princeton N.J.
Near Calhoun, Tenn.
Nov 15th 1820
Sept 19th 1841
Aged 21 years 9 months
In this photo you can see some of the missing finials along the top of the fence.
William P. and Mary J.
Born April 19, 1852
Died April 3, 1853
Wm P. and Mary J.
Sept 25, 1859
Aug 27, 1860
Caroline F. Ross
Born September 27, 1853
Died September 23, 1854
Born February 26, 1852
Died September 3, 1852
Note: Ida is the daughter of John Ross and Louisa Catherine Means Ross.
Wife of Lewis Ross
Born June 1, 1789
Died Oct 12, 1860
Feb'y 26, 1796
Febuary 15, 1870
Frances Daniel Thornton
Nov 17, 1847
Dec 31, 1928
1 SGT Co F
May 12, 1930
Theses two photos are of Fannie and Robert Ross.
Photos contributed by Robert Bruce Ross IV.
Walter E. Duncan
1880 - 1958
Note: He married Frances "Fannie" Vann Ross.
Frances Ross Duncan
1879 - 1938
Note: Daughter of Robert Bruce (Bob) Ross and Fannie Daniel Thornton
To the Memory of
wife of George M. Murrell
and daughter of
Lewis and Frances Ross
Who departed this life
January 14, 1855
Aged 36 years 11 months
and 19 days
This is a portrait of Minerva Murrell.
Photo Courtesy of http://www.okhistory.org/outreach/homes/mh/history.html.
Oct 24, 1844
Sept 13, 1873
Anne Ross Piburn
Apr 4, 1892 - Nov 26, 1960
Note: Daughter of Robert Bruce Ross and Fannie Daniel Thornton Ross.
She married in 1921 in Germany, Gen. Edwin William Piburn.
Portrait of Anne Piburn.
Photo contributed by Robert Bruce Ross IV.