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Lindenwood Cemetery ca. 1920
By Randy Harter
Fort Wayne Reader
The city fathers determined in 1859 that the Broadway or “City” Cemetery which had been developed in 1837 was too small to continue serving the growing community’s needs and that a larger non-sectarian cemetery was required for our city of then 10,000 people. As a result, twelve leading citizens purchased the initial 152 acres of virgin forest, marsh, and scrub and named it Lindenwood Cemetery due to all the Linden trees that then occupied the property.
When the development of Lindenwood was ready to commence, John H. Dowsell was appointed the superintendent and supervising landscape architect. He designed the cemetery in the style of the 18th century English “picturesque” tradition with rolling hills, sunken gardens, water features, grottos, and expansive vistas giving the cemetery an idealized picture like quality.
The first burial took place in 1860 and also beginning that year, and ending in 1886, the deceased from the old Broadway cemetery were disinterred and reburied at Lindenwood except the remains of the state’s seventh governor, Samual Bigger as no family members we available to approve the move. In addition, as no one was sure where his grave was located, William Polke, one of the 43 delegates from the Indiana Territory to the 1816 Indiana Constitutional Convention was also left behind, and was finally rediscovered and given a headstone as part of Allen County’s Indiana Bicentennial activities last year. In 1886 the old Broadway Cemetery was then donated to the city by Hugh and Susan McCulloch for use as a public park, and thus became McCulloch Park. It’s considered likely that in additional remains still lie below the grassy park surface in unmarked graves.
Until the late 1870’s the Wabash & Erie Canal ran parallel and along the south side of the section of West Main that is across from the cemetery. This necessitated a swing bridge being constructed across the canal east of the cemetery to allow access for funerals and visitors from the city.
A walk through Lindenwood today is to see a list of familiar city streets and parks as the interred include such last names as those of Capt. Asa Fairfield, William Pettit, Jr., Laura Suttenfield, David Foster, John Franke, Samuel Hanna, Pliny Hoagland, William Pettit, Henry Rudisill, William Rockhill, Col. Thomas Swinney, Theodore Thieme, Judge William Vesey, Jesse Williams, David Colerick, Joseph Nuttman, Samuel Edsall, Col. George Ewing, Joseph Brackenridge, Fred Eckart, Olaf Guldlin, and Allen Hamilton among the over 72,000 other interred deceased.