James McKeehen and his wife, Catherine McKeehen, are buried on the land they once owned and donated for use of citizens in the community as a burying ground. It is believed that the oldest marked grave is that of Alida Collins, wife of Charles Collins, who died May 20, 1868, followed by Cora Collins, August 20, 1868, and Eliza, daughter of Robert and R. Orr who died October 8, 1868. There is a small tablet type stone nearby bearing the inscription: Ezra E died April 18, 1879, aged 12 years, 9 days and Edward E died April 2, 1869, aged 4 years, 9 months, 7 days, children of Ezra E and Roda Hubbel. It appears that records were methodically kept for the Tonganoxie Cemetery; but in the early days proper records were not always kept. As a result, many graves were lost, people buried two deep and not uncommon to strike a rough box when digging a new grave.

In June, 1888, a meeting was held of the lot owners for the purpose of incorporating the cemetery. E. Hubbel was elected Chairman and C.O. Olsted, Secretary. R. Metz was appointed to wait on the Probate Judge and ascertain the best way to proceed in Incorporating. In October, 1888, the cemetery was in a condition that was a disgrace to the community so James McKeehen, assisted by a number of citizens, cut off all the timber and undergrowth, burned all the weeds and otherwise improved the place. It was felt if people would put in a few days work at the cemetery each year, it could be one of the most beautiful in the country as it was in an excellent location. For many years, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Cemetery Association cleaned and took care of the cemetery. Their methods of using hand sickles and scythes were a far cry from the power mowers and grass trimmers that are used today.

In 1889, the Tonganoxie Cemetery was dedicated. R.W. “Bob” Freeman, who resigned April 8, 1942, as Chairman of the Trustees of the Tonganoxie Cemetery Association had the plat of the cemetery and at the bottom was an extract from the dedication with the notation “168 burial lots, 16 feet square, with a 4-foot alley on each side, November 16, 1889. Filed in the Office of the Register of Deeds, December 10, 1889. Signed, James and Catherine McKeehen.” They gave more land after the original plat was laid out.

When Mr. McKeehen gave the original ground, the old road went straight over the hill and was almost inaccessible. He said he would give the land if a new road around the hill south was built. The ground on the south was so rocky that graves could not be dug so in 1930 the Association purchased a half-acre from a man by the name of Commons who lived at the curve of the road. In 1940, the Association purchased 2 ½ acres on the west from Archie Knox; and in 1954, 3 acres were purchased on the far west from Melvin Kodas. The purchase price $750. The first person to be buried in Section 4 was the former Town Marshall, Clarence “Katz” Love.

In November, 1889, work commenced on the road south around the hill, and a good number of farmers gave their time to work on this worthy cause. This road was an improvement over the old one going up and over “Hubbel Hill”; but proved to be almost impassible at times. Mr. and Mrs. Ezra Hubbel lived on the property situated just north of Highway 16 and approx. one-half way up Hubbel Hill. It was recorded October, 1940, that the County Commissioners approved the vacation of that part of the Cox Change of the Knight Road running through the Hubbel Hill Cemetery and connecting with the Turner Road. The now existing Highway 16 is approximately in the same location as the original road that went up and over “Hubbel’s Hill”.

In 1938, Mrs. Anna Bell told it was the wish of her mother, Mrs. E.H. (Agnes) Cox, to make a gift to the Cemetery Association of $500 to be used for the up-keep of the cemetery. Mrs. Bell, Oscar Cox and their nephew, Leslie McIntyre, carried out this wish in her memory. In 1940, a project of building a cemetery toilet and the main entrance to the cemetery was started. The rock for the pillars was purchased from John Standish of Edwardsville; and the rockwork was done by Louis (Bud) Freeman. The cement steps were built by Lawrence Hummelgaard. Other familiar names connected with the project were: Zellners, Clyde Hunter Lumber, Lambert Lumber Co., Fred Yonally, George Rodkey, George Robb, Harry Sorensen, Joe Foley, Ralph Duncanson, T.C. Davis, Jr. and the Acme Patterson Works for the bronze plate. When the work was completed, $497 of the $500 had been spent.

In July, 1965, the Risen Christ Shrine produced by John E. Heiser Memorials, Atchison, KS, was erected for George E. Thompson of Fairbanks, Alaska. The Shrine is made of Wells-Lamson granite, Barre Vermont, and weighs around 20,000 pounds with the central stone weighing over 10,000 pounds. It is ironic that George E. Thompson was the first to be buried at this site at the age of 48 years. The Shrine was nearly destroyed in the F1 tornado of May, 2000, which also did other damage throughout the cemetery.

On Veterans Day, November 11, 1987, in cooperation with the VFW Post 9271 and the Lester Hamil American Legion Post 41, a ceremony was held to dedicate a pole and American Flag in honor of the late John White, former Postmaster and World War II Veteran, who had placed flags on the veteran’s graves for over 29 years. On Memorial Day, 1988, an Avenue of Flags was made possible by the local VFW Post, businesses and individuals. It was an awesome sight as you gazed upon the Avenue of American Flags alongside the beautifully decorated graves. The local American Legion Post continues the tradition of placing flags on each veteran’s grave on Memorial Day.

Over the years, many have been involved in the Tonganoxie Cemetery Association. J.H. Leighty was an early record keeper, and R.W. Freeman served as President from May 8, 1915, until April 8, 1942. George Robb then became President followed by Vernon DeHoff in 1958, and later Tom Robb. In later years, Edward and Carol Slawson and Mary Francis Krull were long-term officers and volunteers. Current officers.