The Oldham County Historical Society provides the following brief
information about the cemetery:
The Pewee Valley Cemetery located on Maple
Avenue in Pewee Valley, Oldham County, Kentucky was established in May
1871. In 1904 the Directors of the cemetery authorized the subdivision of
the cemetery into three sections, one section for the whites, one section
for the black population of Pewee Valley and the surrounding areas and one
section for the State of Kentucky to use for the interment of veterans
from the Confederate Veterans Home located in Pewee Valley. N 38° 18'
12.0'' W 085° 28' 35.6''
much more detailed history of the cemetery appears on the
Pewee Valley Cemetery website. Burial/grave information for all Oldham
County cemeteries is also available through the
Historical Society. Note that Pewee Valley Cemetery is cemetery
#148 in their listings.
This photo was
taken by Pewee Valley resident Norman Schippert and shows the
cemetery layout from the air.
In the aerial photograph above, the portion of the cemetery formerly
designated for whites in 1904 was above Maple Avenue, while the section
designated for blacks was below Maple Avenue. The Confederate
Cemetery is the rectangular area in the "white" section that
runs along Maple Avenue. (photo
on this site, too) After the division was made, the white and
black cemeteries kept separate records.
Two famous “Little Colonel” characters are buried in the cemetery’s
“white” section: Kate Matthews (Katherine Marks in the books) in the
Matthews family plot, denoted by the blue
star in the diagram below, and the Little
Colonel’s parrot, Polly, who was owned in real life by the
Burges, relatives of Annie Fellows
Johnston. Though we know from a newspaper article that Polly was buried with
a marker listing her age as 58, we have as yet been unable to locate her
Buried with Kate
Matthews in the family plot, denoted by the star, are her parents,
Lucien and Charlotta, and many of her siblings, including Florence, who was
the inspiration for Flora, a minor character in the “Little Colonel at
Boarding-School.” Also buried here, but in an unmarked grave, is Lillian
Fletcher Brackett’s dog. Lillian was Kate’s niece and lived in
Twigmore for many years
with Kate’s sister, Charlotta Matthews Osborne, also buried here.
Buried in the African American Cemetery is another inspiration for a
“Little Colonel” character, Walker Hardin. He
was Annie Fellows Johnston’s model for the Old Colonel’s man-servant in the
stories and was played by Bill "Bojangles" Robinson in the "The Little
Colonel" movie released in 1935. Cemetery records for this section are
spotty, and we have been unable to locate his grave.
The African American Cemetery is also mentioned once in the Little
Colonel stories, in
Chapter 10, “A Plot” in the "Little Colonel at Boarding-School," when
the Shadow Club girls are contemplating “hoodoo-ing” Mittie Dupong for
eavesdropping on a club meeting at
Seminary and spreading the conversations she heard throughout the
"Yes," agreed Kitty.
"We'll hoodoo her. That is the way."
Such a plan never
would have been thought of in a Northern school. Even in this little
Kentucky seminary it is doubtful if it could have been carried out had not
previous events paved the way. There was scarcely a pupil in the school
whose earliest impressions had not been tinged in some degree by the
superstitions of some old coloured nurse or family servant. Even Lloyd had
not escaped them entirely, in spite of all her mother's watchful care. Mom
Beck knew better than to talk of such things openly before her, but she
had hinted of them to the other servants in her presence, till Lloyd had a
vague uneasiness when she dreamed of muddy water, or spilled the salt, or
saw a bird flying against a window. From babyhood such happenings had been
associated in her mind with Mom Beck's portents of ill-luck.
There was not a
coloured person in the neighbourhood who could have explained why so many
graves in the negro cemetery had bottles or fruit-jars placed upon
them, inside of which were carefully sealed the whitest of chicken
feathers. Undoubtedly they were the relic of some old African fetish…
Two views of
the African American section of the cemetery
(click photos to enlarge)
--page by Donna Russell