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Page last updated on February 19, 2024 at 8:50 pm

Cemetery Decorations

Bloomington Parks and Recreation reminds cemetery visitors of the rules and guidelines for grave decorations.

  1. Link to a two-page document with photographs of approved and unapproved types of cemetery decorations.
  2. Artificial and fresh-cut flowers and wreaths are permitted at all times in the cemetery. They must be firmly attached to the monuments or markers. No decorations may be placed on or anchored to the ground.
  3. Shepherd's hooks and glassware are not permitted at any time. All items must be placed securely on the monument so as not to present a hazard to cemetery workers or visitors.
  4. Flags placed in the cemetery the Saturday before Memorial Day will be removed four weeks after the holiday.


compiled and written by Donald Matson

There are no written records of burials at Rose Hill Cemetery until October 6, 1897.

The oldest section of the cemetery is located in the southeast corner bordered by Maple and Third Streets, and was probably begun about 1818-1820 by the County Board and was selected by the Commissioners, and was announced that the location chosen was "out in the country, about a mile west of town." In order that workmen and others connected with graveyard establishment could easily find the area, a handyman of the Board carved G.Y. in large letters on a stately oak tree at the cemetery entrance, thus designating the graveyard to be. This part was simply referred to as the Grave Yard by early townspeople. As time went on, the name Grave Yard was dropped and it was called City Cemetery. Custody and upkeep remained with the County Board until April 20, 1868 when the premises were conveyed to the town government.

In 1892 a women's civic committee called the Ladies Cemetery Association asked that they be allowed to assume the management of the City Cemetery. They had several things in mind that would benefit the cemetery and the city, among them the hiring of a sexton and the building of a home at the cemetery for him, and help from the city in paying him. His salary was not to exceed $250 per year. Along with the home were to be a woodshed and a cistern. A greenhouse was contemplated as a public facility for the purchase of flowers.

As had been promised, a new name for the cemetery was made known to the public. The name "Rose Hill" was agreed upon as being in keeping with the wild and cultivated roses that were lavishly spread over the grounds.

In 1893 a fountain was built in the center of (as the ladies called it) "Evergreen Arbor," which was the circular arrangement of pine trees around the fountain. About a year later the Association began to improve the appearance of the cemetery driveways. Crushed stone was laid down, fencing installed and lots marked and recorded.

There are many historic graves in Rose Hill, most of which are in the older section. Among them are the first president of Indiana University, which bears the following inscription:

"Andrew Wylie, Doctor in pinity and First President of University of Indiana, who was born April 12, 1789 and died November 11, 1851." This inscription appears in English on the face of the monument and is engraved in Latin on the reverse side. By his side and marked by a smaller stone lies his daughter Jane M. Wylie, who died October 4, 1865 at the age of 29 years.

A short distance away lies Rev. Elisha Ballantine (1809-1886) who was Professor of Greek; Theopilus A. Wylie, who was a professor of language and later of Natural Philosophy; Professor Daniel Kirkwood (1814-1895), who was professor of mathematics at the University from 1856-1886; Willis Perronet Chamberlin, a former Instructor of English, who died in Bloomington in 1895; Lewis Bollman, the first graduate of Indiana University, born 1811, graduated in 1831, and died in 1888; and Cornelius Perring, the second man to receive an honorary degree from the University. He received the degree of Master of Art in 1837 and died in 1881 in Louisville, KY.

A moss-covered tombstone bears this legend:

"A tribute erected by students of Indiana University to the memory of Eugene A. Morgan, who died May 21, 1886, at the age of 20 years."

Mr. Morgan came from Brownsville, Ind., enlisted in the Civil War, and at the expiration of his term entered the University. He died shortly after, and his fellow students erected the monument as a loving tribute to the memory of their classmate.

The grave of General Morton C. Hunter is also at Rose Hill. He was prominent in the life of the University and a great friend of the institution. At the time of the agitation to move Indiana University away from Bloomington around 1870, Mr. Hunter was the moving spirit in raising money to keep it here.

Hon. Paris C. Dunning, who died in Bloomington in 1884 at the age of 78, is buried here. He represented Monroe County in the state legislature in 1833-1838 and in 1868. He was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1847 and upon the election of Gov. Whitcomb to the U.S. Senate he filled his unexpired term as governor.

There are only three small family crypts, these being of the Jonson family built in 1927, the Holland family built in 1940 and the Grinstead family. There are two mausoleums, the larger and older one located in Section O and the smaller and newer one in Section J.