Some History of Riverside and How Capitol Hill Cemetery Came To Be Abandoned in Favor of Riverside
When Cambridge City was plotted in 1836 upon the arrival of the first settlers, a place was laid aside as a burial ground for the town's people. Two acres, one each from George Graham and Ira Lackey, "south of third Street, east of the river" were donated. The cemetery, later called Capitol Hill, fell into disfavor in the 1860's due to complaints of poor soil, inaccessibility, noise from the railroad, small size and poor terrain.
In early 1867 several of the town's leading ladies took it upon themselves to find a more suitable burial ground. A site near the National Road between Dublin and Cambridge City was chosen, then rejected. The ladies then decided to expand the existing cemetery and payments were made to Gen. Solomon Meredith for land contiguous to the old plot. When the new addition was found objectionable for the same reasons as the old, Meredith willingly refunded the payments.
In February 1868 a committee was appointed to find a suitable place. In March, the committee reported in favor of ground lying north of East Cambridge on the Hagerstown Pike, lying between it and the Whitewater River, the present location of Riverside Cemetery.
The land, owned by John Callaway, was purchased for an unbelievable $250 an acre. He secured the sale by taking ten percent interest, as well as variable length corporation bonds. The high price of the land gave the new enterprise an uphill battle, but to make things worse, the town trustees mortgaged the ground back to Callaway. This made the issuance of satisfactory deeds impossible and people were afraid to buy lots for fear the cemetery plan might be abandoned.
For several years the growth of Riverside was stagnated. Finally, a new town board realized it was imperative to pay off the debt. They agreed to redeem the bonds if Callaway would release the mortgage. This brought the current cemetery into more prominent usage, and Capitol Hill was completely abandoned. The last burial there was in 1931.
The black fence that still surrounds Riverside was erected in 1901, and at that time it was valued at "nearly $7,000", although it was purchased second-hand for considerably less. The mausoleum was built by a town ladies' association in 1905.
The cemetery's most prominent monument, that of Gen. Solomon Meredith, was moved from the family homestead to Riverside (sometime after 1908) at the request of Mrs. Virginia Meredith, a family member by marriage. Both Crown Hill Cemetery in Indianapolis and Glen Miller Park in Richmond wanted the statue, but Mrs. Meredith thought it more appropriate that it be left in Cambridge City. Its presence is a fitting tribute to the history of Riverside Cemetery.
(by Becky Grigsby, "The History of Riverside Cemetery", 1836-1986 Cambridge City Sesquicentennial, Cambridge City Chamber of Commerce)