Pioneer Cemeteries and Their Stories,

Madison County, Indiana

Cottrell Cemetery

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aka Chapman

Green Township

Location: south side of Reformatory Road, east of SR 13

    The Cottrell name is of Norman derivation going all the way back through English history to William the Conqueror of 1066.  American family members were from Virginia, and the Hoosier patriarch, Abraham, was born in that state on June 29, 1803.  Abraham Cottrell moved  to Green Township in 1823 and settled on property between Fall and Lick creeks.  There he carved out a homestead from the untouched wilderness and operated this farm until his death April 29, 1889. 

    Abraham's father John, 1771-1855, was a veteran of the War of 1812.  John and wife Elizabeth, 1776-1863, migrated with their grown son and his family, began new lives in the Hoosier frontier, and are buried at the Cottrell.  John and Elizabeth's gravestones were unearthed during the initial phase of restoration. 

    Abraham's wife Susan Hilderbrand was also born in Virginia in 1803.  Abraham and Susan had nine children, many of whom stayed in the county and established families.  Mrs. Cottrell pre-deceased  her husband in 1882.  Abraham and Susan are buried in this private cemetery which was located near the homestead.  Among the other family members interred here are Thomas J. and William Cottrell, who were both veterans of the Civil War.

    While the Cottrell is sometimes referred to by historians as the Chapman, since there are so many Cottrells buried within the cemetery's boundaries, the Cottrell name is the more familiar and widely used.  Although not listed below, according to Cottrell family historians, the first burial was one year old Abram Cottrell who died August 10, 1840.  Seven months later another child succumbed to the hardships of frontier life: six year old Lakin Chapman died March 3, 1841, and so was the second interment of record.  The Doty, Scott, and Hunter families are also represented here.  This latter family has three soldiers from the Civil War buried at the Cottrell.  Two of the Hunter veterans lived into the early years of the 20th century and so were buried after 1900.

    This private cemetery was owned by the Cottrells until the death of Margaret Cottrell in July of 1876.  Subsequently, there was an administrator's sale of the  real estate.  A two acre plot which included the cemetery became the property of Thomas and John Doty who sold it to Charles Doty.  A succession of private owners thereafter respected the burial grounds which remained in good condition until the last decade of the 20th century.  At that point, the story of the Cottrell Cemetery took a horrific turn.

    An owner of the property at that time began using the cemetery grounds as a parking lot for cars  and heavy equipment.  Needless to say, the destruction to the grave markers was enormous, but problems at the Cottrell were only beginning.  Junk and debris were added to the abandoned machinery, and weeds, undergrowth, and small trees soon covered the area as well. 


These pictures, taken by a descendent of Abraham Cottrell, show what the cemetery looked like in the mid 1990s.  The view at left is looking west.  One can make out a gravestone in front of the tires and another at the the corner of the glass.                


The view at right is looking east.  Underneath this junkyard are the graves of the Cottrell, Scott, Doty, and Hunter families.

    A surrounding line of cedars hid the destruction and misuse from the neighborhood.  If the situation was not bad enough, the land owner then decided that he needed a driveway through part of the cemetery.  With a complete disregard for the sanctity of those buried there and for their descendents, the owner took his heavy equipment and cut into the burial area, dumping earth, markers, and bones over the side of a nearby hill.  Rain and erosion then caused unearthed bones to be washed into neighbors' yards.  The neighbors alerted authorities, and the situation was brought to the attention of the township trustee, cemetery commission, and county coroner.

Madison County Coroner Marian Dunnichay inspects femur bones exposed by the desecration.  The rest of this skeleton's remains as well as other grave sites in the southern rows of the Cottrell Cemetery were dumped over the slope of the hill cut into to provide a driveway.

     Further destruction was stopped.  However, at that point, the damage was so extensive that the restoration costs were estimated at over $75,000.  The Indianapolis Star was made aware of the Cottrell's plight, and that newspaper ran two articles, complete with pictures of femurs protruding  from the earth, in the January 12th and February 4th, 1998, editions.  The Department of Natural Resources also became involved, and that state agency took charge of the exposed remains.

An MCCC volunteer is looking toward the east side of the hill in the background of this picture.  At the top is what is left of the Cottrell Cemetery.  The naked ground, cut into by the backhoe on the left, can be seen just above the metal trusses.  The east side of the hill was removed to make way for the white garage on the right. To the left is the driveway which can be seen extending through the south side of the cemetery.  The driveway is where the rest of the hill should be.  The driveway was intended to curve into the white garage.  Earth, gravestones, and bones were dumped across the drive, down the rest of the slope on the left.

    The new owners of the surrounding property turned the cemetery over to the township trustee and with that legal hurdle met, restoration of the Cottrell Cemetery was begun in 1999.  For six years, the Madison County Cemetery Commission worked with  descendents, the township trustee, nearby land owners, neighbors, and the DNR toward complete restoration.  In the fall of 2005, the Cottrell Cemetery's reclamation was finalized.  The Cottrell Cemetery Restoration page contains pictures of the process, and the Cottrell Rededication page completes the story.  

The list below is partial.

ID Names Birth Date Death Date Cemetery
4570 BID____, SARAH     COTTRELL
10238 CHAPMAN, LAKIN J. 6Y. 11M. 8D. MAR. 26, 1841 COTTRELL
12731 COTRELL, ELIZABETH A. JUL. 11, 1858 FEB. 14, 1899 COTTRELL
12785 COTTRELL, 36Y. 9M. 5D. MAR. 28, 1875 COTTRELL
12787 COTTRELL, ABRAM / ABRAHAM 85Y. 10M. 12D. APR. 23, 1889 COTTRELL
12790 COTTRELL, ELIZABETH DEC. 22, 1776 OCT. 22, 1863 COTTRELL
12792 COTTRELL, ELIZABETH A. / ELIZ JUL. 11, 1858 or 56 FEB. 14, 1899 COTTRELL
12796 COTTRELL, IDA MAY 1Y. 1M. 5D. DEC. 9, 1865 COTTRELL
12798 COTTRELL, JOHN FEB. 7, 1771 DEC. 7, 1855 COTTRELL
12801 COTTRELL, MARGARET 36Y. 9M. 5D. MAR. 28, 1875 COTTRELL
12805 COTTRELL, SUSANNA or SARAH JUN. 29, 1803 NOV. 22, 1882 COTTRELL
12806 COTTRELL, THOMAS J. SEP. 22, 1843 OR 23 JUN. 15, 1883 COTTRELL
12807 COTTRELL, WILLIAM JAN. 29, 1834 DEC. 11, 1878 COTTRELL
14729 DAVIS, C. D. 1838 1902 COTTRELL
16668 DOTY, CHARLES, SR. 76Y. 9M. 20D. SEP. 24, 1977 COTTRELL
16673 DOTY, HENRAETTA 1Y. 11M. 18D. JUL. 20, 1884 OR 54 COTTRELL
16678 DOTY, LUCINDA 66Y. 9M. 25D. FEB. 4, 1888 COTTRELL
16681 DOTY, SUSAN 15Y. 5D. MAY 6, 1864 COTTRELL
31014 HUNTER, (HUSBAND OF M .G.) SEP. 1863 MAR. 2, 1891 COTTRELL
31015 HUNTER, (HUSBAND OF M. F.) SEP. 12, 1852 MAR. 2, 1901 COTTRELL
31028 HUNTER, ELSEY LEE 9M. 7D. APR. 22, 1865 COTTRELL
37984 LEWIS, W. J. 180 O INF CO G   COTTRELL
51975 RIDENHOUR, SARAH 52Y. 7M. 12D. MAR. 1, 1865 COTTRELL
54847 SCOTT, DAVID   MAR. 7, 1863 COTTRELL
55015 SCOTT, SARAH JUL. 8, 1816 OR 19 AUG. 17, 1895 OR 99 COTTRELL
55023 SCOTT, THOMAS E. 43Y. SEP. 1, 1863 COTTRELL
55036 SCOTT, WILLIAM B. OR C. 26Y. MAR. 11, 1869 COTTRELL
59997 STEWART, SAMUEL E. JUL. 20, 1862 DEC. 25, 1872 COTTRELL
66882 WEST, JOHN 69Y. MAR. 17, 1857 COTTRELL

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