Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery
I serve as a volunteer on the Board of the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery Inc., located at 8320 Moore Road, Pike Twp. I joined the board in 2005, when the board was offered a one acre parcel of land from the adjacent property owner, Dr. and Mrs. James Asher for the express purpose of expanding the cemetery and establishing a family burial plot for the donor’s family. In the course of completing the year-end work on the donation we discovered that neither the original cemetery nor the donation property was ever appropriately zoned for such a use. I immediately contacted Karen Terrell and she arranged a meeting which she and I attended in December 2006 with Kathleen Blackham, Senior Planner, Division of Planning, Department of Metropolitan Development, to discuss zoning both the original cemetery and the donation parcel from the current DA zoning classification to the SU10 (cemetery) classification.
The Asher’s received, in exchange for their donation, gift recognition on their 2006 taxes for the appraised value of the acre, minus the value of 2 cemetery lots, which will be used by them as their final resting place. The balance of the donated property is to be used for expansion of the cemetery. This donation has now been completed and the Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery has increased in size from 2 acres to 3 acres. The cemetery helps to define this historical area and the donation is exciting and significant for a number of reasons:
1. The Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery has been largely inactive for several years as we have not had burial plots available to sell to the public.
2. The cemetery is surrounded on three sides by farm land and the donation does not change this. Both before and following the donation, the neighbors remain the same; to the south is the William Elder farm and the neighbor to the west and north is the donor’s farm. Our east property line is Moore Road. Access to the new property will be across the southwest corner of the existing cemetery with no change in curb cuts or setbacks. To the traveling public there will be no visible change at 8320 Moore Road.
3. The cemetery is one of the oldest, if not the oldest cemeteries in Pike Township that is still in operation. The cemetery dates to 1845, or earlier, and is a final resting place for Revolutionary War Veteran John Hume, nationally known Indianapolis Fashion Photographer, Noble Bretzman, and numerous pioneer families from the first generation of Indiana’s history.
4. The cemetery is independent of any church, is not-for-profit, and is open to the public. The expansion will enable us to offer affordable burial plots to anyone that would like to plan to spend eternity in this pastoral and picturesque part of Pike Township. A public hearing has been scheduled for March 1, 2007 per the attached legal notice. As a part of circulating the petition to the various governmental bodies for review, the Department of Public Works has requested an additional 40 feet of right of way for Moore Road across the front of the cemetery on Moore Road. The cemetery that has frontage on Moore Road has been in continuous operation as a cemetery since the 1820s and there is no land to donate. It is not reasonable to request that any property be taken from the historic Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery for the purpose of widening Moore Road due to the rural historic character of both the cemetery and the district.
The link above will take you to the Rural Historic District application that was accepted in 2006 by Indiana DNR and U.S. Dept. of Interior per Frank Hurdis at Indiana DNR. The Old Pleasant Hill Cemetery and its significance to the district are mentioned within the report on pages 12,30,47,48,67,69 and 77. When I spoke with Mr. Hurdis he said that the designation protects the entire area from state and federal highway projects within the district and may have an impact on the city’s thoroughfare plan as an 80′ right of way would damage the historic integrity of the cemetery and of the district. It is very possible that the establishment of the Rural Historic Designation for this area will cause the city to revisit the thoughfare plan as it relates to Moore Road. (Moore Road is defined as one of the integral and original rural roadways that is intact in the district and it is mentioned throughout the report. Additionally the 1879 Asher home mentioned in the report refers to the residence of the donor of the land for the expansion of the cemetery, page 65. )
I am also attaching a photo of the historical marker for John Hume, (1761-1840) a veteran of the Revolutionary War, who is buried here. The text of his marker is: “John Hume 1761-1840 Revolutionary War Soldier PA. Militia Indiana Pioneer Born in PA. Moved to New York State Settled in Indiana in 1815 Lived in this vicinity until his death. Buried here.