Ritchie Cemetery

SW 27th and Boswell
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Topeka, KS 66611

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Ritchie Cemetery, also known as the South Topeka Cemetery, the Slave Cemetery and the Howard Cemetery, is a five-acre plot at the L-intersection of SW 27th and Boswell. About 100 people are buried in the cemetery (the last in the 1940s), but only about 15 headstones mark graves. Coffin-size indentations mark other graves.

The cemetery is named for John Ritchie, a territorial Kansas abolitionist who co-founder Lincoln College (which later became Washburn University), and the First Congregational Church. Ritchie, one of Topeka's earliest citizens, was a colonel who commanded the 5th Kansas Cavalry during the Civil War and was a friend of abolitionist John Brown and feminist Susan B. Anthony. Ritchie's farm covered much of southeastern Topeka, and while he donated the land for the cemetery, he is buried at Topeka Cemetery.

Four Topeka veterans of one of the first American black Army units commanded by black officers in the late 1800s are buried in Ritchie Cemetery, dating it at least to the Spanish-American War era. All privates, they are George Jordan, Sandy Mothel, Robert Ransom and Walter Rossin, and their final resting place is marked by four headstones installed in the spring of 2000.

Another historic tie is the grave of Martha "Granny" Ransom, a freed slave and great-grandmother of John Jefferson Scott. Scott was one of the Topeka lawyers active in the Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education lawsuit, which resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1954 striking down as unconstitutional the separate-but-equal doctrine of education.

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THE BASICS

Location: South

Ambience: Small & Serene



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