The Vincennes City Cemetery is made up of three sections of land named “Greenlawn,” “Fairview,” and “Memorial Park.” Greenlawn, dating all the way back to 1788, is recognized as being the oldest public cemetery in the state of Indiana. It was once known as the “Public Burying Ground” (to distinguish it from the existing Catholic Cemetery) and is pretty much a “who’s who” of Indiana’s colorful history. In 1898 the city expanded the cemetery by adding the new “Fairview” section. In 1938, with the help of Works Progress Administration (WPA) labor, it was expanded again with the “Memorial Park'' addition. The WPA was a part of the “New Deal” and was a federal project established to create jobs and to help stimulate the economy during the Great Depression.
Located in Greenlawn, the oldest legible stone in the cemetery dates to 1815 and belongs to Dolly Blackman. Unfortunately, after an exhaustive search, not much more is known about her. There is a stone in the rear of Greenlawn Cemetery that is badly discolored. It is believed that its discoloration was caused by a lightning strike.
Israel Brown was a man who liberated himself from slavery in Georgia and came to live in Vincennes during the Civil War. He was active in the community and became an elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church here. In 1902, he said that markings appeared on the walls of his house, the religious Brown saw divine images in them. The events were reported in newspapers around the country, even in Georgia. Brown’s long-lost wife, whom he had not seen since before he left Georgia, and whom he had believed was dead, contacted him after seeing the newspaper coverage. The two were reunited after more than 43 years apart. Israel Brown is buried in Fairview section J1, in lot #151.
In 1940, “Babyland” was added for infants. It is speculated that this section may have been added to create a less-expensive burial option for people with little financial resources or possibly a way to save space within the cemetery. During the dedication ceremony for Babyland, airplanes flew high above in formation and dropped flowers to the ground below as a gesture of respect.
In 2017, the first interment was made in a section of the cemetery that had recently been designated as a veteran’s section. The cemetery now includes land for future growth that is currently being utilized as a youth soccer field.