Division staff operate and maintain the City's three cemeteries, which are an important part of Ashland's heritage and community history. All three cemeteries, Ashland Cemetery (1880), Mountain View Cemetery (1904), and Hargadine Cemetery (1868) are all historical and listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
The three cemeteries total approximately 25 acres with over 11,500 burial plots. Staff maintain the grounds, sell plots and headstones, conduct interments, and provide other services as needed. Cemetery staff is responsible for the storage and retrieval of all archived cemetery records for the City of Ashland.
Ashland’s historic cemeteries are typical of western community burial grounds established in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. They were developed near the community boundaries and laid out in grid patterns with intersecting unpaved drives. Established gradually through the years, vegetation included both native and introduced trees.
Ashland’s cemeteries contain many markers that reflect the artistic values of the Victorian era that were derived from the influence of the Romantic Movement In literature and art. Whether small or massive in size, markers and monuments display turned work, chamfered corners, beveled tops or bas-relief designs. Ornamentation is expressed in many forms including carved flowers, birds, angels, fraternal symbols and garlands. Both raised and incised letters are employed. Cemetery plots were further enhanced with curbing or enclosures of cast iron fencing.
Materials used for cemetery markers reflect the use of local resources. There were several quarries within the Ashland area, including one marble quarry in Josephine County and at least three granite quarries in the Ashland area. Two particularly noted marble carvers, James Russell and Ann Hill Russell, operators of Ashland Marble Works, received widespread recognition for their work. The local newspaper deemed the Russell's as “due the credit for much of the best work in the cemeteries here” (Ashland Tidings, June 26, 1886). Each of Ashland’s historic cemeteries includes examples of the Russell’s artistic capabilities. In addition, James Carr Whipp, prominent long-time Jacksonville carver, opened a shop in Ashland about the turn of the century. Examples of his work may also be found in the three historic cemeteries.
During the 1920’s interest in erecting mausoleums to increase the amount of available burial space grew throughout the United States. In 1924 a private organization erected the Ashland Memorial Mausoleum, built by George Mason in the Egyptian Revival Style in the Mountain View Cemetery I.O.O.F section.
After 1928, after Ashland cemeteries’ appearances had declined from years of neglect. Mayor Edward Thorton and the City Council members proposed a charter amendment to help maintain Both Ashland and Mountain View Cemeteries (Hargadine Cemetery was privately maintained at this time.) The charter amendment also stipulated that the city would provide perpetual care for any new grave spaces sold and that the people already holding title to land could purchase care for their lots. At the November 6th, 1928 election Ashland citizens voted 972 to 470 in favor of the plan.
Serving as a final resting place for generations of Ashland residents since the mid 1800's, and still providing burial space in the 21st century the three historical cemeteries are an important part of Ashland’s history.