The Famous Tenants of Oak Hill Cemetery

In the very northeastern corner of Georgetown lies the beautiful Oak Hill Cemetery. It was built in 1848 under the direction of Georgetown’s favorite son William Wilson Corcoran. Open daily (except Saturdays), the 22 acre cemetery is one of the most peaceful yet slightly eerie spots in Georgetown.

The bulk of its interments come from the well-to-do class of DC during the second half of the 19th century. There are generals, admirals, doctors and lawyers galore. But its also got more than a few Confederate spies and just about everyone involved in the Lincoln assassination minus Lincoln and Booth themselves. Even Confederate president Jefferson Davis was buried here until 1893.

After the jump, check out some of the more notable grave sites:

The aforementioned William Wilson Corcoran. Georgetown native and son of two-time Georgetown Mayor, Thomas Corcoran. Founder of Riggs Bank and the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Henry Addison. Mayor of Georgetown during the Civil War. Addison school is named after him.

Edwin Stanton. Secretary of War during the Civil War. Nominated and approved for the Supreme Court, but died before taking the oath.

Eleanor Washinton. First person buried in Oak Hill Cemetery.

Dean Acheson. Secretary of State under Harry Truman.

Joe Pozell. Superintendent of Oak Hill Cemetery. Longtime auxiliary police officer who directed traffic at Wisconsin and M on a volunteer basis. Killed in the line of duty 2005.

Phillip and Katharine Graham. Owners and publishers of the Washington Post. Lived in Beall-Washington house across the street.

If you would like to take your own tour of the cemetery, here is a wonderful map of all the notable grave sites. Just one thing: it’s particularly eerie to go when it’s slightly rainy, but take it from GM, those slate walkways get awfully slippery so be careful.

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9 Comments

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9 responses to “The Famous Tenants of Oak Hill Cemetery

  1. What an interesting post. Thanks!

  2. When Tad “Willie” Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s son, died while Lincoln was president, the boy was placed in a walk-in mausoleum at Oak Hill. Lincoln would slip away from the White House, without security, and come to the mausoleum regularly. There was a rocking chair in the mausoleum for the president, and Lincoln would take his son out of his crypt and hold him while sitting in the rocking chair. After Lincoln was assassinated, both he and his son took a train ride back to Springfield, Illinois where they were both buried.

  3. Ancient Mariner

    1) Jefferson Davis was briefly buried in New Orleans (Metaire Cemetery) before his body was relocated to Richmond’s Hollywood Cemetery.

    He was never, ever buried in Oak Hill.

    (Perhaps the cemetery had some other Jefferson Davis — such as the Union general.)

    2) It was Lincoln’s crazy wife Mary who had the casket disinterred (twice!) so that she could see Willie’s face through the glass window in the top. (Lincoln’s own casket had the same sort of window.)

    (Does Dave Roffman just make things up as he goes? What evidence is there that Willie’s body was ever removed from his casket?)

  4. Felicia Stidham

    Great article and great to see that you included the grave of our dear friend, Joe Pozell.

    Might one suggest that these gentle souls are here more permanently than the average “tenant”?

  5. Grammar Police

    I believe you mean ‘interments’. Internments are the policy by which people are confined during wartime. Interment is the act of being buried.

  6. GM

    AM: you may be right about Jefferson Davis, it would be odd fo him to be buried there. But Oak Hill seems to think it was the Jefferson Davis.

    Felicia: Thanks, I certainly couldn’t leave out Joe. Your comment reminded me about a practice I saw in Austria where they disinter the bodies of those whose families no longer pay the “rent”. Thankfully that’s not a practice here!

    GP: You’re right, it’s corrected.

  7. Q St Neighbor

    On the Oak Hill Cemetery Map legend it says:
    31. Jefferson Davis—President of Confederate States of America; Infant son buried in 1854; removed in 1893. Lot 325

    I interpret this to mean that only his infant son was buried there, for a few decades before being moved. It’s not a clear description on the map; I also initially thought Davis himself was buried here, but that doesn’t make sense given what we know about Davis and his death.

    The cemetery is also lovely when the fall foliage is at its peak!

  8. joanne

    To correct a few mistakes.
    Tad was the youngest Lincoln son. Willie was William Wallace Lincoln.
    Mary Lincoln was never known to have visited the grave it was only the President.

  9. Early Georgetown families are buried at Oak Hill including Nathan Loughborough Assistant Comptrolrer of the Currency and many of his descendants. Nathan Loughborough was originally buried at Grasslands where the NBC Studios are and the Department of Homeland Security.

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