Little Family Cemeteries

Iron Gate
child grave

The site contains two cemeteries. The smallest contains the graves of the early Little and Stinson families with more than 20 burials, is along the Rock Hawk Trail, and can be seen from the park road. The second cemetery, also along the Rock Hawk Trail, which has more than 100 graves, was probably a slave cemetery originally and later included burials not only of Little family members but also of other area residents as well.

The majority of the graves in the larger cemetery have no marker. This is not unusual for 19th century plots, since permanent markers were relatively expensive.

Without the process of embalming, it was necessary to bury the dead as soon as possible. It was usual for the family to keep the deceased in the home from the time of death until burial. If the family was well-to-do, the body was placed in the formal parlor or on the table in the dining room for viewing. Most of the time the body was laid in its own bed, sometimes the same bed in which the person had been born. The custom of “sitting up” overnight with the dead was common, the night in question usually being that separating the day of death from the day of burial.

Mortality rates were high in the 19th century, particularly for women and children. Childbirth was often a fatal experience, since many women died of childbed fever in the days before antibiotics. Children also died in large numbers from childhood diseases not adequately treatable by the medicine of the time. The Little family, like their neighbors, dealt with death up close. It was an integral part of their lives.