An Introduction to the Cemetery and the Project
Ritchie Cemetery is located on a 3.7 acre tract at 27th and Boswell in Topeka, Kansas. The first known burials, in 1859, were children of White free-state settlers. Beginning in the 1880s, however, the cemetery became a predominantly African American one. The Black population in Topeka had increased sharply following the Exoduster migration of 1879, in which thousands of Blacks came to Kansas from southern states, seeking new opportunities and a better life.
The cemetery was never formally managed, and no records exist. As of January 2021, we have documented 302 burials at Ritchie—about 100 more than were known when the project started in May 2019. The last burial occurred in 1941.
New burials have been prohibited since the City of Topeka declared the cemetery abandoned and took control of the site in 1962.
Most of the project content will be added to the website incrementally through regular blog posts, so check back often, or better yet, sign up for notifications!
We will be posting and adding related content in the following subject categories, each of which has its own page on the website:
The most recent posts will always appear on the home page, as well as the relevant category page(s). Visit those pages for a preview of what is yet to come. And, the About page has more information on the purpose of the project and how it started.
We hope you enjoy learning about Ritchie Cemetery as much as we have!
Jeff Hansen and Jan Johnson