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History

Much history lies behind the name of Covenanter and Covenanter Drive, a major artery in the neighborhood. The original Scottish Covenanters came to coastal North America seeking greater religious freedom, especially during the Wars of Religion (1661-68). While many settled in South Carolina, some were influenced to leave South Carolina and move to Bloomington largely because of their objection to slavery. Among the families moving to Bloomington was that of Thomas Smith who built a house in 1833 from bricks created on-site from the heavy clay that underlies southern Indiana topsoil. Historians have determined that the house, which remains today, contained facilities that allowed hiding escaped slaves moving north on the Underground Railway. Many of the early pioneers are interred at the Covenanter Cemetery located at the corner of High Street and Moore’s Pike.

The logo of the Covenanter Neighborhood draws on elements of two Covenanter images found in Edinburgh, Scotland.  The circle is an aspect of the Covenanters’ Memorial, which marks the spot where more than a hundred Covenanters were executed.  The thistle, Scotland’s national emblem, appears on Covenanter battle flags of that period on display at Greyfriars Kirk.

Covenanter history is rich – much of which is still unexplored.

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Integral to the history of the Covenanter Cemetery located at the corner of Moore’s Pike
and High Street. The cemetery was established in the 1830s on land purchased by
emigrating Presbyterians from South Carolina, as the site both for their church and the
graveyard. Known as Covenanters they were strong abolitionists who were determined to
leave the slave-holding south. Reverend James Faris was Minister of the new church and
his monument, as well as markers for several family members and descendants, are
prominently present in the cemetery.

After a fire destroyed the church in 1877 it moved to South Walnut Street but the cemetery
remained at its original location. Later this group split into two factions, one of which
became the Reformed Presbyterian Church and moved to the southeast corner of Lincoln
and Washington Streets where it is still an active congregation.

 

The oldest part of the cemetery is on the east side where the oldest stone of George
Daugherty, 1773-Oct. 1838 is located. Many prominent families and individuals and their
descendants are buried in the cemetery including the grave of Elizabeth Breckenridge
(1843-1910). Born in Bedford, Indiana, she was the daughter of an ex-slave and served as a
domestic in the Theophilus and Rebecca Wylie family house from the age of 13. Her
mother, stepfather and two infant halfsiblings are buried next to her. Although there is
some space remaining in the small 3 ½ acre lot, burial there is restricted to members of the
Reformed Presbyterian Church, in particular to descendants of those already buried there.

 

Tours of the cemetery are conducted annually. Details of which will be posted to the CNA
website.