The First Presbyterian Church graveyard is the city’s oldest cemetery and final resting place of Knoxville founder James White and the first territorial governor William Blount.
Platted during the second survey of Knoxville in 1795, the plot hosts several of Knoxville’s most prominent citizens and many victims from a mysterious illness that swept the town in 1838. The “plague”, probably malaria, is responsible for one-tenth of the burials in the cemetery.
One of Knoxville’s conspiracy rumors has it that several of the grave sites are missing. These claims began circulating with the supposed discovery of headstones beneath a wing of the First Presbyterian Church. Still, missing plots or no, the cemetery was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1996.
One of the cemetery’s more infamous residents is the mysterious “black aggie” that is said to haunt the burial ground. A hooded, darkly transparent figure reportedly seen by several who visited the graveyard at night. The myth was given credence by an early newspaper editor, Adolph Ochs, who was so convinced that the cemetery was haunted that he would not leave his afterhours job as a printers devil, refusing to walk past the graveyard at night.
Today the cemetery is a small oasis of peaceful green in a sometimes hectic downtown environment. The adjacent church has posted information about the graveyard on their website where you can even look for a grave through a link to a database and search engine.