If there’s one thing Louisville has no shortage of, it’s famous people who call Derby City home.
Specifically, those who make their eternal homes at Cave Hill Cemetery. Some of our most decorated heroes — including Muhammad Ali + Col. Harland Sanders — lie in the 296-acre grounds of the 170-year-old cemetery on Baxter Avenue.
Today, we’re taking you on a tour through the National Cemetery + telling you where to find the graves of 5 prominent Louisvillians.
Keep digging to read about two unlikely cemeteries hidden in plain sight at the end of our tour.
🪦 Louis Seelbach, the founder of the Seelbach Hotel
Where to find: Section 13, lot 54
What he’s famous for: Louis Seelbach, along with his brother Otto, came to Louisville in 1896 to learn the hotel business. The brothers opened the lavish Beaux-Arts Baroque hotel — we know today as The Seelbach — at 500 S. 4th St. in 1905. It was billed as “the only fireproof hotel” in the city at the time + has since inspired patrons such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose stay influenced his classic literary work, “The Great Gatsby.”
🪦 Jennie C. Benedict, the creator of Benedictine spread
Where to find: Section G, lot 52
What she’s famous for: Born to a wealthy family in Harrods Creek, Jennie started a successful catering company and restaurant that rose to such prominence her meals were served to former Presidents Theodore Roosevelt + William Taft. Her recipes live on in her Blue Ribbon Cookbook, but her prized recipe for Benedictine remains a secret left out of the book. We’d hazard to guess that Lotsa Pasta’s Benedictine spread gets it right, though.
🪦 Julian Proctor Van Winkle Sr., the namesake + founder of Pappy Van Winkle
Where to find: Section 30, lot 5
What he’s famous for: You can’t hardly talk about Kentucky bourbon without talking about Pappy Van Winkle. The true legend of Pappy begins in 1893 when Julian Sr. began working for W.L. Weller & Sons as a wholesaler, later purchasing the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Shively. Despite taking a hit due to Prohibition, the family got back in the business + sold the distillery in 1972. Buffalo Trace now produces the iconic bourbon, which regularly sells for $1,500+ on secondary markets.
🪦 Mary Elizabeth + Mary Guendaline Caldwell, Shelby Park philanthropists
Where to find: Section 13
What they were famous for: The Caldwell Sisters, born to William Shakespeare Caldwell + Mary Eliza Breckinridge, made their mark on Louisville through philanthropic giving to Catholic institutions, specifically contributing funds to establish the Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital. Listen to this episode of “Curious Louisville,” for a 6-minute rundown of their story.
🪦 Henry Watterson, founder of The Courier-Journal
Where to find: Section P
What he’s famous for: In addition to being the namesake of the nearly 23-mile Watterson Expressway, Henry Watterson founded the local newspaper after a merger of the Louisville Courier + the Louisville Journal. He served as the paper’s first editor, where it earned distinction for its detailed coverage +occasionally unpopular convictions.
In addition to Cave Hill Cemetery, there are 2 other notable cemeteries that have made headlines in recent memory.
🪦 Burks Family Cemetery
Where to find: Breckenridge Lane + Dutchmans Parkway
Across the street from McAlisters Deli + Bed Bath and Beyond in a Breckenridge Lane shopping center rests the Burks Family, who used the cemetery from 1841-55. Enclosed by hedges on all sides, the family cemetery is home to four large, well-kept graves for James, Matilda, Samuel + Charles Burks. A fifth, nameless grave is also at the gravesite.
🪦 Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport + UPS Worldport grounds
Where to find: Google Maps
A fenced-in patch of grass on the airport’s campus marks a Native American burial ground amid the airfield. Officials with the airport said the ancient remains were found years before UPS Worldport was ever built, but they elected to keep the burial site intact out of respect for the dead. You can see it on Google Maps here.