The Perryman Cemetery, located at 32nd and Utica, is Tulsa’s oldest private cemetery. The cemetery has approximately fifty people buried and has a small number of unmarked graves. The Perryman’s were instrumental in the foundation of Tulsa during the 19th century. The cemetery was laid out in its current location in 1848 by Lewis Perryman after an outbreak of cholera in the Broken Arrow area forced his family to move to the settlement of “Tulsey Tulova.”
Lewis Perryman built a log cabin near what is now 33rd and Rockford and ran a successful cattle operation in the years before the Civil War. Lewis fled to Kansas at the outbreak of the war and died there in 1862. After the war George Perryman, Lewis’ son, moved back to Tulsa to resume the family cattle operation. George married Rachel Alexander in 1868 and at one time their ranch, located between Tulsa and Broken Arrow, encompassed nearly 60,000 acres and 3,000 head of cattle. It was the largest ranch in the Creek Nation.
The Perryman family, friends and unknown soldiers in the Civil War were buried in the cemetery. The earliest gravestone belongs to Lydia Perryman Beaver, who passed away in 1879; the most recent is William B. Shirk, who died in 1941. Other prominent people in Tulsa history buried in the cemetery are George [died in 1899] and “Aunt” Rachel [d. 1933] Perryman; Tulsa’s first postmaster, Josiah Perryman [d. 1889] and Trail of Tears survivor Hannah Hayes Alexander [d. 1899].
By the 1960s, the Perryman Cemetery had fallen into disrepair with overgrown grounds and vandalized grave markers. Forced relocation of the bodies buried at the cemetery and development of the land was a real possibility until it was deeded to the Tulsa Historical Society in 1971. W.E. “Dode” McIntosh said the gift was “giving us the history of the Perryman family, which is Tulsa.”
Also see the chronological list of the known burials at Perryman Cemetery.