Historic Cemetery

Honored to carry on the tradition!

We didn’t know it when we purchased the farm, but we are not the first horsemen to live here.  Horses have been on this land for over two hundred years. Between the Steeplechase field and the Show Jumping hill stands our historic cemetery guarded by large, old trees. The Burch family has been on this land since the late 1700’s.  The oldest gravestone, of Joseph Burch,  dates back to 1818. The cemetery is home to four generations of the Burch family and has a unique connection to horse history.

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Joseph Thomas Burch and Susannah Jackson Burch, both buried here, had 12 children (6 sons and 6 daughters).  All of their sons and two grandsons enlisted in the Confederate Army Cavalry and all returned home after the war.  This was quite unusual.  Their successful return home was largely based on Burch family’s horses.  They raised Thoroughbreds and, because of the quality and speed of their mounts, they were all assigned as officer’s aids and couriers.  These assignments allowed them to stay out of harm’s way – all eight Burch men made it back home!
One of the grandsons, William Preston Burch, served as a courier under Lieutenant General Wade Hampton. After the war he served as a Hall of Fame Trainer for 61 years.  William named one of his best horses after General Hampton. This horse went on to win the Monmouth Sequel and the Saratoga Sequel Stakes in 1872.  William Preston was the first of three Burch men who are honored for their training skills in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in Saratoga NY.

William Preston’s son, Preston Morris Burch, was a Trainer for 56 years . He also wrote the first book about training thoroughbreds that is still used in the industry today. His son continued the family equestrian tradition.  J. Elliott trained for Paul Mellon’s Rokeby Stable and for C.V. Whitney for 31 years from 1955 to1985 and is the third member to be inducted in the Hall of Fame..

So you see, while we originally purchased the land to share our enjoyment of horses with others, we’ve found that we are really just the caretakers of the horsemen before us who had the same idea over 200 years ago.  And it reinforces our dream to continue the traditional long format version of the sport that was originally based on Calvary exercises.

We are honored to carry on the Burch equestrian tradition at Southern 8ths Farm.