From 1750, all burials in Staunton took place in the 2 ½ acre plot of Augusta Parish Church. By the late 1840’s this cemetery in the center of town was so crowded that it was nearly impossible to dig a new grave without unearthing an old one. A new cemetery was needed.
A committee was formed in 1848 to pursue the creation of a new burial ground, and on February 24, 1849, Thornrose Cemetery Company was chartered by act of the Legislature. Twelve acres west of Staunton were bought and laid off in lots, roads and walkways. The first recorded burial in Thornrose occurred on March 29, 1853, with the new cemetery being formally dedicated on May 28, 1853.