Prior to the establishment of National Cemetery at the southern end of present-day Government Avenue, the hillock upon which it sits was originally known as Gallows Hill.
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The hilltop had a hanging gallows from at least the 1840s to the Civil War. The first people known to have been hung at the gallows were Crawford and Lavinia Burnett. They were convicted of being accessories to the murder of Johnathan Sibley. Their son and one of the son's cousins had committed the murder. The son was later captured in Missouri and followed his parents to the gallows.
During the "Arrington and Wallace War" of 1840, vigilantes under the direction of Alfred Arrington camped at the hill the night before entering Fayetteville. They intented to arrest Willis Wallace for murder, but he and supporters had barricaded themselves into his grocery on the square and commandeered two cannon for defense.
After the Civil War, the hill became home to the National Cemetery and Oak Cemetery.