Saint Joseph, MO

The Mount Mora Cemetery constructed in 1851 in St. Joseph, Missouri holds historical persons of interest

CJ Coombs

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Mount Mora Cemetery in St. Joseph, Missouri. Photo by poster in September 2007.Author unkn., CCA-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

The oldest public cemetery in St. Joseph, Missouri is Mount Mora Cemetery. This cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006. It's been said this cemetery was for the elite and considering who was buried there, that might be true.

Established in 1851, Mount Mora is the oldest operating cemetery in St. Joseph. The boom years of the post Civil War period, known as St. Joseph’s Golden Age, gave rise to the building of some of the country’s finest architectural tombs. (Source.)

Some historical persons buried there include soldiers who fought in the Civil War for the Union and the Confederacy. Two Pony Express riders are buried there. Governors Willard Preble Hall (1820-1882), Robert Marcellus Stewart (1815–1871), and Silas Woodson (1819–1896) were buried there too. Missouri's first licensed funeral director, David J. Heaton, is buried there.

Though it was primarily used by the rich, there is a variety of graves from mausoleums to simple headstones, showing the wide range of people interred in the cemetery. The mausoleums, of which there are 30, are particularly notable. Resembling small buildings, their ornate design reflects Egyptian and Classical architecture and the wealth of those within them. (Source.)
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Mount Mora Cemetery.Rcool1234, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Prior to there being a cemetery in St. Joseph, the residents were burying their loved ones on their property or in a cemetery that was located elsewhere.

The city and county's first surveyor, Simeon Kemper, was the original architect who helped lay out the land for the cemetery that is housed on 20 acres. He and his family have a hilltop plot. There are other interesting persons located in this cemetery.

The acreage is surrounded by a limestone wall and iron fence. There are many graves and markers in this cemetery. Supposedly, there were around 15,000 people buried there, but only 8,845 have a marker. There are two war memorials associated with World War I and the Civil War.

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Mausoleums at Mount Mora Cemetery.Rcool1234, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

While the exact number of graves is not known, the burial records indicate 15,000 buriels. Records from 1851 to 1871 covering the first 20 years are missing. There is a process that was underway to catalog the burials from the last 30 years by computer.

The oldest mausoleum is dated 1896 and most of the others surround 1900. I have always been intrigued by the architecture and history behind mausoleums. Mausoleum row consisting of 21 mausoleums is located by the front gate.

The World War I Memorial was built in 1926 as was the Confederate Civil War memorial by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The superintendent's residence was built in 1903, and there's also a barn on the grounds that was built in 1909.

For the historical significance alone along with the architectural design is a reason to pay a visit. The cemetery is open free to the public. Click here for more information on its history.

Thank you for reading.

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Multi-genre writer and indie author; 30 years of legal secretarial experience; BA in Eng Journalism & Creative Writing. Thinker, giver, and lover of life. Born into Air Force service life, life has taken me to Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, art, truth, non-fiction, reading, history, and travel.

Kansas City, MO
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