The 1840s Cave Spring School and Cave Spring Cemetery in Jasper County, Missouri

CJ Coombs
Photo byGoogle Maps/Cave Spring School.

The historic one-story Cave Spring School located at 4323 County Road 4 in Sarcoxie, Missouri was built around 1840. It was also reconstructed in 1875. In front is a full-width hipped roof porch which was added on around 1937. There are two stone privies on the property associated with the school. From 1865-1866, the school building was a temporary courthouse for Jasper County.

The historic Cave Spring Cemetery adjacent to the school contains over 420 marked graves that date back to 1840, and Find-a-Grave indicates over 700 records. This cemetery and the school are what's left of the historic Cave Spring community.

On July 17, 2012, the Cave Spring School and Cave Spring Cemetery were listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Photo byGoogle Maps/Cave Spring Cemetery.

The school building and cemetery are significant because they are associated with education and social history.

The Cave Spring School and Cave Spring Cemetery are in rural Jasper County, Missouri. There are close to eight acres representing the remnants of the Cave Spring community. The property is in Eastern Jasper County and not far from Lawrence County.

The cemetery has graves dating from 1840 to at least 2012 when the property was nominated for the National Register. The large cemetery is on a long narrow tract of land that's about 6.5 acres. The markers are varied from simple limestone slabs to granite blocks. The property is well maintained.

Interestingly, what's left of the Cave Spring community are two important institutions: a school and a cemetery.

The school building

The school was used for over 125 years spanning across the periods of rural school development.

During the Civil War, the building was the center of a small fort including a camp that housed the Missouri Enrolled Militia (Union) troops led by Capt. Green S. Stotts. Stotts used the building as company headquarters until the war was over in 1865, so the school had stopped during that time.

After the courthouse in Carthage was destroyed, the building served as a temporary courthouse.

In 1875, reconstruction of the building was necessary due to its treatment during the Civil War. Thereafter, the building was used as a school and social center. It was also a polling place and a place for church services. The school closed in 1966 because of rural school consolidation.

The cemetery

The cemetery has had a very long history. It contains an interment going back to 1840. This cemetery was important for the region and contains gravesites of early settlers as well as their descendants. The cemetery also represents the burial customs in the area.

More than likely, the cemetery began with early settler, William Duncan. When William's younger brother, Archibald, arrived in Missouri, he was only 17 and he died four years later. It's possible Archibald was the first to be interred in the cemetery.

In the mid-1840s, William's parents were interred in the cemetery. The cemetery may have begun as a family cemetery and was also used by the community of Cave Spring.

Visit here to see the memorials listed with photos of the markers from the Find-a-Grave website, which indicates there are 755 records.

Cave Spring

Cave Spring was the second oldest settlement in Jasper County and it was named after a nearby spring.

The homestead of William Duncan (1806-1892) was located in Cave Spring. He came to Cave Spring in the 1830s with his wife, parents, and young brother. He and his family were an influence on the community.

The Duncan family supported the building of the school. It's also believed William was a bricklayer as well as a Methodist minister. His two-story home made of brick was demolished in 1950. The Duncans had also donated land for the cemetery and some of their family members are buried there.

In 1967, the Sarcoxie R-3 School District some heirs of Cave Spring's original landowners transferred the school and grounds to the Eastern Jasper County Historic Sites Association.

Unfortunately, maintenance and upkeep of the building fell short due partly to funding and it had suffered deterioration by 2005. However, once the building was listed as an endangered property in Missouri, it gained response and recognition. Donations, a grant, and labor helped to restore the building.

Visit here to view some amazing photos at the school from 1890-1925. Visit here for photos from 1925-1939. Visit here for photos from 1939 to 1944, including students. Lastly, visit here to see students from 1945 to 1952.

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Multi-genre writer and author/publisher with a BA in Eng Journalism/Creative Writing. I worked in law firms for 30+ years and retired early to pursue writing. I was born into the Air Force, so you could say I'm from Louisiana, Idaho, Kauai, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Missouri. I love family, research, history, true crime, reading, art, and travel.

Kansas City, MO

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