I am always concerned about lost cemeteries. Most people would imagine that once they bury their loved ones, that hallowed ground would remain forever so. Unfortunately, I have seen too many cases where this was the exception rather than the rule. One such case came to my attention this week from Cape Giradeau County, Missouri, in the News Leader newspaper.
Shady Grove Cemetery in southeast Missouri near Dutchtown houses the remains of area residents from 1887 to 1972. Several books have been written on the Shady Grove area, a rural black community whose residents came from surrounding towns and slave-holding estates. Two noted in the article: “Rural Schools and Communities in Cape Girardeau County” by Christabel Lacy and Bob White; and “Dark Woods and Periwinkle: A Glance Back at Shady Grove” by Diana Steele-Bryant and Sharon Sanders. In Dark Woods the authors noted that 245 burials in Shady Grove cemetery were documented utilizing mortuary records and obituaries from local newspapers. Unfortunately, even this publicity has been unable to revive the cemetery which sits overgrown with poison ivy and weeds.
For me, the article raised more questions than it answered including whether or not anyone was actively pursuing National Register of Historic Places paperwork mentioned, where one could find the names of the individuals buried within, and if there were plans in place for a cleanup effort.
I have requested further information from contacts listed in the article. I will report back when I hear.