Black Cemeteries in Cooper County, Missouri

June 2, 1999
Dear Traci,

I made this list of cemeteries where Black people are buried in Cooper County, MO – when I thought you were going to visit the Cooper County Historical Center in Pilot Grove, where our 10 volumes of Cemetery Records are available to everyone with charge – so I have named each of our ten volumes and cemeteries where there are sections for slave burials – but there are a number of cemeteries exclusively for Black people. But these lists do not have many dates nor much family data – I’m sorry – but the records are very poor in many cases.

I’m sorry that I can’t be of more help to you -- but the records are so poor all over the county. I hope that if you come back you will stop by to say "hello"


Helen B. Mitzel

The following are Cooper County Cemetery Records by
Elizabeth Prather Ellsberry and Helen B. Mitzel

Vol II
Harris: Luke – Black man hanged on tree in center of old fairgrounds – 1826 where St. Josephs’ Hospital was built and operated for many years by the Catholic Sisiter. Buried -- not known.
"Leonard Family Plot" on Ravenswood Farm in pasture across route 5 – a small area of this plot where some of the slaves where buried. Names ?? and dates carved on stones.
Wright Family Plot became the burial place of many of the church members from a church near Speed, MO. (see Vo. VII, page 71)
Wesley Chapel Methodist Church Cemetery Annex –Located on the north-side of the white cemetery – near Pilot Grove, MO.
Vol IV
Old Salem Missionary Baptist Church for Black people was in the area known as Jolly's Bottoms"  There are possibly two graves left at the old locations -- a small boy (Hattie Boles' little brother and another graves listed in this volume.  
New Salem Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery has been moved from it original location; now it is South of Gooch’s Mill Church Cemetery, MO (south of White cemetery) -- moved from "Jolly's Bottom to new location -- exclusively for Black people. 
Boonville Memorial Gardens Cemeterya new cemetery location for Blacks
New Lebanon Cemetery – in New Lebanon MO; has a separate section for Blacks with names and dates recorded by Mr. Eugene A. Cordry.
Vol V
Pleasant Grove Cemetery #_____: near Otterville, MO. This has been used by different organization – very old – used to be used by both Black and White people.
Woolridge-Hopkins Families Private CemeteryNear Woolridge, MO; (very well kept plot on high bluff over Missouri River – on the old Huck Woolridge Homestead.
Tuscumbia Free Will Baptist Church Cemetery1 miles due West of Bell Air, MO; road is closed; contact Charlies Leonard at Ravenswood to get gate unlocked. (See listing below)
Vol IX
Bethel AME Cemeterya new cemetery for a Black Church near Speed, MO
Walnut Grove Cemetery, No. #2 -- for Black and White people; very old cemetery – mostly used by Black people now – near Otterville, MO
Sunset Hill Cemetery in Bunceton, MO –Cemetery for Blacks.
Sunset Hill Cemetery for white people and Black people in Boonville, MO. These two cemeteries are in separate locations.
Vol X
Splice Creek Church Cemetery.
Pleasant Hill, #2, Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery --- for Black People, near Clarks Fork Cross Road.

 Vol XII
Redd-Gibson Family Plot for the "freed slaves." Names and dates?
Finely Family Plot for Black People Cemetery; near Otterville, MO
Additional Information About Cooper County Black Cemeteries

Old Hopkins Family Plots near New Lebanon, MO. Land owner will not give permission for people to visit these places?? Inquire of Mr. or Mrs. Sims of New Lebanon about burials here. Mitzel believe the gravesite was established for the Sims family and later was used by the church people. (The land was given by the Sim’s family or a church, school or cemetery.

Mt. Mariah (AME) Church Cemetery – a cemetery for Black people – located between New Lebanon, MO and Clifton City, MO -- out in the county. If you could contact Mr. and Mrs. Gene and Ada Simms in New Lebanon and can tell you about the families and their connections.

New Salem Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery is located near Gooch’s Mill – there is also a white cemetery – at old Gooch’s Mill, MO. The Old Salem Missionary Baptist Church cemetery for Blacks was an the area known as "Jolly’s Bottoms" -- buried here: Jolly’s Bottoms – 1 or 2 graves. There is a possibilty that there are 2 graves left at the old location – a small boy (Hattis Boles’ Little brother and another grave listed in vol IV. New Salem Missionary Baptist Church Cemtery moved from Jolly’s Bottom to new location –exclusively for the Tuscumbia Free Mill Baptist Church, cemetery and school.

There was at one time in a public school, "The Bell Air Negro School" for the Black children of the neighborhoods, dating back many years. In 1913 the congregation of the Free Will Baptist Church purchased on acre of land afdjoining this school year from Mr. Dan Hawkins and built a pretty white Church with a bell towner and established a cemtery close by the church. Sometime about the middle of the last century the church was abandoned, as the members has all passed away or moved away.

The cemetery remains with a new fence around it and on Memorial Day the descendents would come to visit and bring flowers to the graves.  But at present (1999), the road has become impossible for cars -- so it has been closed by Charlie Leonard.  The Church building stood until about 10 years ago when it burned down.  The Leonards were burning bruch in a field to the South -- there was a strong wind from the South and  the fire travelled onto our side and burned the Church and all of our hayfield (30 acres). 

Tuscumbia Free Will Baptist Cemetery

About 10 years ago, my husband had a large marker placed at this cemetery with the names of the persons buried there -- we felt that the market might help preserve this small plot, for these dear old people -- some of whom had helped our father at times, with farmwork. The following list was supplied by Mrs. Beatrice Williams and Mr. George Buckner and his sister Polly Byrd Buckner, wife of Halley Buckner.

Watkins: Emmett no marker, no dates
Watkins, Mary, his wife, no marker, no dates
Watkins, Vida, no marker, no dates
Watkins, Lula, no marker, no dates
Walker, Visa no marker, no dates
Walker, Lula, no marker, no dates
Wilson, Emil, no marker, no dates
Emery, Louise, no marker, no dates
Smith, Jennie; no marker, no dates
Smith, Jeannie Ann; no marker, no dates
Baylor, Jesa; no marker, no dates
Hawkins, Dan; no marker, no dates
Williams, Leslie; no marker, no dates
Williams, Theodore, "Thee"; no marker, no dates
Williams, Fannie nee' Watkins; no dates; 
wife of Leslie Williams; daughter of Emmett & Mary ______ Watkins.
Fry, Arthur; no marker, no dates
Bailey, Jessie, no marker, no dates