by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Within an 8-mile radius of Grain Valley there are no less than sixteen cemeteries of which I am aware. In addition, there are a few family plots which I’ve only heard about in conversations with some of the long-time “locals.” About half of the cemeteries are fairly large, but some are quite small. I suspect the smaller ones were originally family plots with a few neighbors or close friends among the gravesites.
Except for two, all of the local cemeteries have graves which date back to the mid-1800s. Therefore, they would all be “historical,” as early pioneers are buried within their gates. In Pearl Wilcox’s book, Jackson County Pioneers, one can learn about the early settlers to this area. They came mostly from North Carolina, Virginia and Kentucky to settle in spots like Sibley, Pink Hill and Stony Point.
Green’s Chapel Cemetery is located northeast of Grain Valley on Steinhauser Road. Established in 1834, I believe it to be one of the oldest cemeteries in the county. It was established adjacent to Green’s Chapel Methodist Church which existed more than 40 years before the Methodist Episcopal Church South at Pink Hill.
The original stone church was falling down so it was replaced in the late 1800’s. When the property was sold, the church was moved to a location on the south side of Highway 24 just east of Fort Osage High School.
The current owner of the property, Mr. Stanley, was told that slaves were buried in unmarked graves next to the stone wall on the east side of the cemetery and across the road by the church on the south side of the cemetery.
Samuel Dickinson appears to have been the first person buried at Green’s Chapel Cemetery in 1834. He was born in Virginia in 1797 and came to Missouri with his wife Nancy (Pollette) in 1820.
After his death Nancy, and their six children moved to California. Other gravesites in the cemetery bare the names of some of Jackson County’s earliest pioneers. Among the names are Adams, Campbell, Harra, Grubb, Hanna, Neer, and Murphy.
St. Clair Cemetery is in a field at the top of a hill on East Holloway Road, north of Grain Valley. The little cemetery is no more than 20 feet square and appears to have fewer than 20 gravesites. The first grave is that of Mary Elizabeth St. Clair McFarlane (1833-1853) who died from childbirth. She was the eldest child of Robert and Elmira St. Clair.
Robert St. Clair (1807-1869) and his wife Elmira (Hewett) were married in Bedford Virginia in 1832. The St. Clair family (Robert, Elmira, and six children) drove from Roanoke County, Virginia, to Jackson County in the fall of 1843. They located in a one-room log cabin with a loft where the children slept.
Eventually St. Clair obtained five land patents totaling 1000 acres one mile north of Pink Hill. They increased the family to 10 children (5 boys and 5 girls) and built a 12-room house which was destroyed by fire when the Kansas Red Legs burned most of the town following Order No. 11.
Three of the sons, Charles, J. H. and Harvey, served with the Confederate army during the Civil War. Harvey was killed during the Battle of Port Gibson, Mississippi. Mrs. St. Clair died in 1865, just one day after the elder two sons returned home from the war.
Mr. St. Clair died on April 10, 1869 from gangrene. His arm had to be cut off after he was shot just above the elbow. Perhaps that’s a story for another time!
Next Week: Is William Quantrell’s wife buried near Grain Valley?