History of City Owned Cemeteries

Historical Background of our City Owned Cemeteries

Excerpts from Historic Preservation's Cemetery Tour Brochures and A Few Gravesites of Interest
Information provided by Mark Schreiber
Pictures by Donald Beck

There was a small number of pioneering men and women who helped make our city, state, and nation what it is today.  According to Good Speed's 1888 History of Missouri, there were about 31 families living in Jefferson City in November of 1826.  The majority lived in the area where Lohman's Landing and the Governor's Mansion now stand.

Most original settlers of Jefferson City came from Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and the Carolinas.  Many of Jefferson City's pioneer families are buried at Woodland and the Old City cemeteries. The vast majority of the early pioneers were of nearly pure English and African American ancestry.  The influence of German settlers was not seen significantly until the middle to late 1830's.

The City of Jefferson was incorporated on November 7, 1825.  James Dunnica, William Jones, Jesse F. Royston, Josiah Ramsey and Daniel Colgan were named as trustees.  A year later, the State Capitol building was completed by James Dunnica, firmly establishing Jefferson City as the state capitol.  McDaniel Davis established the first distillery here; Daniel Colgan operated the earliest store which was located near the current capitol grounds.  The first issue of the "Jeffersonian Republican" was printed January 24, 1826.  Calvin Gunn and W.F. Dunnica operated the paper.  I.B. Read, who would later found the Woodland Cemetery, opened a store in 1828.  From this small group of early pioneers, the City of Jefferson was formed.  Joshua Chambers, the last of those original pioneers, died in 1878.

As the City of Jefferson grew, so did the need to establish an organized appropriate burial site for residents who died.  Outlot No. 38 was set aside as a graveyard during the early days of the town.  Although now located in the middle of Jefferson City, at the time it was established, "Old City Cemetery" was on the outskirts of the city and stands as a reminder of our early heritage. 

Research compiled by Mark S. Schreiber indicates there are a total of 1,794 burials with markers in the Old City and Woodland Cemeteries.  Of those 437 are children.  Besides a number of state officials and early mayors of Jefferson City, there are 15 pioneer physicians, six sheriffs, eight former chiefs of police, three prison wardens and two known Revolutionary war soldiers buried in the cemeteries.