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Old Picker's Cemetery

There are certainly bigger cemeteries in St. Louis, and there are probably nicer ones. There may even be a few that are a little bit older. But Old Picker's Cemetery, now part of the Gatewood Gardens complex, has something you just can't find anywhere else — an unearthliness, if you will. Named for Frederick Picker, a pastor at the German Independent Protestant Evangelical Church of the Holy Ghost from 1843 to 1855, Old Picker's Cemetery carries with it a bit of odd nomenclature: The land now known as Old Picker's was once upon a time New Picker's, with the original Picker's (occasionally referred to as "Old Old Picker's" in records) located on what is now the grounds of Roosevelt High School in south city. New Picker's is just across the street. (Or should that be "New New Picker's?") The graves here are old, and many are massive, though there are also tiny markers for tiny victims of cholera, their birth and death dates distressingly close. Some are crooked, some are almost twisted, as if those who lay underneath misunderstood the old trope about spinning. There is something serene and yet something not quite comfortable about this place; you're never more than a few hundred yards from the street, yet the cars driving by seem much farther away. There are places in our city where the past seems to be close and gaining, and the ghosts just a little unquiet. Old Picker's Cemetery is one of those places.

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