People & Places

Best Cemetery 

Greenwood Cemetery

While St. Louis is certainly graced with its fair quota of elegant cemeteries, Greenwood Cemetery arguably does the best job of epitomizing St. Louis' tenacious character. As an un-endowed cemetery serving St. Louis' African American community since the 1870s, Greenwood has been forced to fend for itself. A small team of volunteers has managed to beat back at least some of the 31.89 acres of brambles and vines covering the graves of such St. Louis luminaries as Dred Scott's widow, Harriet; bluesman Walter Davis; U.S. Colored Troops veterans; and Lee Shelton, of "Stagger Lee" fame. These volunteers have managed to get the cemetery on the National Register of Historic Places, but the uphill struggle seems endless. A 78-year-old man saved up $350 for a modest granite marker for his grandmother, lugged it in on a dolly himself and has come regularly to mow around her grave. His children and grandchildren, he says, have all moved away. A few yards away, the weeds and grasses obscure homemade headstones, but he has taken it on himself to tend all the burials in his grandmother's row. A small strip, at least, resembles the manicured cemeteries St. Louis is known for.

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