Fairmount Cemetery

Fairmount Cemetery was established in or about 1882, by the City of Cape Girardeau and was known as City or New City Cemetery prior to around 1917. It is often mistaken as a catholic cemetery due to its proximity to its location by the former Notre Dame High School. There are approximately 9,508 grave spaces in the cemetery.

This has been separated into twelve (12) areas. These areas are sections Old (which is subdivided into areas A, B and C), sections one (1) through eleven (11). Section eleven (11) was recognized as the New Colored Section for many years. Section eleven (11) directly adjoins the north edge of the New Lorimier Cemetery, section seven (7). 

The sales records that were kept were very incomplete. Many sales were never recorded and due to this many mistakes were found to have been made, such as double sales of individual grave spaces and grave lots. Due to these many errors for almost thirty (30) years there were no new sales in most areas of the cemetery. Many firms, community wide, responsible for selling the grave spaces to the families did not forward the money to the City Clerk's office, so no deed was issued and no record of sale made. Thus the spaces remained open for sale in the Cemetery records after they had been used for burial. For this reason no ownership records exist for burials in many plots. 

This is especially noted in sections three (3), four (4), six (6) and seven (7). There have been many grave spaces given free of charge, due to multiple ownership claims. These spaces were given when a person could show a receipt of ownership from the seller of the grave. No burial records were kept or none are known to exist prior to 1967. Many of the records prior to 1983 are not always correct. All records that are currently in use have been created from years of research. This done by walking of the cemetery row for row taking a census of the names and dates on the monuments as well as many hundreds of hours of research of funeral home records and city mortuary records. Many corrections and revisions have been made over the years to these records.

Apparently the order in which the graves are numbered was not known by some of the grave diggers in the past, so the burials in some lots in sections one (1) through nine (9) are reversed from the order in which the graves are listed in the sales records. Thus grave one (1) in the sales record may be grave eight (8) in the burial records, and so with graves two (2) and seven (7) and graves three (3) and six (6) and graves four (4) and five (5). Each gravesite should be checked for possible prior burial, before any grave space is sold or grave opening is attempted.

Single Rows
Some of the sections contain lots that were used as single rows, these being for sale to persons that did not need or wish to purchase the required number of graves in other areas. This found primarily in Old Section, Areas A (eastern part) and C (western part), Section three (3) east and north and in Section four (4). In most of the Cemetery for many years, grave spaces were sold only in blocks of four (4), half lots or eight (8), whole lots. A person wishing to purchase less than four (4) graves would only be able to do so in the single row area. Many persons bought more spaces than they needed to avoid the single row areas, this is why many lots have unused grave spaces.

Section OLD
The Old Section was divided into three parts, these being A, B, and C. Lots that have a number followed by a letter, are usually located on the north side of the cemetery area C. Some are located in center of area B and C running south to north, this was left for a drive originally. The part of area C from eighty (80) foot north of the south edge of the area was originally designated as a commons area (free ground). This area had no lot numbers and grave spaces were plotted as two (2), three (3) or four (4) per row per group. This area was given the present numbering at a later time for record keeping purposes, date unknown. 

Free Ground, Paupers, Commons Area
A large part of the cemetery, noted by some as “Area C” of the Section Old was used for the burial of indigent persons, known by most people as the “Free Ground”, “Paupers” or “Commons” ground during the 1880's to the 1940's. Some burials during this time period were recorded as a “Row” given a number followed by “Grave” number. There are very few monuments marking the burials in the area and no record for the order of burials has been determined. During that time period the cemetery was segregated, persons of different races were buried in separate areas. To aid us in attempting to locate and record burials in this area, it is necessary for us to denote the persons buried there by color, sex and/or age at death. Any and all references to these notes are for identification purposes only.

It is not known exactly how many burials or the number of grave spaces used for burials in these areas, but the size estimate of the area believed used is as follows. The free ground (paupers) area (infant, adult, white, black) estimate is a minimum of 2450 grave spaces, with another possible 620 spaces not plotted, but believed to be used for the burial of indigent persons, these were persons whose family was unable or unwilling to pay for a space. The open area between rows, called walkways, was used for burials and the standard grave space was subdivided to allow for multiple burials. This was done to increase the available space.

The eastern part, the first thirteen (13) lot rows, with exception to the first five (5) lots north of drive from east to west were used for the burials of persons of color also referred to as colored or black persons. An embankment along the northeast corner of this area covers some spaces, it is not known if there are any burials on an embankment on the eastern most part.

The western part of area C, with exception to the first five (5) lots north of drive from east to west was used for the burial of indigent persons (paupers) of the white color, with a few noted as yellow skinned. The north and northeast part of section three (3) which directly adjoins Area C to the west was used from the 1910's to the mid 1950's, primarily for the burial of white stillborn infants and young children. This area was needed due to the high mortality rate of the period. 

Most of these were children of persons who could not afford the cost of burial of the child or a grave space in another part of the cemetery, or in some cases they wanted the child buried in the same area as other children. This area was known to many as "Babyland". Later a part of this area was used for the burial of white adults. The approximate number of grave spaces in this area is 500. The grave spaces in most of the area was used for the burial of more than one infant meaning more than one infant was buried in each space.

Free Ground, Paupers, Commons Area
The entire “Commons”, “Paupers”, Free Ground” area contains an unknown number of burials, most of these are not marked, it is not known and probably will never be known just how many persons were buried in the area, as burial records kept by the various funeral homes and by the city are very vague. Most times the record only states the person was buried in the cemetery.

It is believed that there are no graves available for use in this area. Some of the markers there may have been moved from their original location, this done by a previous supervisor that had wishes for a drive to connect back to Caruthers Avenue, this done in lots on north side of the cemetery. If these were not moved they may have helped to locate other burials. The area denoted by letter on the north side is not on any of the original plats of the cemetery; it extends approximately twenty-four (24) feet to the north in some spots. 

Research of mortuary records available at the time of these notes, show that from 1882 to the 1960’s at least 2250 persons, known by name but not as to the exact location of burial were interred in the cemetery. There may be many more because the city mortuary records were discontinued in 1933, this being the primary source of record of this type of burial. Not all of these burials were in the free or paupers area, but it is not known as to the exact location of the burials in any other part of the cemetery. In some instances the person may have owned a grave space but there was no money available to bury them, so the grave owned was used and the charges were paid by the county.

It is believed that there was a decline in the use of this area after 1935. This decline was steady by an average of two (2) less indigent persons per year, to a yearly average of about twenty (20) over the next thirty (30) years. This meaning there may be as many as 600 additional persons buried there.

Lots seven, seventeen and twenty-seven were sold due to their use as a cross drive. In 1999 a row of lots numbered ten(A), twenty(A) and thirty(A) were added to the west end of the section where a driveway had been planned but never used.

The eastern row of this area was used as a single grave area. The majority of lots in the section were sold in four (4) half and eight (8) grave whole lots. Several graves in lots in the east and north part of this section are believed to have been used for the burial of persons who were unable to purchase a lot in the cemetery. It is not known how many were used for this.

Lots numbered eighty-one (81) through one hundred (100) in this section, directly adjoin the north side of the platted area of the section. These lots are only shown platted on the original plot of section three (3) in the old record book of the cemetery. The majority of this area is believed to have been used for the burial of infants and young children, this referred to by many persons as "BABYLAND". 

The “Indigent” and “Babyland” areas have all the available grave spaces used, with most of them not having any type of marker or monument. There is no record of burials in this area. This is a continuation of the area used for the same purposes in area C of the Old Section. 

The markers that were located in the south half of lots eighty-one (81) through ninety (90) may have been moved many years ago to make room for a driveway, which was never placed there.

This section contains many so-called single rows, this being rows where persons could buy less than the required four (4) or eight (8) graves. Many of these graves are not marked and contain the remains of many persons unknown to us at this time. One row of lots was added to the west side of this section. It is numbered 51, 52, 53, 54 and 55. This was used for grave spaces when a driveway was deemed unnecessary to develop. Most of this area does not have ownership records that show purchase of the grave space. 

This area was originally platted to contain lots numbered up to one hundred (100), later it was changed to end with lot eighty (80). The remaining lots were developed creating the east half of section ten (10). It is believed that as many as ten (10) burials may be located in the corridor between section six (6) and section (10), but there are no records of this.

Some of this area does not have ownership records that show purchase of the grave spaces. It is believed that many were used but record of sales or burial has been found. It is believed that many of the graves in this area contain unmarked, unknown burials. 

A small part of this section and large part of section six (6), section nine (9) and section (10) were undeveloped for many years. This is part of the reason why grave sales in the 1970's and later being directly adjacent to graves sold in the 1940's. Plus the fact that for 30 years there was a moratorium on grave sales in this area due to the many errors and to differentials between sales and burials. 

Some of this area includes burials of persons that are not known as to name or exact location of burial. Part of this section was used for what was known as single rows. 

The lots numbered one (1) and eleven (11) in the east part of the section and the lots numbered thirty-one (31) through forty (40) in the west half of the section were set aside and intended to be used for the burial of indigent persons. This area is not segregated. In this area, grave spaces in which babies were interred may contain two (2), three (3) or four (4) infants in one grave space. Many were not recorded as to the exact location of burial.

This area was established in the early 1940's for the burial of black persons, thus the name the area was known by for many years, New Colored Section. There was a part of it used for the burial of indigent black persons at one time, the exact time period is not known. There have been additions to this section that have increased the number of grave spaces. A letter following the number notes the lots that have been created by the increases. Many of the graves have no markers and are not known as to who may be interred there in.

Notes by:
Terrell Weaver
January 1994, March 2010

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