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    Potter’s Field (The County Cemetery)

    Monica finds the neetest stuff while she’s digging through those old newspapers for the death notices. She sent this on today. If you’re feeling frisky, here’s the original clipping.

    One of the most strangely picturesque scenes in the county is that to be viewed from the summit of the commanding eminence on which the county burying ground is located. The “Potter’s Field,” as it is designated on the county map, is situated on the hill one-half mile north of Krug Park. The site is a most commanding one. Broad valleys, in which are located farm houses, and long ranges of high hills and deep ravines that are studded with beautiful woods are to be seen as far as the eye can reach, while the city, with its din and bustle and noise, nestles almost at the foot of the hill.

    There are thirty acres in the tract under fence and it has been owned by the county for more than forty years. It is estimated that during this period the remains of more than five thousand people have been interred there. It was the principal burying ground of the city many years ago, and the remains of many persons who were prominently identified with the development of St. Joseph in years gone by have found a resting place there.

    The remains of lawyers and doctors and ministers have been buried there. The tramp, the murderer and the suicide lie buried side by side. Infant children and gray-haired centenarians have been consigned to graves in this lonely spot. People of all ages and races and nationalities have been buried there.

    More than one monument and headstone that cost as much as $300 mark the last resting place of some prominent character. But they look strangely out of place in a territory covered with a thick growth of underbrush and rank growing weeds. The rough hewn pine slab marked “Unknown” is in the majority, and is more in keeping with the rugged appearance of the place today.

    There are always two open graves in the lonely spot. The sexton may dig them many weeks before they are required, but at all times there will be found two graves awaiting occupants. The colored dead are buried side by side, and the whites have a portion of the silent city allotted to them. Children are buried in the same corner, far away from older persons who fill graves within the confines of this place.

    Paupers are buried in one section and murderers and suicides in another. There are more than a thousand persons buried there who met death in a violent form. As near as can be estimated there are upwards of thirty murderers who have been consigned to graves there. Louis Bulling was the last of this class to be buried in this spot.

    The small tract of ground in the north east corner that is adorned with monuments and headstone [sic] was the original burying ground. Many prominent people were buried there when the graveyard was a beautiful spot. That was twenty years ago. Beauty has since given way to romance and picturesqueness. There is something strikingly romantic about the appearance of the place. It resembles a scene in a wilderness. Trees and flowers and grass and shrubbery have been permitted to grow there in profusion and blend together from nature’s training until the whole place has the appearance of some long neglected and deserted spot.

    James Gardner had charge of the place for many years before his death. He planted seed, and he planted the dead, and in this way he made a comfortable living for himself and family. He knew something about every person that had been buried there, and the life story of the murderer and suicide was on his tongue’s end.

    No one has ever endeavored to improve the place. But it ought to be done and it probably will. Judges Smith and Mansfield went out there some days ago with this object in view. Five hundred dollars will improve the place most wonderfully, and if this money can be spared this year the improvements will be made.

    Source: St. Joseph Daily News, 20 Feb 1892, p. 5, col. 1.

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