Pioneer Cemetery Richmond, Missouri
N 39° 17.113 W 093° 58.578
15S E 415800 N 4348882
Quick Description: An historic cemetery that lies a little northwest from the town square in Richmond, Missouri has new life and a monument to Mormon pioneers; but, it also contains the gravestone of the notorious civil war guerrilla leader "Bloody Bill" Anderson.
Location: Missouri, United States
Date Posted: 8/12/2009 1:51:23 PM
Waymark Code: WM704D
In Tour 2 of the Writers Project Guide is a description of Richmond, Missouri including this account of the Richmond Cemetery:
“The Richmond Cemetery, N. Thornton St., about four blocks northwest of the courthouse, contains the unmarked grave of Captain Bill Anderson, Confederate guerrilla who was killed at the battle of Albany in Ray County, October 27, 1864. After the war, when the Cole Younger Circus and Wild West Show played Richmond, Cole Younger, who had fought with Anderson, learned that no funeral had accompanied his friend’s burial. He hired a preacher, had his circus band provide music, and conducted ceremonies at Anderson’s grave. The cemetery also contains the graves of Colonel Benjamin P. Brown, killed at the Battle of Wilson’s Creek; Austin A. King, governor of Missouri 1848-1849; and David Witmer and Oliver Cowdery, two of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon. Cowdery was the scribe who recorded the words of the Golden Plates from which Joseph Smith is said to have translated the text.” MISSOURI- A Guide to the "Show-Me" State--compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Works Projects administration. (1941)
The purpose of my summer drive to explore Richmond, Missouri and the surrounding area was mainly to see the new Ike Skelton bridge across the Missouri River, but I had also seen the Waymark on the statue of Alexander Doniphan in the town square and wanted to see that too.
But, the thing that really intrigued me was WPA guide’s account of Richmond’s old Pioneer Cemetery and just who lay buried there. My visit to the cemetery was a pleasant surprise because it was so beautifully maintained. Let’s discover why.
In addition to pioneers of the city, a notorious Confederate guerrilla was buried there in 1864 by the name of "Bloody Bill" Anderson. The WPA guide indicated his was an unmarked grave.
In 1911, an important monument was dedicated to several Mormon pioneers and the commemoration included a concert in the local opera house by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, who were returning to Salt Lake City. Their extensive concert series on the east coast had included Madison Square Garden in New York City and the White House. So these gentlemen were very important to the followers of Joseph Smith in Utah.
In 1949, the Mormons in Salt Lake took a real interest in seeing that the cemetery be maintained after it had fallen into disrepair. Church officials wanted it to be fixed up and maintained, because some of the people important to their faith lie buried there. Those names are David Witmer and Oliver Cowdery. The landscape architect sent from Temple Square in Salt Lake City was Irving T. Nelson who had a fine plan.
So, today the cemetery is delightful as a green space in the city. It looks more like a park than a cemetery with a very handsome monument, park benches and floral plantings in one corner of the plot of land shaded by many trees.
However, over in extreme southwest corner is a small stone for the notorious William T. Anderson (Bloody Bill) who was killed in the 1864 Battle of Albany, Missouri of the American Civil War. After that battle was over his body was brought to Richmond for display purposes. He was finally buried in an unmarked grave in the old Pioneer Cemetery.
After the visit to the Pioneer Cemetery I also visited the Sunny Slope Cemetery in the western part of the city to find the grave marker of Missouri Governor Austin King and Bob Ford, the man who shot Jesse James. Both Jesse and Cole Younger had ridden with Bloody Bill Anderson’s guerrilla band.
After a little searching near Orrick, Missouri a little north of Missouri Highway 210, I also found the hillside monument marking the Battle of Albany and the death of Bloody Bill placed there in 1988.
So, in summary the search for a little Missouri history was well worth the drive. Saw the new bridge and a stretch of the Missouri River I’d never seen before. Then seeing the Richmond town square and the Alexander Doniphan statue was cool too! But the highlight was finding the Pioneer Cemetery and the improvements there since the Writers Project wrote about it in 1941,and then exploring for the Battle of Albany monument near Orrick.
Chronology of events:
1864-- Bloody Bill Anderson unceremoniously buried there
1900-- Opera House built- patterned after one in Colorado mining town
1903– Cole Younger and his circus & wild west show pays respects
1911–Mormon Church and Richmond officials, including Mormon Tabernacle Choir dedicates monument in cemetery for church pioneers at opera house
1918--Statue of Alexander Doniphan dedicated in Richmond town square
1949– Cemetery renovation by landscape architect Irving T. Nelson
1988– Battle of Albany Confederate marker for Anderson and his men killed dedicated near Orrick, MO
Page Number(s) of Excerpt: 376-377
Year Originally Published: 1941
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