Greenwood Cemetery was founded in 1874 by Herman Kreuger, a native German and member of St. Peter’s German Evangelical Church, to serve the African-American community of St. Louis. Situated on 31 acres, it is divided into 22 burial sections. Krueger’s descendants maintained the cemetery through the 1970s. It was sold in the 1980s, and gradually fell into disrepair. The last burials occurred there in 1993.
A number of famous African-Americans are buried there, including Harriett Scott, the wife of Dred Scott, and composer and blues pianist Walter Davis.
In 1999, the Friends of the Greenwood Cemetery, Inc., was formed to restore and preserve the site as a historical park and educational and tourism resource. Community support was enlisted, including grants from Southwestern Bell, the Whitaker Foundation and Monsanto. In 2002, ownership was officially transferred to the Friends. That year, archeologist Tim Baumann and 20 students from the University of Missouri-St. Louis undertook an assessment of the property’s non-burial cultural resources.
On Sept. 15, 200 Monsanto employees, organized by Monsanto’s volunteer program MonsanTogether, arrived at Greenwood to help continue to clean-up and restoration. The employees, from all over the United States and a few from outside the U.S., used power tools to clear brush, GPS systems to map grave locations, and shovels and other conventional tools. Here’s a report on what they did:
Etta Daniels, the cemetery’s archivist and historian, said this after the project was completed: “I just left the cemetery. I was there for two reasons. One was just to enjoy the ‘awesomeness’ of all the work that was done yesterday. The other was to look for grave sites. I keep a list of folks who are looking for ancestors. I decided to see what I could find in the section that Monsanto cleared yesterday. I had three names and was able to find all three!”
Williams Woods University maintains background information on the cemetery.
The web site for Friends of the Greenwood Cemetery, Inc.