Explore Missouri

Explore Cemeteries in Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites

In 1967, the Missouri State Legislature enacted a statute requiring the State Park Board to “maintain every grave of a former governor within the state which is not within a perpetual care cemetery.” Today, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources maintains the graves of four Missouri governors.
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Photo of Olive and Nathan Boone’s tombstones in the family cemetery at Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site.
Olive and Nathan Boone’s tombstones stand in the family cemetery at Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site.
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MoDNR Photo by Ben Nickelson
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In addition, many of Missouri’s state parks and state historic sites contain the graves of famous Missouri families and their slaves.

Gov. Daniel Dunklin’s Grave State Historic Site

Gov. Daniel Dunklin’s Grave State Historic Site, situated on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River in
Herculaneum, houses the grave of Missouri’s fifth governor (1832-1836) and his wife, Emily. As governor, Dunklin oversaw the establishment of Missouri’s public school system and laid the  groundwork for the University of Missouri. He also advocated for the humane treatment of prisoners.

Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site

Jewell Cemetery State Historic Site, located within the city limits of Columbia, contains the grave of
Missouri’s 22nd governor, Charles Hardin (1875-1877), and descendants of George Jewell. The most famous of Jewell’s descendants buried here is his son, William Jewell, who died while establishing a college in Liberty, Missouri, that bears his name. The cemetery also contains about 20 unmarked graves, believed to be those of the family’s slaves.

Sappington Cemetery State Historic Site

Sappington Cemetery State Historic Site, near Arrow Rock, contains the grave of a prominent area doctor, Dr. John Sappington, along with many of his family members, including two Missouri governors.

Meredith Miles Marmaduke became Missouri's eighth governor, for nine months in 1844, after the death of Gov. Thomas Reynolds. Claiborne Fox Jackson, a strong supporter of the  Confederacy, was beginning his term as Missouri's 15th governor when the Civil War began and he was driven from Jefferson City by Union supporters. Both were married to daughters of Sappington.

Sappington also gave the family slaves a tract of ground as a burial place. Known as the "Sappington African American Cemetery," it is located on Route AA, one quarter of a mile south of the Sappington Cemetery. It became part of the state historic site in 2014.

Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site

One of many examples of a state historic site with an interesting cemetery can be found at Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site.

Nathan Boone Homestead State Historic Site, in Ash Grove, has both a family cemetery and a slave
cemetery. The family cemetery houses the graves of Nathan Boone, a son of the legendary Daniel Boone, his wife, Olive, and several other family members. The slave cemetery has numerous headstones, two of which have been found with names inscribed on them.

Before planning your trip, visit Missouri State Parks' website for more information.

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