Friday, April 2, 2010

Exploring Joplin, MO - Cox Cemetery

Camera in hand, along with a list of places I want to visit, I am off to see what treasures await me in the cemeteries of Joplin, MO.

Cox Cemetery is my first stop. The cemetery is located on private property. Luckily the man who owns the property is in his garden with his wife and dog. So I have the pleasure of meeting the groundskeeper who gladly lets me in to wander around and take pictures. He never does tell me his name but he has a ton of stories to tell about the cemetery and its residents.

But first things first, a bit of history, Cox cemetery was used from 1857 to 1938. It is the oldest cemetery in Joplin, MO., and the final resting place for the founder of Joplin, John C. Cox. The cemetery is located on what was once John C. Cox's vast homestead, settled in 1838. The very first resident of the cemetery was John's brother.

Sadly like many old cemeteries it became lost to the underbrush for a number of years. In 1992 the Collen Belk Memorial John C. Cox Pioneer Cemetery Project (whew, what a mouth full) was established and dedicated to restoring and preserving this great historical cemetery. I must say they have done a pretty good job at cleaning it up. A lot still needs done but it is in far better shape then it was in.

(This sign is what greets you when you first turn into the homestead.)

Upon entering the cemetery I encountered a large fenced family plot, the Cox Family. A number of the stones have been replaced/restored and a large one has been erected in memory of John C. Cox and family.

(Cox family stone)

(one of the replaced stones)

While wandering around I noticed a large number of crosses that mark graves with no identifing information. One can only assume these stones were long gone or never were there to begin with. And to my amazement there is a sign located nearby with a list of the names that go with all the once unmarked graves now marked with white metal crosses. The GK (groundskeeper) sees me look at the list and says, "All the names on there came from either family members who know their family members are buried here or from death certificates."

(unmarked grave list)

I stood for a bit and listened to the GK, who was very eager to share the stories of the forever residents. He pointed at a stone in the far corner. "See that one?" he says. "Well, she was originally buried in the front yard of her and the mister's homestead. After she died he remarried and the new wife said she's gotta go. So he brought her here and reburied her." He is chuckling as he tells the later part of the story. (So people then were just as insecure as they are now.) Sadly her stone sits all alone in the corner. I wonder where her husband wound up?

(Sarah Page)

I love the stones that give you a hint of what happened but leave you wanting to know more. I found one that does that here. The stone belongs to Louis L Channell. It reads, "Assassinated on the night June 5, 1880." (I am still in the process of researching this one. I'll post more if I find anything.)

(Louis L Channell)

Winding up the visit ....

The GK and I chat for about an hour, honestly, he spent more time chatting with my friend Theresa than he did with me, but I did chat for a little bit. I was busying myself taking pictures and reading stones. Then later in the car she told me the stories I missed, which were mostly the stories about the numerous Civil War soldiers that reside in the cemetery.

It always makes things more interesting to hear the stories that the GKs have to tell. They generally know so much more then you can find on the internet and they give more life to the residents then just the stones.

If you are in Joplin, MO you should stop by and look around and chat with the GK. He's full of stories and willing to share them.

Happy Gravin'...


  1. Sure wish we could find someone like that at each cemetery we visit.

  2. I wander if I'm related to him,