Richardson Cemetery, a two-acre plot designated as a “burying ground” on March 1, 1867, and neglected for many years, has found a resurgence of interest after Bernie Wilde of the Arnold Historical Society, took on the task of reclaiming it in 2008.
Where is it? It t is located on Richardson Road, one-half mile West of I-55 and Vogel Road intersection.
The earliest Arnold settlers are buried there. There are about 239 graves in this cemetery. A deed of land recorded March 1, 1867, lists the owners of Skelton and Mary Richardson. For many years, one person did the grass-mowing, but trees and brush were overgrown, making it difficult to see the gravestones and history inside the cemetery. The large enclosed wall contains the Richardson family and all who married into the family.
In 2010, the Arnold Historical Society began to clean up the cemetery. One of the first civic endeavors was to replace the rusted entrance sign. A new sign which matches the original sign was made in 2010 by Warren Sign Company. The old sign was fastened on the back so visitors could still see the old sign.
Today, various students come to work in the cemetery to rake leaves, remove brush, pick up trash, wash gravestones, remove yucca plants, and reset broken gravestones. Students come away with a new respect for their ancestors and all cemeteries. The Society hires a person to mow the lawn.
Over the years, Bernie Wilde has had the assistance of many in the community, including Boy Scout Troop #744, members of the Arnold Historical Society, Ridgewood Junior High students, and other interested descendants. Tracy Rode who earned a Bachelor of Science at the University of Missouri, Columbia, and a Master of Science in Chemistry at Southeast MO State University initiated her work in 2002 for a research project to generate a map with details of all the stones included. Tracy said “This cemetery had always intrigued me. There is 150+ years of history here. With vandalism and general wear-and-tear, the residents of Arnold/Jefferson County needed to be aware of the potential loss of an important historic landmark. In order to preserve this treasure, it needs to be brought to the public eye.”
And then the Arnold Historical Society stepped in to help bring the overgrown cemetery into compliance, addressing safety issues with the overgrowth of trees and weeds. The grass had been trimmed by a nephew of Helen Siedler who is buried in the cemetery. Tracy originally had a map of the gravestones but due to a fire, the map was destroyed. Dave Hallemann, Jefferson County cemetery sleuth, has assisted with several documents relative to Richardson Cemetery.
Now Dr. Robin Hanson, cultural historian and anthropologist, has joined Bernie Wilde by documenting the history of the people buried here. Dr. Hanson is working on creating a new map of the cemetery, repairing gravestones, and rebuilding the historical and cultural background of the people who are buried in the cemetery.
New Discoveries at Historic Richardson Cemetery
A number of discoveries have come quickly. While walking through the cemetery to point out the boundary lines, Bernie and Dr. Hanson came upon an unexpected item—the head of a broken right femur lying out in the open.
With the recent heavy rains, apparently the bone had washed out of a container that housed human remains that had been relocated decades ago from a family plot near Meramec Bottom Road and I-55.
A few days later, Dr. Hanson identified the graves of Booker Preston Richardson and Nancy Cheatham, original owners of the land where the cemetery is located. Booker Richardson died November 30, 1841. His large estate was tied up in probate for years. Skelton Richardson was appointed Administrator of Booker’s Estate. Skelton and Mary Richardson then became the owners on March 1, 1867. Skelton died in Jefferson County in November 1906, and is presumably buried in Richardson Cemetery, although the gravestone has not been found.
Dr. Hanson is currently working on identifying all the individuals buried in the cemetery. The people buried here represent the rugged pioneer spirit that created this country. A number of the people buried in the cemetery took part in some of the most important events in American history. There are men who took part in every major war from 1812 through WWII (except for the Spanish-American War). It is also no surprise, given that this is Missouri, that both the Confederacy and the Union veterans are buried here, including at least one man who went overland to California for the gold rush, and returned home in time to fight in the Civil War. Also interred are a nephew of George Waters (original land owner of what would become Kimmswick), a great-nephew of Wilson P. Hunt, of Lucas-Hunt fame in St. Louis, and a direct descendant of French settlers who lived in St. Louis decades before the Louisiana Purchase.
Some of the families represented in the cemetery include Richardson, White, Hunt, Waters, Siedler, Hampel, Herrell, Roesch, Parke, Marx, Hock, Frederitzi, Brust and Diard.
A new Safety Mirror when exiting!
The road out of Richardson Cemetery has been a safety hazard for drivers….until now. Five years ago, Bernie asked the City of Arnold to provide a roadside mirror to provide safety for everyone; from Boy Scouts who mow the lawn twice a month, to classes Robin Hanson conducts, to Ridgewood Middle School students who come out to help each year, and many visitors to take care of their ancestors gravestones. This year, Ed Blattner came to the cemetery and saw first-hand how dangerous it is to exit the cemetery. Now, with a mirror
that shows traffic coming from the West on Richardson Road, the visitors can look straight ahead at the mirror. No more guessing whether it is safe to come out of the cemetery driveway. Thanks to the City for installing a mirror to promote safety in this area. (July, 2013)