Calvary Cemetery was established in 1854. The property was purchased from Henry Clay in 1853 and today is 470 acres. Archbishop Kenrick purchased this property and the land that would become Rock Springs Cemetery. There were human remains located on the property before Archbishop Kenrick purchased it. It served as a burial ground for Native Americans, soldiers from Fort Bellefontaine, and the Clay family. These remains were relocated and places into a massive grave on the property.
1000 Gravestones Removed from Calvary Cemetery
Map of Calvary Cemetery
Backstory and Context
Several catholic graveyards, Rock Springs, Old St. Patrick’s, Holy Trinity, and Old Cathedral, were relocated to Calvary throughout the mid-1800s and early 1900s. Remains from St. Bridget of Erin were moved into a massive, unmarked grave in 1960. It is unclear what happened to the headstones that were at St. Bridget of Erin and other graveyards.
Most human remains were placed in a massive unmarked gravesite at Calvary. However, some of the human remains that could be linked to a headstone were buried individually and with the original grave marker. Eventually, due to the wear of the grave markers, Calvary would remove 1000 gravestones without consulting lot owners or families.
Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum is the neighbor of Calvary. The two are only divided by a road, Calvary Ave. Despite the closeness, the two cemeteries couldn't be more different. Bellefontaine predates Calvary only by a few years. Calvary is a catholic cemetery, while Bellefontaine is open to every belief or lack of belief.
“1000 Gravestones Removed from Calvary Cemetery.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5 Aug. 1951, p. 3, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/97970271/1000-gravestones-removed-from-calvary/.
“Bellefontaine and Calvary Rural Cemetery Association.” Daily Missouri Republican, 20 Oct. 1867, p. 2, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/96746625/bellefontaine-and-calvary-rural/.
“Cemetery History.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 25 Mar. 1894, p. 30, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/64074045/cemetery-history/.
“Clay Farm Bought for Calvary.” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, 22 Nov. 1891, p. 29, https://www.newspapers.com/clip/97967356/clay-farm-bought-for-calvary/.
Eardley, Linda. “Excavated Remains Prove to Be From Old Cemetery.” St. Louis Post Dispatch, Nov. 1987, p. 5.
“Historical Data on Burial Grounds of St. Louis.” Calvary Cemetery Association, 1913.
Smith, Jeffery. “Working the ‘graveyard Shift’ at Ikea.” St. Louis Post Dispatch, June 2014, p. A017.
St. Louis Post Dispatch
Calvary Cemetery Association