Dutchtown Cemetery on Ridge

There’s an old cemetery atop a ridge overlooking Dutchtown that I feel compelled to visit every time I come to Cape. There’s no particular reason to go up there. We have no family buried there. I’ve never followed a hearse up the steep, narrow road to the burying ground, but something calls me.

Cemetery over 125 years old in 1967

A Missourian story about the closing of Dutchtown’s St. Edward’s Catholic Church said the cemetery was more than 125 years old in 1967. That would put it between 175 and 200 years old today. I’m going to take that with a tiny grain of salt.

The cemetery was located on the hill because much of the surrounding land was swamp.

The first St. Edward’s, a frame building, was built in 1898, but burned January 29, 1928. The first mass in church that served the community for 69 years was offered in 1928. A nationwide shortage of priests was given as the reason for the 1967 closure.

You can see the steeple of the church in the background of a Frony photo of Dutchtown that Fred Lynch used in his blog. Librarian Sharon Sanders has two stories about the church in her column.

Coffins carried at shoulder level

The Missourian story said parishioners recalled seeing pallbearers. sometimes walking in the rain, bearing coffins at shoulder level up this steep hill. It’s paved these days, but it’s still a tough pull in my car. I’d hate to think of carrying a coffin up there. [I was trying to figure out whether “coffin” or “casket” was the correct term and have to admit I didn’t know the difference. A coffin, I found, is defined as a funerary box with six sides, generally tapered around the shoulders; a casket is generally four-sided.]

Photographed for years and different seasons

These photos were taken over several years and in different seasons. This was taken Oct. 27, 2011.

Cemetery well-maintained

The fenced part of the cemetery is well-maintained.

Path leads to ridge

At the top of the narrow road is a small space just barely big enough to turn around. If you walk to your right up the hill and through a gate, you enter the fenced-in cemetery. If you go straight up, you’re taken to a trail that runs along the ridge. That’s the part I find most fascinating.

Tombstones scattered all over hill

As you walk along the ridge, you encounter a dozen or more tombstones scattered apparently randomly all over the hillside. Some of them are large; some of them mark the final resting places of whole families. It’s daunting enough to think of getting a coffin up there; I don’t know what kind of effort it would take to haul a tombstone weighing several hundreds of pounds that high.

Markers from before 1900

One small stone marks the grave of an infant who was born in 1896 and died “aged 11 M 25 D.”  The inscription reads, “A little infant of ours so dear lies sweetly sleeping here.”

Find A Grave has some information

The website Find A Grave has some information about the site. It lists two “famous” internments:

  • John Lockee – a member of Company H for the Illinois Artillery. He was killed in the Civil War.
  • L. Jackson Summerlin – born 1845, died 1916. His property became what is known as Dutchtown Cemetery. His family plot is one that sits outside the fenced area.

Here is a partial list of other  internments from Find A Grave. Here’s a more complete list compiled by an individual.

Photo gallery of Dutchtown cemetery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery. Please chime in if you know anything about the place. I haven’t found much information on it.


10 Replies to “Dutchtown Cemetery on Ridge”

  1. Ah, scooped again! Ken, you have reported on a topic that I’ve always wanted to research! Every time I pass through Dutchtown on the way home to Advance, I’ve wanted to veer to the right and head up into the unknown. Why haven’t I done it? Perhaps it’s a fear of driving a vehicle up to the top, only to find no place to turn around and get back down.
    There’s another remote cemetery closer to home on top of Cow Hill, which is one of those “lost hills” near Painton, MO. For years, I’ve vowed to go up there in the fall (after the snakes have gone into hibernation). It will require hiking boots, weaponry, and permission from the family living at the bottom of the hill. I need to do this before the old-timers are gone, taking their knowledge with them. In fact, I would like to take one of these old-timers with me, so she can point out where her aunt is buried.
    If you’re in the area in the early fall, give me a call. You might be just the incentive I need to overcome my natural tendency to procrastinate!

  2. As Bob White and I were working on the Shady Grove Cemetery we would be asked if it was the one on the hill at Dutchtown. It seems as though the Dutchtown Cemetery is well known for some reason.

  3. Great pictures, Ken!
    I took a group cemetery tour there with Dr. Frank Nickell. Did you know that there are many slaves that are also buried there on the hillside, but their graves are no longer marked.

  4. In doing our family genealogy I have recorded 16 of my ancestors that lived and/or died in Dutchtown. I actually visited this cemetery with my father and Uncle Jack Hinton sometime around 1966.

    If you’d like some more information, I’ll gladly share with you the information that I do have.

    I have several 3rd and 4th great grandfather’s and grandmother’s buried on this hill, and the grave marker photo that looks like a miniature Washington Monument has my family buried around it.


    Jim Hinton

  5. You have to go to the old cemetary at Commerce. You’ll have to stop and ask someone in town how to get up on the hill. After you pass Hanners house you will have to walk up. It is no longer cared for but is so interesting and the view is unreal!

    1. I’ll have to put it on my list.

      It probably doesn’t get many visitors and the chiggers should be hungry. That’s one thing I like about living in Florida. We don’t have chiggers along the SE coast. (We don’t have fireflies, either, but I miss THEM.)

  6. Bob
    My Grandpa Martin Greaser was buried there in 1928. Grandma Mary was buried there in 1964. Uncle Cliff Mc Cune was buried there in 1928.Aunt Lena buried in 1984. I helped carry Grandma and Aunt Lena up the hill.There were 8 pallbearers for each. And the hill was gravel.The fenced area was was the church cemetary. Around it was the Dutchtown Cemetary. Suppose to be a slave cemetary nearby. Was told that it was close to Pecan Grove School. My Grandama and Aunt Lena lived next to the church and would fix the Priest’s breakast every Sunday morning.

  7. What a joy to learn of the interest and photo gallery of the Dutchtown Cemetery. I have attended several funerals there while growing up in this area. My Paternal Grandparents, Martin/Nellie Fredrick, and Aunts and Uncles are resting “up on the Hill”. My father was born on the old family farm at Hubble Creek in Dutchtown. I have not been up there for almost 40 years or so, but I do think about it often. I want to thank the caretakers for keeping this place so beautiful.

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