Stoddard County Poor Farm Cemetery

Someone on Facebook asked about the County Farm Home that was located at what is now North County Park. I mentioned that I had taken a photo of the small monument “IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO DIED IN OUT COUNTY FARM HOME” when I did a story about Memorial Park Cemetery on the other side of the highway.

Stoddard County Poor Farm Memorial

That reminded me that I had photographed the much more touching Stoddard County memorial across from the Bloomfield Missouri Veterans Cemetery and just down the road from the Stars and Stripes Museum and the Stoddard County Confederate Memorial.

Sanctuary of Peace

This memorial has been erected as a tribute to all those men, women and children who were laid to rest in the Stoddard County Poor Farm Cemetery in Bloomfield, Mo.

From circa 1860 to 1967, these individuals were buried in the Stoddard County Poor Farm Cemetery because society deemed them poor, medically or mentally unhealthy. This memorial stands as a permanent reminder of those named individuals and unknown souls. We now recognize these people as our beloved ancestors who were lost but now are found.

May this site serve as their final resting place and a sanctuary of peace.

Gallery of the known

Here are closeups of the names in the memorial. There was one old individual stone in the grove that indicated that a J.R. Barnett had died in 1933.

Old Notre Dame High School

Brother Mark, Mother and I were taking a short cut through New Lorimier Cemetery so we could see if the flowers were still on Dad’s grave. They were. Instead of cutting through Fairmount Cemetery and coming out near the library, I whipped a left to get a mug shot of the old Notre Dame High School. I knew I had some photos of some school plays and other activities, so it would be good to bag something new to go along with them.

As it turned out, the light was really nice on the building this afternoon. What surprised me when I was half-way to the entrance was all the graffiti on the front of the building. And, it looked old. Surely this wouldn’t have been allowed to stay there when I was in school.

On closed examination, though, it was a mural or artwork. The drawing styles were different, but the line thickness and spacing indicated they had been done by the same artist. I did a quick Google and Missourian archive search, but didn’t come up with anything that would tell when it was done or who the artist was.


I was also quite taken by the simple Madonna on the southeast wall.

The Notre Dame High School web site has a good summary of the history of the school.

Notre Dame was also a target in the notorious toilet paper wars of the 60s, but this particular stunt went sadly wrong.

Notre Dame High School photo gallery

Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side to move through the gallery.

High Hill Church and Cemetery

Coming back from shooting the Tower Rock Quarry, Friend Shari suggested we go downtown to the Bluegrass festival. Rather than taking my normal route out of Altenburg, I said, “Let’s take the scenic route. That should drop us on 177 and we can go in from the northeast side of Cape.” (You can click on any photo to make it larger, by the way.)

“Let’s take the scenic route” would have been something I would liked to have said when we were dating, except that (a) I didn’t have my license yet and (b) Dad was a pretty good guy, but I’m not sure he, as designated driver, would have gone along with the idea. So, four decades too late, I’m married, in a minivan, in broad daylight, taking the “scenic route.” Somehow it just isn’t quite the same.

We went straight UP

I didn’t realize just HOW scenic it was. Shortly after turning off Hwy CC from C toward the Apple Creek Conservation area, we went straight up. I mean like waiting for the oxygen masks to deploy from the overhead storage compartment straight up. We were headed for the ridges.

See, back in the days before heavy construction equipment was even thought of, road builders didn’t have the ability to cut the tops off hills and fill in the valleys. You rode the ridges, which are generally pretty twisty-turny.

Shades of Wolf Creek Pass

A line from Wolf Creek Pass, a C.W. McCall song about a couple of truckers with a load full of chickens who lost their brakes on the downhill side of the Continental Divide came to mind. “Well, from there on down, it just weren’t real purdy; it was hairpin county and switchback city. One of them looked like a can of worms; another one looked like malaria germs.”

I looked at the GPS and told Shari, “We’re fixin’ to come up on a curve that would let us touch our tail if this thing was just a little longer.” I forgot to mention that Hwy CC turned into CR 535, which is gravel. We hit on uphill stretch that was so steep that we lost traction and I thought we were going to have to back down to the bottom to get a fresh run at it. It WAS scenic, however.

Church at the top of the hill

Finally, we hit the top of a hill where there was clearing. On the top of that clearing was a white frame building that looked like a church or a school house. I tried to make out a name, but couldn’t. It was getting late in the afternoon, so we kept plugging on.

Proctor & Gamble aerial

Eventually, we turned off CR 535 onto CR 525 and I saw on the GPS that we were getting closer and closer to the Mississippi River. Finally it dawned on me that we were coming into Neely’s Landing from the north. CR525 became Hwy J and hooked around the Proctor & Gamble plant. I had photographed it from the air in the spring, but didn’t have a clue how big it was until we kept passing gate after gate. That took us onto 177 like I had predicted. Eventually we made it to Water Street and heard some good music.

Let’s go back to the school

A couple of days later, I said to Mother, “Hop in the car. I’m going to see if you’ve ever been on this road before.” Unlike with Shari, we started on the south end of the road. She knew where Proctor and Gamble was, thought she had been through Neely’s Landing, but didn’t think she’d ever been up in the ridges around Apple Creek Conservation area.

I wanted to take a second gander at this building. It appeared to be in good shape. The paint was peeling off it, but it looked like a bad paint job, not neglect. There’s a chain link fence around the property that’s so new it still has the bar code stickers on it.

Looking through the window

The windows looked like they had been replaced not long ago; the pews, which looked padded, appear to either be new or in extremely good shape. The floor looks solid and the walls have either been stripped of paint or they’ve been recently plastered or drywalled.

No name on the building

There’s a wooden plaque that looks like it might have contained a name at one time, but there’s no visible writing on it today.

Small cemetery behind church

There’s a small, well-kept cemetery behind the building.

The gravestones are relatively new

I didn’t spend much time poking around, but one of the oldest markers I saw was for a World War II PFC named Ralph Craft. He was born (it looked like) Sept. 6, 1925, and died Oct. 17, 1946.

This stone, which looks like it might have been chipped by a mower, only dates back to 1949.

Some markers are from the last decade

A large percentage of the makers are from the late 1990s up to as recently as 2010.

Restroom facilities out back

An outhouse serves as a restroom.

Child’s grave has surprise

I always have a strong emotional response when I see a child’s stone in the cemetery. This one was particularly touching because of the toys on the right side of the stone. I don’t know if they are still there because there’s little traffic in the cemetery or if any visitors who do come this way respect what they stand for.

While photographing this pair of stones – a brother and a sister who died of unrelated causes – I thought something looked odd, but couldn’t quite place what it was. Then it dawned on me: the statue of the dog is holding a lantern. And, the bulb in the lantern was glowing in the late evening light. (You might even be able to see it in the photo if you look closely.) That’s when I noticed it was a solar light.

Blumental graves gave clue

Reader Keith Robinson was in town visiting his dad and stopped by. I was describing my mystery when he suggested we pull up Google Maps to see if we could spot the building. Indeed, it was clearly visible, but unidentified. Up the road a piece, though, was a marker for High Hill School.

I did a search of Missourian archives for High Hill and came up with some obits for several people, including Michelle Blumenthal. They mentioned interment in High Hill Cemetery. A couple of them said the deceased had been members of High Hill Church of God.

Michelle’s brother, Christopher Michael Blumenthal, died at 12 of complications from heart surgery in 2003. Dammit, it’s OLD people who are supposed to die, not kids.

So, it looks like the cemetery is named High Hill and the church might be as well, although I don’t know if it’s still a Church of God congregation. I don’t know if High Hill School still exists, either. Looks like another excuse to take the scenic ridge route.



Bloomfield’s MO Veterans Cemetery

World War II veterans are dying at the rate of 1,000 to 1,500 a day; Vietnam vets are leaving us at about 600 a day. Many of them are being buried in veterans cemeteries, which are running out of room. To help take care of that need, new cemeteries are being created, including one in Bloomfield.

The Missouri Veterans Cemetery at Bloomfield conducted its first interment on Sept. 29, 2003. The cemetery’s website says that the cemetery has an approximate capacity of 27,000 gravesites. The cemetery is located on 65 acres of the historically significant and scenic Crowley’s Ridge in the Bootheel of Missouri. The cemetery shares a common entry with the Stars and Stripes military newspaper museum and library.

How to get to the cemetery

The cemetery is located on Highway 25 on the southern edge of Bloomfield.

  • From Highway 60 take Highway 25 north exit toward Bloomfield. Travel approximately 4 miles north and the cemetery will be located on the west side of Highway 25.
  • If arriving from the north on Highway 25, travel through Bloomfield and the cemetery will be located at the southern edge of Bloomfield on the west side of the road.

We’ll do a story on the Stars and Stripes Museum soon (maybe even tomorrow).

Less than five minutes away is the Stoddard County Confederate Memorial. It has grave markers for 121 Stoddard County Confederate soldiers, nine civilian “political prisoners” and 22 non-Stoddard Countians who died in the Civil War. What’s unique is that each stone has inscribed on its back the cause of death of the person.

Here’s a piece I did about a mysterious gravestone at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.