Greenwood Cemetery
4:24 pm
Fri May 24, 2013

Historic St. Louis Cemetery Looking For Volunteers

The caretakers of one of the oldest black cemeteries in St. Louis are hoping to get 300 people to converge on the property in North County tomorrow to help with the ongoing restoration efforts.

The Friends of Greenwood Cemetery Association does these clean-up days several times a year, and historian Etta Daniels says they've helped clear about half of the 32-acre cemetery in the last 13 years. This year, they'll tackle a 10-12 acre section that needs some TLC.

"With all the rain that we’ve had, the weeds are just about up to my waist now," Daniels said. "We’re really almost past being able to use just a regular little lawnmower because it’s all too high."

She says the association also needs help clearing debris from trees that were cut down in the past, and is asking volunteers who can to bring heavy equipment like weed whackers or chain saws.

Daniels says the volunteers are crucial at a cemetery like Greenwood, whose owners are not required by law to maintain private grave sites. While Dred Scott's wife Harriet is buried there, Daniels says Greenwood's historical nature is less about the famous individuals.

"I think the significance of Greenwood is that it has accumulated a lot of history," she said. "We tell St. Louis history in terms of a group of burials by identifying what was going on in St. Louis at that time, and then connecting that burial. It's a wonderful way of presenting regional history." She says once the clean-up is complete, the association wants to install markers outlining those stories.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann