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Richmond Pioneer Cemetery

Richmond Township

Ray County Cemeteries - Web Page

#816 on Richmond Satellite Map

Richmond Pioneer Cemetery

(Old Pioneer City Cemetery)

(aka Morman Cemetery)

(aka Public Burial Ground)

Richmond Latitude: 39°17'6.00"N
Longitude: 93°58'34.00"W


Located on the corner of North Thornton Street and Crispin north of the Courthouse House Square

see Ray County History 1973, p.232.

The land where the cemetery is now located, was originally owned by O. A. McFarland and was later sold to John Thornton. In 1845 John C. Richardson, bought an acre of this land for a family burying place. On August 13, 1846, he deeded the land to Charles R. Morehead, James M. Lapsely and George A. Dunn, trustees in trust, for "the sole and exclusive use of the inhabitants of the town of Richmond as a public burial ground forever." The price was $80.00 for approximately one acre. Its location on high ground was prompted when disastrous spring floods washed away the grave of Mr. Richardson's wife's mother in the Missouri River lowlands in 1844.

In addition to Oliver Cowdrey, some of the early pioneers and other prominent citizens of Richmond and vicinity were buried here. The cemetery was soon filled and a new and larger city cemetery was established about 1875 on West Main Street. Some of the bodies from the old cemetery were transferred to the new cemetery.

On November 22, 1911, the Mormons dedicated a large granite monument, to the three witnesses to the Book of Mormon: David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdrey and Martin Harris. It was unveiled by a great-great granddaughter of David Whitmer. More than two hundred people from Salt Lake City, headquarters of the church were present.

The old cemetery fell victim to vandalism, erosion and brush. Seeing the neglect of the cemetery, the Mormons, in 1948 negotiated with the City of Richmond for the rights and privileges of taking over the care of it by leasing it for ninety-nine years for $1.00.

After the cemetery had been abandoned for about seventy years, the church landscaped the area in 1949-1950. Brush and rubbish were removed, the ground was leveled, new shrubbery, hardwood and evergreen trees were planted and the entire area sown with grass. The stones that were still standing were remounted, and the ones that had been stacked against the trees were sorted and placed in a concrete form to preserve them.

Now [2007] it is a beautiful well-kept cemetery. Each year busloads of pilgrims from Salt Lake City come to visit the cemetery.

The cemetery was first called the "Public Burial Ground." Some people incorrectly think Richmond City cemetery is the Old City Cemetery. The Old City Cemetery is another name for what is now called Pioneer Cemetery.

compiled by Elizabeth Prather Ellsberry, Juliette L. Smith and Mrs. Carlton Richardson

v. 4. Hill, Hudgeons, Mason, Murray-Anderson, Old City, Richmond, Watkins cemeteries

FHL 977.819 V3e v. 3-4

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photo submitted by Jennifer Zunker


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since November 11, 2006

Last Updated 5/27/2008