Mount Mora Cemetery
History

Mount Mora Cemetery, established in 1851, is the oldest operating cemetery in Saint Joseph, Missouri. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is an interpretive site of The St. Joseph Museums, Inc. Mount Mora was once the most fashionable burial place for many of St. Joseph’s wealthy and powerful citizens. The boom years of the post Civil War period, known as St. Joseph’s “Golden Age,” gave rise to the building of some of the finest residential architecture in the Midwest, and to some of the finest tomb architecture as well.

"Mausoleum Row,” near the main gate to the cemetery, reads like a “Who’s Who” of St. Joseph’s economic and social elite, vying with one another to build magnificent homes and impressive burial tombs. Twenty-one mausoleums on Mausoleum Row and nine others scattered throughout the cemetery pay tribute to turn-of-the-century St. Joseph.

Local, state and national history ties to many buried here who pioneered during the time of the Great Westward Movement and developed the importance of St. Joseph in ensuing years. Three Missouri governors are buried at Mount Mora, along with M. Jeff Thompson, “The Swamp Fox” of the Confederacy. Two Pony Express riders and two of Quantrill’s Raiders lie on shady hillsides. One of Joseph Robidoux’s son is here, as is Sir William Saltonstall Wiseman, an Englishman whose passing is cloaked in mystery. An impressive monument is dedicated to a lone St. Joseph resident who was lost at sea during the sinking of the Lusitania. Simeon Kemper’s family commands a large hilltop plot on the original 20 acres of Mt. Mora carved from the northwest corner of his farm.

Walk among the many varieties of aging trees surrounding hundreds of beautifully carved marble, granite and alloy markers. Stand before the gravestone of the man who designed the vast majority of St. Joseph’s most impressive, beautiful mansions and city buildings. Find the two attending physicians at the autopsy of Jesse James. See the tombstone with the lengthy biographical description of the first licensed embalmer/first licensed funeral director in the United States. See the graves of Coleman Hawkins’ parents and little sister. Learn the “rest of the story” regarding Maud Vanderlinde, her mystery now solved. She is entombed in the oldest, least imposing mausoleum made of common brick. Once believed to have died in childbirth as she and her husband passed through St. Joseph on their way West, you’ll learn the equally poignant truth surrounding her demise.

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