Walking through the Woodland-Old City Cemetery, tombstones that formerly stood tall or gleamed in the sunlight are now crumbling. And much like the etchings on those crumbling tombstones, the names of those buried there — and their place in history — are in danger of being forgotten.
Sarah Walker, wife of former Missouri state Treasurer John G. Walker and niece of President Andrew Jackson, would have been one of those individuals if her tablet stone had not been restored recently. The Jefferson City Cemetery Resources Board oversaw the restoration of her stone while the Thomas Lawson Price Society, a group within the Historic City of Jefferson, paid for the repairs.
But there are more tablet stones and more names at risk of being lost and forgotten in the Woodland-Old City Cemetery.
The Cemetery Resources Board wants to ensure city residents don't forget their history or individuals buried at the Woodland-Old City Cemetery.
The board is considering placing a large information sign, similar to ones in the local parks, that would provide information about both cemeteries. It also wants to place QR codes at different graves around the cemeteries that people can scan using their smartphones to look up maps of the Old City Cemetery and Woodland Cemetery, along with information about historical figures buried there.
"This would give us a way to make this a walking tour and people can go through and have self-guided tours," Thompson said, adding it's important to remember those buried there as they were the earliest settlers to the area and helped establish Jefferson City and Missouri's government.
Thompson plans to request a grant from the Missouri Humanities Council for up to $2,500 and suggested the board pay the remainder of the cost.
While several estimated numbers were thrown out, Thompson said she did not know the estimated cost for the new signs or the cost to install them. She noted she was currently working on getting bids for the potential project.
Until the board has an estimated price, members agreed to table action on it until the July meeting.
The board has been active in raising awareness and repairing tablet stones in the Woodland-Old City Cemetery over the last year. They hope to raise money to repair 26 tablet stones, similar to Sarah Walker's.
The Historic City of Jefferson and Cemetery Resources Board also held a Woodland-Old City Cemetery walking tour in April. The tour attracted around 150 people, about half as many as Thompson would have liked. While there was less people, she noted, the board received more than $800 in donations for future restoration projects, compared to $300-$350 during last year's walking tour.
The board also submitted an application nominating the Woodland-Old City Cemetery to the National Register and hope to hear back from the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office regarding the status of the application in August. The Woodland-Old City Cemetery and the adjacent Jefferson City National Cemetery were declared local landmarks in 1994.
Old City Cemetery was established in 1826 and Woodland Cemetery in 1838.