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Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014

Local graveyards are rich in history

Sunday, October 28, 2007

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Tombstones of the Hunter family lie in a cemetery located in the middle of a field of Grant farms.
SIKESTON -- After asking readers to alert us of small, interesting cemeteries in the area, we received information -- some duplicated -- on a dozen or so graveyards in the region.

Of course, there are many, many more, but we could only choose a few to highlight for readers.

Sikeston City Cemetery is located off South Kingshighway in Sikeston. At one time, the body of the founder of Sikeston John Sikes (1816-1867) was displayed in a glass coffin in a mausoleum in the cemetery in which he is buried. In the 1960s, the coffin was vandalized, and the body disintegrated. His remains were then interred on the cemetery grounds.

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Many infants are buried in the Bright Prospect Cemetery.
Located in an area called "Linda," Riddle Cemetery is east of Portageville near the Bunge Corp. by the Mississippi River. Of New Madrid County's 109 known cemeteries, the Riddle Cemetery contains the oldest stone found in the county. It marks the grave of John Riddle who died at age 70 in 1829.

Hickory Grove Cemetery is located on Highway C between Morley and Blodgett in Scott County. Originally, a French cemetery, the five-acre farm was part of the Louisiana Purchase, according to Jean Smith Wells, whose family owns the cemetery. The family lost the farm during the Depression but the cemetery was deeded back to the original family and two friends. In addition to family members, Civil War and World War II veterans are among those buried there. For many, many years if anyone needed a place to bury someone, this cemetery took them in --the only rule was: Ask and do not bury in the family area. The same rule applies today.

A cemetery is located in the middle of the Grant farm, located south of Sikeston on the first county road before Scott County Central Schools. Visitors should turn right, go around a curve and past the Hunter's house then continue until the road turns to gravel; turn on the next road to the right and the cemetery can be seen to the left in the middle of the field. The head stones are very old.

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A tombstone is partially buried at Hickory Grove Cemetery.

Big Opening Cemetery was a cemetery located in the Big Opening Community, about one-fourth a mile northwest of the Little Vine General Baptist Church in New Madrid County off AA Highway. The community, at one time, had about 700 residents. Also known as Old York Cemetery and Little Vine Cemetery, the cemetery is very difficult to find because it's located off a dirt road and half a mile or so behind a house. It's a large area filled with waist-high weeds.

Among the trees and tall grass in the southeast section of Wyatt sits a small cemetery of about 12 people. The broken stones that once marked grave sites are piled around while others are scattered everywhere... buried amongst the rubble is a heroic soldier who fought in the Revolutionary War.

Many years after people stopped using it for burials, the Sugar Tree Ridge Cemetery located in New Madrid County, was used for something else -- a pasture. Someone fenced in their livestock around the cemetery and many stones were turned over and broken.

Many members of the Higgerson family are buried there and about 30 years ago, some men in the family cut trees off of the cemetery and sold them for fence posts and firewood. With the money received, they purchased weed killer and a lawn mower. For many years now, they have kept it clean and attractive. Now, at the family reunion, a fish fry is held and a "For cemetery only" donations are accepted to keep the cemetery maintained.