Tuesday Trivia

Thought you might like to read an article I wrote back in 1991 for Heritage Quest Magazine:

A short while back I visited my sis-in-law in Kansas City and we visited the old Union Cemetery. This toppled-stone-not-well-cared-for place has quite a history.

In the first half of the 1800s, Westport (8 miles from Kansas City, Missouri) was “quite the metropolis. It was the final “civilized” stop for those setting out on the Santa Fe Trail or the Oregon Trail.” As the town grew, churches sprang up and with them, cemeteries. Soon it was apparent that the church cemeteries would not suffice for burying grounds.

Meanwhile, north of Westport a settlement was growing where river boats unloaded goods found for Westport. This little town grew and by 1840 the Town of Kansas (later to become Kansas City) had a population of several hundred.

An event occurred in 1849 that changed both towns forever. That spring, some 300 settlers arrived on a steamboat from New Orleans. That steamboat also carried cholera; soon over 200 of the settlers had perished.

Union Cemetery was the answer.  In 1857 it was so named from an amiable agreement between Westport and the Town of Kansas, not for anything connected to the Civil War.  There are fifteen Confederate soldiers buried there in a mass grave who died as prisoners of war after the Battle of Westport in 1864.

One especially tender moment came when I spotted the grave marker for 8-year-old  Little Miss Mata Erath who died in 1885. (I had a photo but dang! It won’t upload for me today. Bad computer!)

(Reference: Recent book compiled and published by the Union Cemetery Historical Association.)