William Woods University
Greenwood Cemetery Funerary Art
The Greenwood Cemetery was the first non-denominational commercial cemetery for African-Americans in the St. Louis area. Established in 1874 by Herman Krueger, Greenwood has approximately 6,000 marked graves but is thought to contain up to 50,000 burials. In 1890 the cemetery was sold to Krueger’s son-in-law, Adolph Foelsch; the Foelsch family owned and operated the cemetery, including manufacturing concrete tombstones, until 1981. Those buried at Greenwood include former slaves, war veterans, members of fraternal organizations, artists, laborers and middle class African-Americans, as well as a number of famous and prominent African-Americans from St. Louis, including Dred Scott’s wife Harriet Robinson Scott, folk hero Lee Shelton (“Stagger” Lee), musician Walter Davis and civil rights leader Charlton Tandy. Many of the people buried at Greenwood were originally from southern states and had participated in the Great Migration north. Funerals were numerous in Greenwood in the mid-twentieth century, but with desegregation, the cemetery saw a decline in use. In the 1980s it began to go derelict. It permanently closed in the 1990s and continued to stand abandoned for most of a decade. In 1999, the nonprofit group Friends of Greenwood Cemetery, Inc. was formed for the purpose of restoring and preserving the site as a historic park. Eventually the group gained ownership of the cemetery. Greenwood was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
This collection presents photographs of grave markers in Greenwood Cemetery including professionally carved Victorian stones and other funerary art, as well as examples of artifacts excavated from the cemetery. Names are identifiable on many of the markers. Most photographs were taken in 2005.
Rights and Reproductions
Copyright to this resource is held by William Woods University. It is provided here for educational purposes only, and images may not be downloaded or otherwise reproduced without written permission of William Woods University.
- Greenwood Cemetery Records at University of Missouri – St. Louis
- Application for placement on the National Register of Historic Places
- Friends of Greenwood Website