What a quaint town St. James, Missouri is! Too bad we weren’t there when things were open! 8:30 AM was even a little early for me, but we had to do it! We were on our way to Saint Louie and our ascent up into the Arch! Our first stop was the St. James City Cemetery, also known as the Masonic Cemetery. This beautiful gate catches your attention as you come down the highway towards Meramec Spring Park, but it is an exit only. One can see why, when you see the width of it, and the angle a small car must approach it in order to enter. We entered at the next gate, the larger, much wider one! The James plot stands out for several reasons. Number one it is toward the front of the cemetery and just about the first thing you see, and number two, the surround is a work of masonry art. The wrought iron work in the right rear corner has a cross at the top, and would look right with a bell hanging under it. In the rear near Octavia James’ plot the brick eddifice seems to be a shrine with an urn of some type in it. The three people buried in this site are Octavia, Jane Edwina and Edwin James.In the back of the site, next to the shrine, Octavia Bowles James’ grave can be found. Octavia was married to the grandson of the founder of Meramec Iron Works Foundry, Thomas James. Octavia was the mother of Lucy Wortham James, a philanthropist and benefactor to many.
Octavia had contracted tuberulosis and died in El Paso where she had relocated for her health. Lucy was at her mother’s bedside when she died in 1894. Upon her mother’s death, she went to live with her wealthy uncle, Richard G. Dunn, in New York. Under her uncle’s care she was offered many opportunities she would have never had the chance to experience in St. James. Upon his death, she acquired “a sizeable inheritance including a share of the Dunn fortune. She eventually became owner of the R.G. Dunn and Company which later became Dunn and Bradstreet, Inc.”
The site is well cared for, and one can only assume that a substantial endowment fund takes care of it. I walked through seemingly fresh sand with nary a leaf in it.S.H. Headlee’s will stipulated that he was to be buried in the Masonic Cemetery in St. James. His monument is unique in the fact that it has a polished marble slab affixed to it that states:
THE SOD LIES LIGHTLY
ON NO NOBLER MAN.
Although close to 150 years old, this stone is still readable and erect. Garretson P. Hardy died 19 May 1860 at the age of 57 years and has a beautifully hand carved memorial. It is shaded and in a serene spot.
As we headed back to the I-70 we made a stop at the Veteran’s Home Cemetery. It is neatly manicured, as well, a resembles many Veterans’ Cemeteries, with one exception.
You must read the headstones to see which is the wife, and which is the Veteran! Wife’s are buried next to, with or behind their spouses. Some of the stones are military type, some are regular headstones purchased from any monument company. I did find one Pennsylvania soldier and would have regretted it, had I not stopped and honored him. It was pouring rain by this time and I was juggling an umbrella and a camera, but couldn’t stop until I felt I had to.
I had reached that point! My feet were soaked and I risked getting my essential camera ruined.
I ran for the car and eagerly anticipated the next dry cemetery off of the I-70!
Christensen, Lawrence O, Dictionary of Missouri Biography, (University of Missouri Press, 1999), p. 431.
Mrs. Lucy Wortham James, Great-granddaughter of the founder of Maramec Iron Works, http://www.missouritrout.com/mrslwjames.html (August 2009).