Historic African American cemetery in Cape Girardeau Co. in ruins

Historic African American cemetery in Cape Girardeau falls into disarray

CAPE GIRARDEAU COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - A historic African American cemetery has been neglected for years, falling into complete disarray as the remains of what was Shady Grove Cemetery needs more attention.

“Because there is no one, basically, in charge of that cemetery. There is no public tax funds available to maintain it. And it’s essentially been abandoned.”

Frank Nickell is the director of the Kellerman Foundation. He said the cemetery has its cards stacked against it because it hasn’t been properly maintained in years.

“And the road that goes by has been closed,” he said. “That’s also controversial, because you can’t close a road in the state of Missouri very easily if it’s been maintained. Well, that hasn’t been maintained.”

Nor has the gravesites and footstones, which he said should’ve been left undisturbed.

“Missouri statutes indicate that you cannot move a tombstone, you cannot disturb a burial site, and there have been many disturbances there,” Nickell said.

With more than 150 cemeteries across Cape Girardeau County, Nickell said this is just one of the many abandoned ones that need more attention.

“And I wish it had been treated a little better,” he said. “I think know we take better care of our cemeteries, and the funds to maintain all of those cemeteries would just be enormous.

Nickell said if someone has a problem with the way a particular historic cemetery has been maintained, they should get a group together, decide on a course of action and present it to the county commissioners for change.

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