Greenwood Cemetery was founded in 1874, to serve the growing African American community of Saint Louis and Saint Louis County (and reflected the post-civil war trend toward segregation in all aspects of life and death) by a white groundskeeper of a neighboring white cemetery.
Greenwood sits on the ancestral and traditional land of the Chickasaw Nation, Illini Tribe, Ioway Tribe, Kickapoo Tribe, Osage Nation, Otoe-Missouria Tribe, and Quapaw Nation. It is close to 32 acres large and has around 50,000 graves.
Early records of Greenwood describe how families would frequently come to visit and take care of their loved one's graves. During Memorial Day, the owner would have a big ceremony for families, where concessions would be sold along with a military presentation to salute the many soldiers buried there. It was owned and operated by the groundskeeper (and later his family) until the late 70s.
The GCPA members rely on their own, personal funds, time, equipment, as well as volunteers to manage and slowly clear the overgrown cemetery grounds. Despite the many hardships and setbacks, the group works continuously and has successfully cleared more than 15 acres over the last few years and has also researched and compiled information on over 50% of its burial records.
For more information on Greenwood Cemetery and the GCPA visit https://www.greenwoodstl.org/
In 1999, descendants of the interred along with a group of academic professionals formed the Friends of Greenwood, Inc. Their goal was to restore and preserve the site as a historical park and educational resource to celebrate St. Louis’ African American heritage. In 2002, the organization took full ownership and fought hard to get Greenwood added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
Due to aging members,this group eventually dissolved and the Greenwood Cemetery Preservation Association, Inc. was formed in 2016. GCPA is a 501c(3), non-profit organization and is committed to restoring Greenwood Cemetery. That same year, Greenwood Cemetery was added to the list of St. Louis County Historic Landmarks. On February 25, 2018, County Executive Steve Stenger proclaimed Greenwood Cemetery Day.
To learn more about, connect and volunteer with the GCPA visit the group on Facebook.