Walnut Park


Cemeteries

Adjoining the Walnut Park area on the north are the City's two largest cemeteries, Bellefontaine and Calvary. They were established to provide outlying burial grounds to replace older ones near Jefferson Avenue, which lay in the path of the expanding city. Oldest of the two is Bellefontaine, which was founded in 1849 on 138 acres of the old Hempstead farm. Soon after its founding, an epidemic of cholera struck St. Louis to such an extent that fatalities numbered about ten percent of the population. An average of about thirty persons a day were interred at the new cemetery. After the epidemic, James E. Yeatman of the cemetery board, chose a young Brooklyn landscape architect to design the grounds. Almerin Hotchkiss remained as cemetery superintendent until his death 46 years later, when he was succeeded by his son for another twenty years. Bellefontaine's fine collection of trees is said to be due to the vigilance of the senior Hotchkiss, as are the winding roads and park-like beauty of the grounds. The roster of names of prominent St. Louisans buried there reads like a Who's Who list of the St. Louis citizenry. In later years, Bellefontaine was enlarged to reach its present area of more than 300 acres.

To the west, is Calvary Cemetery, the City's largest, which covers over 400 acres. It was established in 1858, under the direction of Archbishop Peter R. Kenrick. In the early 1850's, the cemetery's western portion was the Old Orchard Farm of James B. Clay, son of the famed Kentucky statesman. The old mansion on the site was later the archbishop's summer home. It was not razed until about 1950. Among notables buried in Calvary Cemetery are Auguste Chouteau, co-founder of St. Louis; General William Tecumseh Sherman, of Civil War fame; and members of the Lucas, Mullanphy and DeMenil families. A more recent grave there is that of Doctor Thomas A. Dooley, the founder of Medico, who was interred in 1961. Calvary is one of ten Archdiocesan Catholic cemeteries in the vicinity of St. Louis.