3-Trails Corridor

New Santa Fe Cemetery

New Santa Fe, called Little Santa Fe prior to 1851, boasted a trading post and stage station that served a small, but thriving community on Missouri’s westernmost border. All that remains today of the village that developed around the farm of John Bartleston, who erected a cabin in the forest along the Santa Fe Trail in 1833, is the community’s cemetery, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Death and dying on the trail from disease or accident was a real prospect for 19th century overlanders, and this cemetery was the westernmost graveyard in the United States before Kansas was settled.
Thanks to: David W. Jackson

New Santa Fe Cemetery

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History

When emigrants left their homes back east and funneled through Jackson County before “jumping off,” many knew they would never see their kin again. And, some would never reach their intended destinations. Issac Wistar recorded in his diary on May 6 and 7, 1849, how cholera was afflicting wagon caravans, “There is quite a populous graveyard at the crossing of the Big Blue, and numerous single graves along the trail." Many were simply laid-out in shallow graves, and after a hasty memorial, wagon trains proceeded. With its location along an ages-old border between Missouri and “Indian Territory,” New Santa Fe’s sacred space might be considered the westernmost graveyard in the United States…until settlement began in earnest in Kansas Territory. Most graves along the trails have been lost to time. Some crudely marked with temporary wooden crosses or field stones give real-life meaning to the teaching, “ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Today, they might be called “green burials.” The end result—we will never know who or where most deceased overland trail travelers were buried. Travelers who died in route were buried along, or near, the overland trails west. Some of the now unmarked graves in this cemetery may have been those of emigrants congregating at New Santa Fe before “jumping off.”
Thanks to: David W. Jackson