COLD WATER CEMETERY
Hidden away, back a long lane off of Old Halls Ferry Road in Florissant is the beautifully restored Cold Water Cemetery. You will find it located atop a hill, surrounded by deep woods, shaded by ancient oaks and walnuts, and also surrounded by deep depressions in the land, locally called "The Sinks".
The name "Cold Water" comes from the little spring fed creek that meanders through the neighborhood. It was called Cold Water by both the French and Spanish explorers. On a French map of 1767, it is identified as "Riviere de L’eau Froide". In an account of Spanish Louisiana, published in 1785, it is called "Aqua Frias". Both names translate into English as "Cold Water". The creek gave its name to the community, to the churches, both Baptist and Methodist, to the school and to the burial ground. This small cemetery is on land given for this purpose by John Patterson, Sr., a Revolutionary War Soldier. Legend is that an eight-cornered Methodist church in the shape of a cross was established about 1808 and the cemetery, which was to become Cold Water was established on the circumference of the church grounds. The church disappeared but the cemetery endured.
John Patterson, Sr. gathered his family together and, with many of his friends and relatives, journeyed from the Carolinas, eventually arriving in the Cold Water Creek area around 1797. They began to acquire land, much of which was from Spanish land grants, as the area was under Spanish Rule at the time. Mr. Patterson’s land grant for 600 acres was given on November 16, 1802 with his son, William, receiving a land grant for 600 acres around the same time. One could walk from the Missouri River on the north, Cold Water Creek to the south, Halls Ferry Road to the west, and Bellefontaine Road to the east, and still be on the land belonging to the Pattersons. This area was called "The Patterson Settlement." The Spanish were Catholics and this new breed of settlers being Protestant, was difficult for the Spanish to understand. The Pattersons retained their Protestant faith through the services of a Methodist Minister known as "Father Clark".
The Reverend John Clark was an interesting person.Some of the earliest recorded recollections of him came from John and Pemelia Allen, who were members of a Methodist class which was organized by Clark after a camp meeting in May 1805. Though his background was checkered and adventurous, Clark was by every measure a gentleman, one with genteel manners and speech, neat in appearance and dress. Perhaps it was this bearing which made him a welcome guest across the continent and particularly at Cold Water settlement.
Like many of our forebears, John Clark was of Scottish extraction, being born in 1758 in the county of Inverness. He grew up near the sea, which for a decade played a large part in his life. Although one tradition says that Clark's father was a drunkard who neglected his farm near Petty Parish and estranged his family, it is probable that the Clarks had a moderate prosperity for that time.
The American Revolution was only two years old when Clark, who was twenty, became a crewman on a British transport. This ship was ferrying supplies to the Royal Army in America. Perhaps we should not judge too hastily that Clark had a turncoat loyalty. Nor is it surprising that he served on privateers, which is a polite word for "pirate" ships. But it was in this latter capacity that Clark was taken prisoner of war by the Spanish navy and sent to Havana, Cuba where he spent nineteen months.
When he was released, he was again impressed into naval service aboard the British man-of-war Narcissus. He deserted the ship and the British cause by jumping overboard in Charleston Harbor. The fugitive made his way to the back country where he found safety with the army of General Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox". Later he went to sea on American coastwise shipping vessels. In the meantime though, the War of Independence ended and the new nation began its shaky and uncertain life.
In the next several years, a crisis occurred in the life of John Clark. He had signed on as a crewman on a boat bound for England via the West Indies. However the ship was wrecked off Cape Hatteras. Except for a later voyage to the British Isles, this was the last recorded time he was aboard ship.
As if to get away from the sea, he went inland to the back settlement of Fishing River, GA (or Fishing Creek, as it was sometimes called), where he became a school teacher. At Broad River, GA, the anxious Clark came in contact with the Methodists and under the fervor of their evangelistic preaching he progressed from conviction to the work of leading a Methodist class and preaching. Two years later in 1788 he returned to the British Isles for a visit with his family. Stopping in London on the return trip, he visited the famed Foundry Meeting House, a pioneer Methodist Church. There he attended a class meeting and heard the venerable John Wesley preach, an experience that was to remain with him all of his life.
Returning to Georgia, Clark was duly licensed to preach, and in 1789 at the age of thirty-one was admitted on trial in the Georgia Annual Conference. Six years later, he was ordained an elder after serving the preceding years on Georgia circuits. Probably because of his aversion to slavery and of his dislike of the Methodist appointive system, he abruptly withdrew from the traveling ministry in 1796. He set out for Illinois, traveling on foot, spending a term teaching in Kentucky, then coming to the New Design Community in Monroe County, IL in 1797. He resumed his contacts with Methodist people and was soon preaching again in the informal services of that day.
According to an often-told story, Clark began preaching to a group of American settlers in the Louisiana Territory who had gathered at Bates' Rock near the mouth of Joachim Creek. It is said that Zenon Trudeau, the Spanish Commandant in St. Louis, had a friendship for Clark but publicly warned him of the stern penalties for disobedience to the law. The story goes that Trudeau never sent officers to arrest Clark until he was certain that the Methodist preacher was safely back in Illinois. He would give him three days to get out of Spanish Territory which would allow him enough time to finish preaching and return to Illinois. In any event, Clark was probably the first Protestant minister to preach on this side of the river and, at the turn of the century, was making regular visits to the settlements along Cold Water Creek. In fact, the first marriage in this community was that of Elisha Patterson, the son of John Patterson, Sr. and Lucy Hubbard on January 9, 1806, with the Reverend Clark, hearing the vows.
A class was formed in May 1805 in the Spanish Pond area of Cold Water Creek. John Piggett was the class leader. Members were Francis Collard, in whose house the meetings were held, Newton Pigett, John and Agnes Bacy, James Quick and his wife Sena Piggett. At about the same time another class was formed in the home of Elisha and Lucy Hubbard Patterson, whose wedding ceremony Clark performed. The class roll included those Pattersons, William and Asenith Patterson, John and Jane Sanders, Polly Patterson, John and Penelope Brown, Amy James and Sallie Jamieson. Other members included Gilbert Hodge, Allen Mannon and their wives. The group later met in the home of William Patterson. The Bellefontaine United Methodist Church traces its origins to the Spanish Pond class. Shortly thereafter the Cold Water work became a part of the so-called "Illinois Circuit", renamed a year later the "Missouri Circuit", and by 1809, the "Cold Water Circuit".
About 1810, Clark became closely associated with a Baptist group called the "Friends of Humanity". He was probably attracted to them because of their abolitionist stance and because he favored Baptist polity over the Methodist appointive system. In 1811, Clark affiliated with the Baptists and continued in that denominational ministry until his death twenty-two years later. This time was spent in St. Louis county where he had found friendship and acceptance a generation before.
Clark’s last days were enfeebled. After all, seventy-five was a ripe old age in those days. Towards the end of his life he preached in the home of a Mr. Quick, perhaps one of the original Spanish Pond class, sitting in a chair while he preached, his body being so weak. Near that time he worshipped once again with Methodist folk in the Cold Water church where John Glanville was pastor. On November 15, 1833, he died in the home of Elisha and Lucy Hubbard Patterson, whom he had married more than twenty-seven years earlier. The Rev. John Glanville, whose Methodist ministry here was laid upon the foundation Clark had laid a generation before, conducted his funeral. His grave is probably unusual in that both the Baptists and the Methodists have marked it.
Cold Water Cemetery is probably the oldest existing burial ground of the American settlers who came west of the Mississippi River, when those lands were still under the rule of Spain. It was first, the Patterson family burial ground, then the Patterson-Piggott, then the Patterson-Hume burial ground, and as it then served the neighborhood, it finally became Cold Water Cemetery. This historic cemetery is considered to be the oldest Protestant cemetery, still in use, west of the Mississippi River.
Two known Revolutionary War Soldiers are buried there, John Patterson, Sr. in 1839, and Eusebius Hubbard in 1818. Also therein buried are Reverend John Clark, Elisha and Lucy Patterson, and soldiers who fought in the War of 1812, the Seminole War, the War Between the States, the Mexican War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Around 1929, a small group of interested Descendants and friends of those buried in the cemetery banded together and formed the "Cold Water Cemetery Association." Their aim was to maintain and preserve the old cemetery, and they devoted a great deal of time and money to this endeavor. As the years went by, the grass and weeds grew, the headstones fell, and the fences collapsed. In the late 1950's, members of the Cold Water Cemetery Association and their friends decided to save the now historic cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. Ed Hume, Mr. and Mrs. O. Block Patterson, Mr. and Mrs. John Patterson, Mr. Henry G. Poikert and his first wife Lola, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Weiderman, and others mowed grass, pulled weeds, and patched broken head stones. However, this work proved to be overwhelming. Lola Poikert, a member of the O'Fallon Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, decided to approach the Missouri State Society DAR to see if it would consider taking over Cold Water Cemetery. In 1963, she talked with then State Regent, Mrs. Walter Diggs, and Mrs. Claude Rowland, Honorary State Regent about this gift. It was brought before the 1963 State Conference. The members had an inspection tour of the cemetery and voted to accept this gift. Memorial Day, May 30, 1963 was the date set for the dedication. Unfortunately, Lola Poikert, died just before the dedication. She was buried in Cold Water Cemetery. However she had achieved her goal. The MSSDAR and the Cold Water Cemetery Association jointly dedicated the cemetery with Mrs. Walter Diggs and Mr. Henry Chomeau each placing a wreath. It was not until November 3, 1963, when the cemetery officially became the property of the Missouri State Society Daughters of the American Revolution. On accepting this unusual gift, the MSSDAR assumed the responsibilities of its future maintenance and of bringing to it the recognition it deserves in the history of America's Westward Expansion. The State Society and its chapters also are carrying out the historic preservation objective of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution.
Since the Missouri Daughters have taken ownership, a traditional Memorial Day ceremony has been established which includes the VFW Color Guard, the American Legion, Cub Scouts, a 21 gun salute, a guest speaker, and special memorial services for the deceased DAR members and for the many veterans buried there. Alexander McNair Society C.A.R. members participate by placing roses on the graves.
The cemetery is supported by donations to the General, Perpetual Care, and Capital Improvement Funds. Since acquiring the cemetery in 1963, the MSSDAR has remained active in its preservation, restoration, and beautification. Ten foot sections of wrought iron fence, which have been donated as Honorariums and Memorials, completely enclose the cemetery.A Memorial Garden has been created, a gravel road and turn around added, ground water surface control initiated, and grave markers and stones restored and added. There is still much to do since restoration, preservation, and beautification are never ending.
Cold Water Cemetery is important because men and women who pioneered the Westward Expansion of our country lie sleeping there.It is important in the history of the early Protestant Churches in Missouri. Cold Water Cemetery is without question, a landmark of the western movement in our country and an integral part of our heritage.