Shelly Park Cemetery

Shelly Park Cemetery

Kaw Township

Located between Missouri Avenue and Independence Avenue; Oak and Locust Streets, Kansas City, MO.

The Old Town company about the year 1837 gave to the town organization this tract of land, the purpose for which the land was to be used being that of a burying ground. It was a rough tract then and was considered, when compared with other lands, almost unsalable. The land was about a mile from the steamboat landing, over hills, hollows and ravines, and through forests of trees and great tracts of "underbrush". In the southeastern part of the tract was then a great ravine, but the whole piece is now level. The first person buried there was an unknown woman and the second person was William M. Chick, who d: April 7, 1847. As the years passed by and the town grew, the graveyard filled up rapidly, and hundreds of new graves were made during the prevalence of the cholera epidemic in the years 1848 and 1849, when Captain Suter's discovery of the little shining particles in his mill race in California caused emigrants by the thousands to land at Kansas City and taken the overland route for the land of gold.

In this graveyard the lots were free to all who wished to enter, and although there were several marble monuments and many tombstones the graves were not arranged in rows, and the palings surrounding the resting places of the dead were not systematically placed, but presented a singular ghostly, erratic appearance. The McDaniel, the Eldridge, the Jackson and the McDowell families had lots in this graveyard, and here rested the remains of Dr. Andrew Fulton, a physician of wide repute in early days, and near him John W. Bayne and Elijah Jackson were buried.

The city council in 1857 passed an ordinance declaring it illegal for any more interments to be made in this cemetery and consequently burials ceased. For many years the graveyard was unused for any purpose, the fences were torn down, many of the dead were removed to other cemeteries. Nearly all the graves were upon a high ridge running North and South, parallel with Oak Street, the summit of which was about 40 feet East of Oak Street, and few, if any, were as far east as the middle of the square, but many were in Oak Street, and Missouri Avenue. This ridge has been graded off to a depth of from 8 1/2 feet to the South to 17 feet at the North, an average of about 11 feet, necessitating, of course, the removal of all remains. The removal of earth from the square aforesaid was begun about 1868, and the entire surface was leveled off in 1878. The city did the grading; the place was planted in trees, enclosed by a fence and called Shelley Park, after Mayor Shelley.

The records of the city council:
"Resolution Dec. 30, 1872" City Engineer to make arrangements for disinterring and reinterring remains."
"Resolution May 12, 1872" Report of City Engineer Marvin on same. Contracts with Undertaken Welden to
remove remains to Union Cemetery referred to."

Compiled by Miss Jessie M. Crosby

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This page was last updated August 19, 2006.