Whenever a deceased person who didn’t have a family to take care of them, burial was furnished by the county and the body was buried in the Pauper Cemetery. The Pauper Cemetery at Gallatin, MO, or Potter’s Field, is located approximately 1/4 mile south from the town of Gallatin.

It might be hard to determine the exact location of this cemetery. Three cemeteries lie in close proximity. Courthouse records and conversations with current landowners reveal these three cemeteries to be Elmwood Cemetery (for African Americans); Herndon Family Cemetery (for slaves); and Pauper Cemetery or Potter’s Field.

In the Elwood Cemetery, one will find a concrete foundation approximately 20 feet square, which could have been the foundation of the negro church that stood in this area.

These cemeteries, now grown up in weeds and brush with broken and missing stones, have a history that could or should be revealed. Slave cemeteries aren’t easily found today.

Potter’s Field holds the bodies of convicted murderers Joe Jump and John Smith. The hanging of Joe Jump, age 19, and John Smith, age 22, for the murder of Wm. Gladson on Dec. 29, 1885, was Daviess County’s first and only public execution.

— researched and presented by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin, MO


Elmwood Cemetery

For many years African Americans who died at Gallatin, MO, were buried in an isolated cemetery about a mile south of the town square. There were actually three cemeteries in close proximity there.

The first cemetery, on the north, was considered “Potter’s Field” for the destitute and abandoned.┬áIt is noteworthy that Joe Jump, who was hanged in Gallatin along with his partner in crime, John Smith, in one of the last public hangings in Missouri, is allegedly buried in the Potter’s Field cemetery area.

The second cemetery further south was Elmwood Cemetery, reserved mostly for African Americans. A third cemetery, more to the west, was the “Herndon Family” burial plot.

All three burial grounds have been virtually inaccessible in recent years and the cemeteries have been badly neglected. The last burial in any of the cemeteries there occurred in the 1960s.

Ironically, the main road into the cemetery area was at one time an extension of Main Street, Gallatin, which entered it from the north. There are occasional movements to clean up these burial areas to open the cemeteries to visitors.

— researched and presented by Wilbur Bush, Gallatin, MO