The Missouri Department of Natural Resources recently dedicated Sappington African American Cemetery State Historic Site as the 92nd facility in the Missouri State Parks system.
“This is a very exciting day for Missouri State Parks as we dedicate the 92nd facility,” said Mike Sutherland, Missouri State Parks director. “Our mission of preserving and interpreting Missouri’s finest examples of cultural landmarks continues and wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many of you here today.”
Sappington African American Cemetery State Historic Site now joins other significant African American sites in Missouri, including Scott Joplin House State Historic Site in St. Louis; the Battle of Island Mound State Historic Site in Butler; the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center in Kansas City; and the George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond. Each tells its own unique story in Missouri history.
“Hidden Histories” is a Missouri State Parks program seeking to create personal connections with all audiences by identifying and telling forgotten or untold stories that highlight Missouri’s history in its entirety and represent our state’s cultural diversity.
“These stories shine a spotlight on episodes in Missouri’s past, both tragic and shameful, as well as inspirational and laudable,” said Carol Comer, director of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. “By knowing and sharing these stories, we’ll help to provide a broader context for understanding the events and people who shaped the state of Missouri as we know it today.”
The Sappington African American Cemetery State Historic Site is a two-acre plot in southwest Saline County about a quarter-mile west of Sappington Cemetery State Historic Site. The two cemeteries are separated by a field and a paved highway. Both are about five-miles from Arrow Rock.
Approximately 350 burials have been detected at the site; however, the identity of many are unknown. Burial records that have been gathered are now available at the Arrow Rock Visitor Center.
Attendees at the June 5 dedication ceremony included partner organizations and individuals who were instrumental in the development of Sappington African American Cemetery State Historic Site, and family descendants of those interred in the cemetery. Ceremony remarks were made by Missouri State Parks director Mike Sutherland, Rep. Tim Taylor, Missouri Department of Natural Resources director Carol Comer, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, Sappington Negro Cemetery Association president Teresa Habernal, Parker family descendent Wanda Saboor, Sen. Barbara Washington and minister Nancy Draffen Brown.
For more information on state parks and historic sites, visit mostateparks.com. Missouri State Parks is a division of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.