Bellefontaine Cemetery just launched a self-guided tour through its rolling hills. Now that it’s warmer, it’s the ideal place to learn about St. Louis’s history while still practicing social distancing. The white line runs around the cemetery’s roads, marking graves and interments. The white line that runs through the cemetery has taken a different route, which has revealed some interesting new people and some great specimens of trees. It also keeps some visitors’ favorites such as Adolphus Busch’s mausoleum.
Volunteer and event coordinator for Bellefontaine Cemetery Dan Fuller explained that the new route was created in response to feedback from visitors. Before beginning the tour, he encouraged people to get a map from the box near the West Florissant Avenue front gate. Walking and parking are allowed. However, the cemetery asks that you park off the road marked with the white line. Bicycles and dogs on leashes are allowed. Here are some highlights from the new white-line tour.
Susan Rassieur Buder
You may recognize Susan Rassieur Buder’s last name. There is a park named after her, as well as a school, library, community center, and school. Buder, a German immigrant, owned a jewelry business with Gustavus and raised five children on her own. While living at 2025 Park Avenue, she revolutionized the St. Louis jewelry industry and became extremely wealthy. She also focused on charitable work while still being a successful businesswoman. Her philanthropy was so well-known that she was called “The Little Mother on the South Side”.
Ida Woolfolk, a native of Ville and a long-standing member of Kennerly Temple Church of God in Christ was an icon in African-American education. She died in 2016. After graduating from Sumner High School, she crossed the street to Stowe Teachers College. It was located in the middle of the North Side’s African-American middle-class neighborhood. She was St. Louis’ “grand dame” in education, and leaders turned her to for guidance when they faced the challenges of running schools across the region.
Ann Clark Thruston Farrar
Ann Farrar is related to many famous people who have passed through St. Louis. She was the niece and sister of William Clark, the famous Lewis and Clark singer; and the wife and mother of Dr. Bernard G. Farrar who died in the 1849 cholera epidemic (all three men are also on this white line tour). She also owned a lot of lands. Hyde Park, North St. Louis, off Salisbury Street, was built on land she sold to the City in March 1854 through Ordinance 3150. Farrar’s monument, which includes eight columns of the Tuscan order and a pediment with her name on it, is unique in the cemetery.
Their last names may have been Robinson. History is still trying to find the truth. But one thing is certain: The story of brothers William & Francis was fascinating enough to be included by Cyprian Clamorgan in 1858 The Colored Aristocracy in St. Louis. This gossipy, but a valuable source of information about African-Americans living in the Gateway City before the Civil War. Barnum’s Hotel was their home for a while. It is located just one block away from the Old Cathedral and Adam Lemp’s Western Brewery. Harriett and Dred Scott also worked there at one time. According to the 1878 GlobeDemocrat obituary of “Professor”, William Roberson, he introduced Turkish Baths in the western United States. He died at 42 while running his barbershop at Lindell Hotel. At the height of his success, the newspaper valued the baths at $15,000 At his funeral, the pastor stated that he was “a man of native energy. He had stamina. He was also a businessman. And he didn’t owe any of his success to luck.”