Backstory and Context
Ashland Cemetery was originally 2 separate cemeteries; Oakland and Ashland. Oakland Cemetery was established in 1848 by the congregation of German Evangelical Zion church. Ashland Cemetery was established in 1869. At that time, both cemeteries were several miles outside of town, and what is now known as Ashland Avenue was known as Rochester Road. In 1913, due to their close proximity, the two cemeteries were merged.
The burials within Ashland Cemetery are wildly diverse, which makes for a fascinating visit. Within what was originally Oakland Cemetery stand 2 stones that mark the graves of early members of St. Joseph’s once thriving Chinese population. The stones do not seem to have ever been translated. Throughout the Oakland section of the cemetery, many stones bear German inscriptions. Two Pony Express riders, Mich L. Whalen and John Philip Koerner, are buried within the cemetery, along with over 200 Civil War Union veterans. Another notable burial is that of Frank Grouard, an Army chief of scouts during the Indian Wars who was captured by the Sioux and knew Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.
“Ashland Cemetery bought by VanVickle brothers,” St. Joseph Gazette (St. Joseph, MO) Oct 10, 1980.
“Monuments at St. Joseph Cemeteries Take Unusual Forms-- Inscriptions in Chinese,” St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, MO) Jul 7, 1946.
“Union Soldiers Buried at Ashland,” St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, MO) Sep. 25, 1992.
“Postcards from the Past,” St. Joseph News-Press (St. Joseph, MO) May 22, 2000.