Research shows cemeteries were actually considered our country's very first parks.
This Heartland Weekend we’re digging into this history behind some of the area’s mysteries.
Our first stop is at Old Lorimier Cemetery.
“It’s actually a really peaceful place for people to come and visit,” Jennifer Hardaway said.
Yes, she’s referring to the cemetery.
It’s not the creep factor that attracts the historic preservation student to spaces like these.
“I came to this cemetery on the very first day that I came and did a campus visit at SEMO and I fell in love in love with this cemetery because of the view,” Hardaway said. “I fell in love with the older stones.”
For Hardaway, this is a cultural resource.
Established in 1808, these burial grounds are some of the oldest in the region, representing a part of the original Spanish land grant.
It’s believed to be the final resting place for more than 6,500 people.
The founding fathers of Cape Girardeau, prominent businessmen, Civil War soldiers, and more are all buried here.
But if you take a closer look, you’ll notice most of the headstones are pointing toward the Mississippi River.
“Your more well-to-known people in Cape Girardeau were buried down here so they could have that view for eternity,” Hardaway said.
Research shows cemeteries were actually considered our country’s very first parks.
In fact, New York’s Central Park is modeled after Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Ma.
“They loved that granger style of the big trees, the open spaces, the way that people could mingle through and have a picnic in the park while reminiscing on their own mortality by visiting people that had been burried in the cemetery,” Hardaway said.
Old Lorimier even has a few of those unique features.
“This cemetery has a lot of those garden-style features with the headstones all being ornate and being in different delegations where they are not laid down in the ground just flat,” Hardaway showed us.
The stones are pieces of our past that tell stories of Cape Girardeau’s rich history.
“It’s so important especially as we get older that’s the main thing we want to know is our heritage and you know to be able to pass that on to future generations,” Hardaway said.
CLICK HERE to learn more about Old Lorimier Cemetery.
Could Old Lorimier Cemetery be haunted? Some say yes!
Follow THIS LINK to learn more about the ghosts, legends, and lore.