JEFFERSON CITY — A historic cemetery originally deeded to freed black slaves in Clinton would be preserved as a cultural site by House Bill 1556, sponsored by Rep. Rodger Reedy, R-Windsor.
Antioch Cemetery, founded in 1888 in Henry County, southwest of Sedalia, is still an active cemetery for descendants of the site’s original families. The cemetery has grown to almost five acres and is currently cared for by the Antioch Cemetery Board, which includes residents of Clinton.
Reedy said that while the board of trustees has done a good job maintaining the property, there is concern about finding a long-term solution. His bill would preserve Antioch Cemetery under the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ state parks division.
“It’s really important because people go to these cemeteries to look at their ancestry,” said Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, at a House hearing for the bill on Monday evening. “This is a big deal.”
Rich Germinder, the director of policy and legislative affairs at the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, said what makes the site unique is that he doesn’t know whether the department currently oversees active cemeteries. That means there is little precedent to dictate whether or not ancestors would still be allowed to be buried there.
Reedy said the projected cost of up to about $190,000 for acquiring the cemetery is likely higher than necessary. The estimate accounts for things like the construction of a parking lot, for which there is currently no room , and a fence, which the site already has.
Additionally, the estimated cost of upkeep is lower than projected because it would be done by workers in Clinton.
It is possible the site would be acquired through a gift, meaning the main costs would involve upkeep. Supervising editor is Mark Horvit, email@example.com.