Conway Cemetery


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We stumbled upon another rural cemetery in West County recently, off of Conway Road.  The Conway Cemetery is named after one of the earliest settlers in the St. Louis County area, and the cemetery is on his property.  Joseph Conway was famous for having been scalped and surviving the assault; his grand-children supposedly used to ask to feel his head on occasion.

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This interesting tombstone above marks the graves of the slaves of the Conway family.  Unlike the Campbell Slave Cemetery in Wildwood, these graves are marked officially.  But it is strange; the stone looks quite old but the inscription is clearly new.  I suppose you can “recycle” tombstones.

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The Conways’ tombstones are clearly new, and I believe they were replaced by the Daughters of the American Revolution, who also replaced the cemetery’s sign on the road.

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This strange arrangement of stones, at first glance the outline of a rubble foundation, on closer inspection does not quite seem right.  Perhaps it was a foundation, or as I suspect, actually a garden of some sort.  Conway Cemetery is said to be the oldest family cemetery in the county; Southern settlers tended to have family plots on their own property, while Northerners had churchyard burials.  It was a great find, and worth visiting on your own.

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8 Responses

    • Tom Maher - Kirkwood

      01/28/2014, 06:02 am

      Enter 38.649427,-90.529372 on Google Satellite or Bing Birdseye.
      OT, but Joseph Conway also had as sister who was kidnapped by Indians and held for six years.
      The DAR did do the new stones, as well as the one by the side of the road, and also maintain the cemetery.

  1. Dawn

    02/06/2014, 10:08 pm

    I guess it could be possible that someone painted in the engraved letters on the slave headstone? My aunt did this one time to my great-grandparent’s stone. The stone was in great shape, but you could barely see the letters. So she went out to the cemetery (rural southeast Missouri) and painted in the letters with a fine brush and black paint. All you need is a steady hand.

    • Chris Naffziger

      02/06/2014, 10:11 pm

      That is a good theory; personally, I believe that someone found an old tombstone and reused it, as slave owners generally did not mark graves of slaves, let alone admit in the inscription that they had not properly memorialized them.

  2. Tom Bartholow

    02/07/2014, 12:36 am

    I’d certainly agree that it looks like an old and very worn down marker with a new cartouche, or whatever you call it, attached like a sticking plaster. That high-contrast legend, however it was achieved, is just asking for public notice; which makes it unfortunate that the verb does not agree with the subject.

    • Chris Naffziger

      02/07/2014, 12:40 am

      Yes, looking at that tombstone again the lettering is so incongruent it looks like I Photoshopped it on there! Oh, and that shape would just be called a shield, from heraldry.


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