New Harriett and Dred Scott Memorial, Calvary Cemetery

Dedication day, Saturday, September 30, 2023, Calvary Cemetery

I was excited to attend the dedication of the new Dred and Harriett Scott memorial in Calvary Cemetery. There had been a small tombstone, but it was recently upgraded to an easier to find and much more fitting monument. As more and more Americans do not know who the Scotts are, it is more and more important to spread the history of this critical family.

Barnum Hotel, Main and Walnut Streets, 1880, Missouri History Museum, P0023-15010

If you’re curious about some of the places around St. Louis related to the Scotts, there are photographs of places that are gone, as well as many that are still standing. Harriett and Dred worked in the laundry of the famous Barnum Hotel, just steps from the Old Cathedral. Yes, Barnum was related to that Barnum, but sadly it was demolished for a warehouse which in turn came down for the Arch Grounds. The initial trial occurred in the Old Courthouse, of course; I recently found the copy of the deed that transferred the Scott Family from the Emerson Family to Taylor Blow, who would free him several weeks later.

Compton, Richard J, and Camille N Dry. Pictorial St. Louis, the great metropolis of the Mississippi valley; a topographical survey drawn in perspective A.D. St. Louis, Compton & co, 1876. Map. Detail of Plate 88, Library of Congress.

When Dred Scott died, he was first buried in the Wesleyan Cemetery at Grand and Laclede. As can be imagined, that cemetery did not last long and it was moved to St. Louis County, where that location was also later removed. Dred then moved to Calvary. You can see how the rugged topography was still present but being intruded upon by first the Grand Boulevard right-of-way and residential development. Alexander Handlan, the father of the Lavender Lady, later owned a ballpark on the east side of Grand.

Oliver & Whipple’s fire insurance map of St. Louis, Mo., 1876. Vol. 2. Detail of plate 66.

Meanwhile, Harriett would be living in a small alley dwelling near Henry Shaw’s town house in the central city, where she died. Harriett is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Hillsdale.

I came back and looked at the new memorial another day when the crowds were gone, and took some better photos (click on the images to read the text on the monument). The reason there is so much room is that originally they had to buy graves on either side of Scott because he was not allowed to be buried right next to white people.

It has long been a tradition at his grave to leave a penny, with Abraham Lincoln’s face on it, of course, or a stone on Scott’s grave. I had a nice stone that had randomly shown up at my house and had been floating around for much of the last year, and I realized I finally had a perfect place for it to be placed.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Dorris Keeven-Franke says:

    That’s great that you found that deed. What’s the date? There is still so much history in St. Louis still waiting to be discovered and I love that you’re back to St. Louis with your blog.

    1. cnaffziger says:

      The deed was in 1857, just a few weeks before the whole family was freed!

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