Scenic USA - Missouri

Old Lorimier Cemetery

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Old Lorimier Cemetery - Cape Girardeau, Missouri

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

     One of the oldest cities on the west bank of the Mississippi River, Cape Girardeau began as a trading post in 1733. Located on a high bluff overlooking the river, the trading post was established by Jean D. Girardot. Located in Indian territory, Girardot's outpost on the promontory became a welcome site to white trappers and river travelers. The popular trading post soon became known as Cape Girardot. When river traffic increased, Spanish officials called on the services of French-Canadian Don Louis Lorimier to establish a military post. Serving as the city's first ambassador in 1793, Lorimier welcomed settlers and served as an intermediary with nearly 20 different Native American tribes.
     While Louis Lorimier, second cousin to George Washington, is credited for establishing the town of Cape Girardeau, a few of Lorimier Cemetery Headstones - Cape Girardeau, Missouri Lorimier's close associates hoped to call the new city Lorimont. But, by that time the name Cape Girardot was so fully entrenched the Lorimont name never took hold. The Old Lorimier Cemetery was established in 1808, and is one of the oldest burial plots west of the Mississippi River. While the city name continues to bear a reference to the Girardot name (Girardeau), the cemetery name does honor the town founder Lorimier.
     The five acre cemetery site holds 1446 marked gravesites, while thousands more lie unmarked. Filled to capacity, the cemetery received its last burial 35 years ago. Located on Fountain Street, the segregated cemetery is divided into sections for Catholics, African-Americans and Protestants. A majority of the known gravesites are causalities of the Civil War. A way to hide the high number of dead soldiers, multiple bodies were placed in one gravesite. In 2005, concerned community members issued a nomination request to the National Register for the historic burial site. If approved, the National Register of Historic Places would provide funds to restore this old Missouri landmark.

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