Tours of mausoleums and gravesites of prominent figures during the bustling economic growth of the Tri-State Mining District and other activities will be presented Saturday, June 18, at “Eternal Homes ... from Murphysburg to Mount Hope Cemetery.”
The event is offered by Historic Murphysburg Preservation in cooperation with the Dream Theatre Troupe, Mount Hope Cemetery and the Webb City Chamber of Commerce.
A hands-on workshop on headstone restoration and maintenance will be the first event of the day. It will take place at 10 a.m. that day, teaching those who enroll the basics of headstone restoration, maintenance, and safe cleaning practices. Participants should bring a bucket and soft brush, and the rest of the supplies will be provided.
Cemetery tours will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. with theatrical vignettes performed every 15 minutes at select mausoleums by the Dream Theatre Troupe. During the tours, docents will be available to assist guests and provide information. There will be historic reenactors, trolley rides to tour the cemetery, music and food trucks.
The event is intended to educate visitors on the cemetery and those who have chosen it.
The cemetery was established in 1905 by a group of 11 business and community leaders from Joplin and Webb City. They worked together to create a new cemetery centrally located between the two cities, yet remote from the residential or business development of that era.
They also wanted to find a parcel of land large enough to provide for a century’s worth of growth. To do so, they bought a 77-acre farm that included land that was located on the highest point in Jasper County.
The property had been the site of the Pilot Grove community during pre-Civil War days.
Although it then was a rural location, it was on the route of the Alfred H. Rogers’ electric railway line, which would provide transportation to the cemetery. Rogers was a director and officer in the cemetery association and the key figure in establishing the cemetery. After the cemetery was established, His trolley line was fitted with funeral cars to transport coffins. Roger’s home in Joplin is one of three that is to be restored to be part of the Historical Homes Museum that is being developed in Murphysburg by the David Humphreys family.
The cemetery developers hired Sid Hare, one of the country’s leading landscape architects, to design the layout of the cemetery with a “park-like appearance produced by clean undulating lawns, broken only by serpentine drives, trees and shrubs,” stated the Mount Hope Cemetery booklet.
His firm, Hare and Hare, later went on to assist in the design of places such as the Kansas City Country Club Plaza and Nelson Art Gallery, according to the Murphysburg event organizers.
“Mount Hope Cemetery represents an extremely valuable cultural and historical asset of the Four-State Area through their genealogical information, gravestone architecture, and iconography,” said one of the Murphysburg founders, Paula Callihan.
A co-founder of the city of Joplin, Patrick Murphy, the namesake of Murphysburg, and Webb City founding father John Cornwell Webb are both interred at Mount Hope.
Tickets for the event are $20 in advance and $25 at Mount Hope the day of the event. Go online to https://murphysburg.org to buy advance tickets.
The event is a fundraiser for education and events related to Murphysburg history.