An early photo of Mt. Hope Cemetery, with the original buildings.

The Mt. Hope watertower.

A postcard photo shows the Mt. Hope entrance.

Ancestors, Legends & Time

High mound was the perfect place to establish Mt. Hope Cemetery

Picture of Jeanne Newby

Jeanne Newby

May 8, 2024

Thomas C. Webb (a cousin to our founder John C. Webb) came to Jasper County from Overton, Tenn., in 1856 and found some land that he thought was so beautiful with its rolling hills and numerous trees. Standing on the high point of his land, Thomas could see for miles. He named his land Pilot Grove.

During the Civil War uprising, vigilantes were active along the Missouri/Kansas lines. The sad part is those who were often killed were just defending their property. Thomas Webb, at the age of 40, was one of those brave property owners who lost his life in the struggle to protect his land and family.

His wife and widow, Mary Carr Webb, managed to keep the farm and raise her children alone. She divided the land among her children. One of those children was Erasmus Webb, who was married to his second cousin, Eliza Jane Terry. Eliza and Erasmus had three children, Jesse Thomas Webb, John Edward Webb, and Clementine E. Webb. Erasmus died in 1888, leaving Eliza to raise their three children. Eliza married William Alanzo Bigger, and they had three more children, Arzo, Orton and Maude Bigger. The land on the hill was soon referred to as The Bigger Place, but old timers still referred to it as Pilot Grove.

On the 12th of April, 1905, 11 businessmen from Webb City and Joplin incorporated a business and purchased the 77 acres from Eliza Jane Webb Bigger and her older children for $11,500. The 11 men were: W.S. Chinn, Thomas F. Coyne, James H. Dangerfield, R.B. Dodge, W.S. Gunning, J.A. Hardy, Sr., J.M. Leonard, George W. Moore, A.H. Rogers, Thomas J. Roney, and Charles Schifferdecker. They were very prominent and influential men banding together with a plan in mind.

The name of their corporation was The Mount Hope Cemetery Association of Jasper County, Missouri. They had plans to turn the hill known as Pilot Grove and The Bigger Place into a beautiful, park-like cemetery, Mount Hope, in tribute to the early pioneers of Jasper County. The officers were: J.A. Hardy, president; Charles Schifferdecker, vice-president; W.S. Chinn, secretary; A.H. Rogers, treasurer; T.N. Campbell, superintendent, and Sid J. Hare, landscape architect.

By 1906, it was stated in Webb City Illustrated that Mt. Hope had 120 acres. The ad also noted that:

It’s the only cemetery in the district where care is bestowed on all lots, without extra cost.

The grounds are dedicated for cemetery purposes only.

Situated on high ground so graves are always perfectly dry.

Perpetuated Maintenance Fund and has the financial strength of being out of debt and having among its stockholders the leading businessmen of both Joplin and Webb City.

Very accessible… the streetcar fare from Joplin, Webb City and Carterville to the entrance is only 5 cents.

But these gentlemen not only had the future in mind, they also had plans to preserve history. They decided to make this beautiful cemetery a tribute to those wonderful families that helped to build Webb City and Joplin into the successful cities they were. So, they contacted family members and made plans to have the bodies of those historical pioneers moved to the Mount Hope Cemetery. When you enter the cemetery, the top mound is the memorial section for those wonderful forefathers and their families.

The original entrance to the Mount Hope Cemetery had a three-story club house to the left, the office to the right and a water tower. The club house was torn down in 1957, and a new superintendent office was built in its place.

In 2002, the Veteran’s Memorial was added to Mount Hope Cemetery on the north side.

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.