|Death: ||Sep. 14, 1891|
Article at right was published in the September 17, 1891 edition of the Carthage Weekly Press newspaper in Carthage, MO.
Annie Hollenschild was sentenced from Gasconade county to prison for murder.
Little is know about where prisoners were buried in the late 1800's. Some research provided the information below.
Prison records do not reveal what happened to the bodies of inmates who died in prison but. . . . most were either claimed by their families, donated to the University of Missouri for medical research, or were buried by the state. From the very early days of the penitentiary, there was a pressing need for a burying ground for those unfortunate enough to die behind the prison walls.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, burials for convicts were not performed with much consideration for the departed. The earliest documentation regarding burials at the penitentiary is found in George Thompson's 1847 book, Prison Life and Reflections:
Those who die are nailed up in a rough box and placed beneath the ground, with much less ceremony than many make over a dumb brute. When Capt. Gorden's [Gordon's] dog died, he had a nice coffin made, and fine grave stones cut, with a splendid inscription, "My Dog Trip" ...
Thirty-three years later, General John McDonald, a convict turned author himself, described a convict burial in his book, Secrets of the Great Whiskey Ring and Eighteen Months in the Penitentiary:
When a convict dies he is stripped of everything except the course shirt he has on at the time of death and is then carried to the "dead room" which is in the basement of the hospital. The burial takes place at the convenience of those whose duty it is to perform this office; sometimes directly after death occurs and then again it is delayed for a day or more. When the time of burial is decided upon the body is placed in a coffin of unplanned boards containing some shavings for it to rest on; the "dead box" is then shoved into a dirt cart drawn by a mule. A Negro drives the cart while following behind is a "trusty" carrying a spade. This queer procession winds its way out to the convicts' cemetery near the brickyard, where the body is dumped into a shallow hole and quickly covered up. The brick makers, in using so much clay, have encroached upon the burying ground, and many bones have been unearthed, but they are thrown into gullies and serve to fill up with fresh dirt that washes about the yard.
McDonald went on to say that a number of convicts' bodies were "submitted to the scalpel for the curiosity of medical science." This no doubt, took place at the University of Missouri which was located only thirty miles from the penitentiary.
John McDonald's description of the prison cemetery gives a valuable clue as to its location. The prison brickyards and clay pits were near the prison quarry, an area that is still visible today. There was only one quarry, of the several that the prison operated, that was near the prison brickyard and clay pits. All three—the quarry, brickyard and clay pits—were just outside and east of the main prison wall, near what is now Chestnut Street and Capitol Avenue. The perimeter wall that exists today was not built until after 1900, with final completion around 1914. The prison cemetery from at least 1844 until around 1870 to 1875 is believed to have been where the prison ball field is currently located. That is the only location inside the prison's perimeter walls that has not seen substantial building construction over the years.
In James B. "Firebug" Johnson's book, Buried Alive or Eighteen Years in the Missouri Penitentiary (published in 1905), Johnson seems to confirm the cemetery's new location farther from the prison, but the unedited description obviously predates the days of Warden Pace's hearse:
When a convict dies he is placed in a pine box, and in charge of a trusty sometimes accompanied by the prison chaplain with a mule hitched to a cart they wind their way to the convicts' cemetery on a hillside south of the suburbs of the city. The cemetery contains about five acres of ground, overgrown with thorns, briars, sumac and thistle. Here in their final cells repose the bodies of nearly one thousand convicts, who have laid down their burdens to rest while time was passing to slow for them. The trusty and chaplain arrive with their dead burden and hurriedly perform their duty and depart for the place seems to be a forlorn and desolate one.
The land Johnson describes is where the current Lincoln University Library and Student Union buildings now stand. In the 1930's, the late Jefferson City funeral director Victor Buescher was authorized to move a number of convict remains from the cemetery at Lincoln University to what is now Longview Cemetery, at the western edge of Jefferson City. Buescher told Schreiber (in 1989) that the burials consisted only of skeletal remains and there were no markers, records or identification of any kind. He indicated that many bodies had been buried one on top of another in shallow graves. The exact number of bodies Buescher moved is unknown, but what is known would not support the "nearly one thousand convicts" referenced in Johnson's book. One conclusion that can clearly be drawn is that between McDonald's admission to the penitentiary in 1875, and when J.B. Johnson wrote his account in 1905, the prison cemetery was moved from the penitentiary site to the Lincoln University site.
nmate death records—from disease, violent acts, suicide or natural causes—are undoubtedly inaccurate and under-represent the number of bodies for which there is any accounting. They do contribute to the theory that a cemetery of significant proportion exists on or near the penitentiary grounds. Other factors support this theory as well: (1) In 19th century America, the families of convicts oftentimes did not know, or did not care to know, what happened to convict relatives who died behind prison walls. An even greater factor was the poor communication that existed. Frequently, family members received no notification of the death. Even if they did, transportation from Jefferson City was limited and few families could afford to have a body shipped by steamboat or train from the prison to another geographic area.
Also supporting the belief that a burial site of some proportion exists is the fear that the populace in the 19th and early 20th century had of the spread of infectious diseases like smallpox, cholera, typhoid and tuberculosis. Prison officials who dictated how bodies would be disposed, the prisoners who would dispose of them, and the public that observed, would have buried bodies as quickly as possible. Convict bodies, which were not embalmed in those days, would not have been transported any significant distance from the prison.
Missouri Digital Heritage
Specifically: Buried at prison cemetery. Exact location of that cemetery is now lost to the times.
Created by: NJBrewer
Record added: Jan 13, 2013
Find A Grave Memorial# 103515729
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