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JIM: The mystery of Columbia's Vanished Silent City

The lost Columbia city cemetery: References are made, and clues have been found for this original city cemetery. Historian "Jim" hopes some skilled history detective can pinpoint the actual location of this Vanished Silent City,

By "JIM"

In the course of researching in the Adair County News for the years 1900-1922, a handful of references to Columbia's first - and now forgotten - city cemetery have come to light.

Almost certainly, all the snippets below were penned by long time Columbia resident and News man J.E. Murrell. The date preceding each entry indicates the edition of the paper in which the item appeared.

Can anyone help pinpoint the location of this now vanished silent city?

(March 17, 1909)
There are but few people in Columbia who know where the first city cemetery was located. It was on a hill to the left of the residence of Mr. Geo. A. Smith. A great many of the first settlers of Columbia and their descendants were buried there and for many years after the present one was located a good fence stood around the old one. The writer can remember when many tombstones stood in the lot, giving the names of the deceased. There are no signs of a cemetery now, the ground having been in cultivation for thirty years.

(Dec. 1, 1918)
[W]e venture the assertion that there are but few people in Columbia who know where the first cemetery of the town was located. It was on a hill where Mr. Geo. A. Smith now lives. The writer remembers when many of the headstones could be plainly read. Thirty years or more ago it was plowed over and today there is not a sign of a grave... and we doubt if there is a single person who lives in Columbia now, who can name any of the departed whose bones rest in this old graveyard.

(In 1920, Mr. Smith and his 2nd wife, Rebecca, lived on Greensburg St. near the Dr. C.M. Russell family and the Mrs. Nancy J. Flowers family. Another 1921 article, this one unrelated to the cemetery, referred to "the cliff just beyond where Mr. Geo. A. Smith now resides.")

(Feb. 23, 1921)
Do you know...That the first cemetery in Columbia was on the hill above and to the left of the residence of Mr. Geo. A. Smith?

(Jan. 31, 1922)
Do you remember...When Johnny Sanders taught school in the cemetery which stood where Fred Hill's residence is located?

Perplexing puzzle composed by otherwise unprovocative historian, the gentle "Jim", whose humble, peaceful ways generally dampen any impulse to steer up restless inquiry, but this vexing issue is weighing heavy on his heart. Please help. -ED

This story was posted on 2011-07-13 10:18:32
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