Old Salem Cemetery Transcription
OLD SALEM CEMETERY
Springfield, Greene County, MO
Photographed and transcribed by Johnna Quick and Heather Gilbert on
10 July 2004.
Melissa R 6-14-1836 6-14-1901 Wife of DA Headlee, GW Huff &
BW Appleby “A beautiful life ends not in death”
David 4 Dragoons Rev War (newer marker)
David 4-17-1761 3-24-1840 Age 79yr 11mo 7da (original marker,
Emory 4-1777 3-18—
David H 12-16-1796 4-7-1860 Aged 63yr 3mo 22da (Stone broken
and mostly unreadable)
Marina 5-11-1805 9-3-1863 Our mother Consort of David H
Bedell Aged 58yr 3mo 22da “Even to the latest breath Hark
to that the savior Be thou faithful unto death And take the
crown of life.”
Fanny 8-19-1797 11-15-1856 Born in NC
DC 7-10-1801 6-28-1870
No first name born 1821
Henry 2-10-1865 1-19-1917
Nancy 8-11-1871 (buried in another cemetery)
Elisha 5-18-1760 10-8-1845 Pvt NJ Militia Rev War (new marker)
Elisha 5-18-1760 10-8-1845 (old marker)
DA d. 10-25-1862 Aged 31yr 2mo 4da
Joseph 4-17-1798 9-28-1862 Our father
Martha 11-26-1800 6-16-1881 Our mother
Caleb 11-5-1788 8-8-1847
George W 2-22-1837 11-30-1888
Sarah 7-8-1842 11-27-1892
SJ 3-15-1827 6-15-1890
Infant son of AP and SE 10-21-1894
Mary E 11-6-1836 11-16-1918 Wife of JD Spencer
Matuda or Matilda 7-11-1807 4-2-1872 Our Aunt Aged 64yr 9mo
10da Daughter of Mathew and Sara Wallis
Sarah 2-15-1762 7-31-1847 Aged 83yr 5mo 20da Consort of
Jeptha 4-26-1800 8-13-1879 Aged 79yr 3mo 17da
Nancy A 12-18-1799 1-25-1890 Wife of Jeptha Wallis “In memory
of thy generous worth, this monument is given, by those
whome thou hast left on earth but trust will meet in heaven.”
Robert L 9-12-1852 11-11-1856 Son of M and Sarah J Wallis
Nancy A 8-28-1863 9-7-1865 Daughter of M and Sarah J Wallis
Lenard M 2-22-1855 11-9-1856 Son of M and Sarah J Wallis
Matthew 10-26-1827 10-28-1895 Died as he lived a Devoted
Christian “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from
henceforth, Yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from
their labors and their works do follow them.”
Sarah J 11-24-1830 7-15-1889 Wife of Matthew Wallis “Gone
home to God”
Sallie died 10-10-1911 Age 39 years At rest
RF 1866 1944
According to the property owner, several of the stones have been
stolen. These stones were noted in previous transcriptions, newspaper
abstracts, and word of mouth:
ROGERS __ne 5-20-1829 10-28-1874
ROGERS ___ 4-1-1860 -
MARTIN Johnson died 10-8-1899 Age 61
SMALL Lucy 1831 7-18-1877 Wife of Sony Small
BAKER Silas 6-25-1816 11-23-1840
ANDREW Emily E 11-20-1814 2-10-1884 Aged 26yr 2mo 20da Consort of
ANDREW Lanora 9-20-1842 2-16-1843 Daughter of W and EJ Andrew
More than half of this cemetery contains the graves of slaves and
freed slaves. I am working to document as many as can be found, and
will update this page as information becomes available.
From the Springfield News Leader, 4 July 2007:
Revolutionary War gravesites added to historic sites register
© 2007, Springfield News-Leader
The Greene County Commission named four Revolutionary War soldiers'
gravesites to the Greene County Historic Sites Register Monday during its
regular commission session.
The sites, identified by the Rachel Donelson Chapter of the Daughters of
the American Revolution and nominated by the Greene County Historic
Sites Board, are all located in northern Greene County. The soldiers are:
- James Barham (1764-1865)
Barham was a native of Virginia who enlisted near the end of the revolution
in 1781 when he was 16 years old. He was present for the Battle of Petersburg
and for Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown. After the Revolutionary War,
Barham moved several times, progressively farther west, finally settling in
Greene County in 1846 when he was 92 years old. Before his death in 1865,
he was honored in a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln as one of the
last five living Revolutionary War veterans. He is buried at Mount Pleasant
Cemetery near Willard.
- David Bedell (1761-1840)
A New Jersey native, Bedell entered service at age 17, just after his father
was killed in the revolution. He served first as a drummer boy and later in
the cavalry under Col. Stephen Moylan's 4th Continental Light Dragoons in
Virginia, South Carolina and Pennsylvania. After the war, he married and
lived in North Carolina for many years before he homesteaded in Greene
County with his sons in 1835. He is buried in Old Salem Cemetery in
northeast Greene County.
- Elisha Headlee (1760-1845)
Headlee was also from New Jersey. He and Bedell were boyhood friends.
Headlee joined the service when he was 16 or 17 years old and served as
a private in the Morris County Militia. Headlee and Bedell's wives were
sisters, which made the men brothers-in-laws. Headlee joined family
members living in Greene County in 1836 and died in 1845. Headlee
and Bedell are buried side by side in Old Salem Cemetery.
- Samuel Steele (1762-1847)
Steele was raised in North Carolina and served in the North Carolina
Company as a private and a horseman. He married and remained in
North Carolina after the war, and the Steele and Headlee families were
neighbors and close friends. Five of Steele's daughters married five of
Headlee's sons. Steele joined his children in Greene County in 1840. He
died seven years later and is buried in Mount Comfort Cemetery, eight
miles north of Springfield.
A fifth Revolutionary War soldier, William Freeman, is buried in the
Springfield National Cemetery.
Greene County Historic Sites Board Jackie Warfel said it was not unusual
for early settlers of Greene County to be so closely related.
"They tended to move here as family units," said Warfel, who submitted
the nomination applications to the board. "Three of these soldiers were
friends from the time of the revolution. They built a lasting bond while
they were very young, and their families and neighbors came here
together and built schools and churches and intermarried."
The Revolutionary War soldiers still have descendants living in the area,
several who attended Monday's commission session, accompanied by
members of the DAR, the Sons of the American Revolution and Greene
County Historic Sites Board members.
Leonard Johnson Jr., a descendent of Barham, said he found out about
his ancestor's involvement in the revolution in the 1970s when he visited
Mount Pleasant Cemetery and found a special military grave marker that
had been placed there by the DAR in 1911.
"I'm kind of thrilled about the big brown sign," Johnson said about the
Greene County Historic Sites marker that will be placed at the cemetery.
"That means my descendants won't have to struggle to find the gravestone."
Larry Voris, who is a great-great-great-great grandson of both Samuel
Steele and Elisha Headlee, said having family members in the military
today reminds him of the sacrifices of his ancestors who fought in the
"When you've got four in the service, you appreciate those people who
fought before," said Voris, whose son, son-in-law, grandson and nephew
are currently serving in the military. "Somebody has to do the fighting
for us, and we have to appreciate those people who did that for us years
The Greene County Historic Sites board was established in 1979 as an
advisory board for the identification protection retention and preservation
of historic sites in the county. County Historic Site designation provides
recognition to historic properties and serves as a gateway for inclusion
on the Missouri and National Historic Site Register. The designation does
not restrict an owner's ability to alter, manage or dispose of the property.
From the Springfield News Leader, 20 Oct 2007:
Soldiers lie at rest far from battlefields of Revolution
Dedication of local grave sites brings focus to veterans' sacrifices and
Polly Still bent down and slowly traced her finger along the weather-worn
letters etched in a flat stone buried halfway in the ground. Barely readable,
the fading marks tell the story of a Revolutionary War soldier who lies in
a once-forgotten cemetery north of Springfield.
"These letters were just scratched into this soft limestone," Still said. "They
didn't have power tools back then."
Today, the Greene County Historic Sites Board will dedicate the grave site
of that soldier, David Bedell, and two others who fought the British in
America's war for independence.
As Revolutionary War veterans, all three were given the right to make a
"bounty land" claim of 100 acres, which they did in Greene County.
Bedell, 1761-1840, and Elisha Headlee, 1760-1845, are buried next to each
other in the Old Salem Cemetery.
Samuel Steele, 1762-1847, is buried in Mount Comfort Cemetery eight miles
north of Springfield, but shares an unusual connection with Headlee.
Five of Steele's daughters married five of Headlee's sons, and many of
their descendants continue to live in the Springfield area.
The Bedell name also courses through Greene County history, in a long
tradition of skilled musicians.
The grave sites of all three men will be dedicated today to acknowledge
their contributions to Greene County's history.
Still said she and her late husband Herman had no idea the cemetery
existed when they bought the land in 1974 to build a country home.
While placing utility poles and and stringing power lines, they discovered
a surprise beneath a tangle of weeds and trees.
"We found the grave stones and then we found ... depressions in the back
that we later learned were slave graves," Still said.
"I appreciate how the slaves took care of their own when they died. This
area was full of beautiful flowers — unusual ones like prairie orchids — that
had been planted among the graves."
They cleared the site and Still, a history buff and archaeologist, began
digging into the past.
She discovered part of the cemetery was originally deeded as a school
site in the 1830s.
"It was only used for three months in 1836 to teach black children letters
and cyphering," she said. "It was little more than a log-pole barn with a
The school building later became the Old Salem Methodist Church, with
the cemetery next to it.
Springfield resident Larry Voris traces his lineage to Elisha Headlee, who
was a private with the New Jersey militia in the 1770s.
"He is my fourth great-grandfather," Voris said, observing Headlee's grave
stone. "Five Headlee boys married five Steele girls and I'm descended from
one of those marriages."
Voris said he's glad the Revolutionary War soldiers are being honored.
"It's important to remember what they did for us in 1776," he said. "It's for
the freedom they allow us to have today. Without them, we might be under
somebody else's rule."
Korean and Vietnam War veteran Clarence Hill heard about today's ceremony
and stopped by earlier this week to see the soldiers' graves.
"Knowing of my military experience, I appreciate how awful it must have been
for them back in those days," Hill said. "They didn't have C-rations. They had
to live off the land. If they got shot through the leg, they'd just amputate it.
Now a helicopter will whisk you back to a hospital for immediate care."
The Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American
Revolution verified the historic grave sites and placed new, legible stones
over the graves.
Jackie Warfel, a member of the Greene County Historic Sites Board, said it's
important to accurately identify and preserve such sites to keep history alive
for future generations.
The Historic Sites Board and Greene County Commissioners have dedicated
more than 50 historically important sites beyond Springfield's city limits since
the board was established in 1979.
"There may be other Revolutionary War soldiers buried out here in the county
that we don't know about," Warfel said. "We hope to document them as well if
Two and possibly three more Revolutionary War soldiers are buried in the
James Barham is buried at Mount Pleasant Cemetery near Willard and was
honored in a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln as one of the last
five living Revolutionary War veterans.
William Freeman is buried in the Springfield National Cemetery.
Some historians believe Samuel Austin, who is buried in Hazelwood Cemetery,
may also have Revolutionary War ties.
A copy of an 1897 photo shows Old Salem Methodist Church, which
began in a similar form as a school for black children in 1836.