A Brief History of Fairview Cemetery

A Brief History of Fairview Cemetery

May is Preservation Month! As such, we’re sharing brief histories of Joplin, Missouri’s four city-owned cemeteries; this is part four of four in the series.

Fairview Cemetery was in use as Joplin Cemetery as early as 1832, prior to the incorporation of the City of Joplin. In September 1873, about six months after the city’s incorporation, Mayor E.R. Moffet, Joplin’s first mayor, drafted and signed a notarized document stating that the cemetery would henceforth be released to the public for public use, thus creating Joplin’s first municipal cemetery. It is not yet known when or why the name of the cemetery changed from Joplin Cemetery to Fairview Cemetery, but it’s evident that ‘Fairview’ was in common use by 1914 and likely earlier.

Some sources indicate the land for Fairview Cemetery was donated by Patrick Murphy, the founder of Murphysburg, which, in March 1873, incorporated with Joplin City (now known as Joplin’s East Town neighborhood) to become the City of Joplin.

For 60 years, it was Joplin’s only municipal cemetery. Fairview Cemetery is associated with numerous city-founders and other persons of note. Some of them include the Murphy, Picher, and Zelleken families; Percy Wenrich; Harry and Jennings Young; Joel Livingston; Jessie F. Osborne; John B. Sergeant; Gilbert Barbee; John Reding; Thomas Gilyard; and Thomas Bellas.

Veterans from the American Civil War, the Spanish-American War, both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam are interred at Fairview. As are Masons, members of the Order of the Eastern Star, Oddfellows, Shriners, and Woodsman. Fairview also contains a Potter’s Field.

In 2018-19, a subcommittee of the Joplin Historic Preservation Commission conducted an architectural survey of all four of Joplin’s city-owned cemeteries. Also, they researched and wrote nominations for the cemeteries to be included on the city’s Local Landmark/Historic Sites list. Although the nominations were submitted in summer 2019, the commission awaits a fresh survey of one of the cemetery sites before the nominations can move to the next phase of the Local Landmark nomination process. Click HERE to view the nomination in its entirety, including supporting documentation.

Volunteer Fire Department section in Joplin’s Fairview Cemetery. Photo: Paula Callihan

Contributed by Jill Sullivan, Post Art Library Director, Joplin Historic Preservation Commission Chairperson, and Missouri Preservation Board Member