Jefferson City National Cemetery is a United States National Cemetery administered by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. It encompasses two acres and, as of 2005, had 1,792 interments. The cemetery is maintained by the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
The first interments took place in the National Cemetery in 1861 and were American Civil War soldiers who died in the small battles that took place around the region. The site of the cemetery, which local residents Israel and Mary Read sold to the government, was surveyed and classified as a national cemetery during the war. Though the area did not see any wide-scale combat, it was officially designated a National Cemetery in 1867. The cemetery was also added to the list of National Register of Historic Places on October 1, 1998.
The Jefferson City National Cemetery features a rectangular layout that has changed little since the 1860s. The grounds are surrounded by an ashlar stone wall, which replaced the original wooden fence in 1871. Today, the stone wall still stands along three sides of the cemetery. On the fourth side, by the main entrance on McCarty Street, a wrought-iron fence replaced the stone wall in 1937.
Just inside the main gate is the superintendent’s lodge, a one-and-one-half story brick building in the architectural style of the late nineteenth century. The lodge’s design follows the standard plan issued by U.S. Army Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs. The lodge is one of the seventeen remaining from the nineteenth century found at Civil War-era national cemeteries. Built in 1870, the building was constructed of ashlar stone and features stone quoins, or angles, on the corner of the building. Typical of architecture at the time, the lodge is topped by a steep slanting Mansard roof covered in hexagonal slate tiles of varying colors. In 1931, a one-story kitchen addition was built at the rear of the lodge. In 1937, an ashlar limestone, two-story utility building was constructed to the left of the lodge, which contains storage space and public restrooms. The cemetery’s flagpole, along the main drive near the lodge, dates from 1926.
One of the most well known monuments in the cemetery is the 39th Regiment Monument of Centralia, Missouri, erected in 1868 to commemorate the members of Companies A, G, and H of the Missouri Volunteer Infantry who died at the hands of William T. Anderson’s bushwhacker raiders in the Centralia Massacre on September 27, 1864. The monument marks the trench burial of the 118 men interred there.
One notable burial at the Jefferson City National Cemetery is Logan Bennett, one of the original founders of the city’s Lincoln University, a historically black college established by men of the 62nd and 65th U.S. Colored Infantries. The soldiers raised funds to create a university to benefit newly freed African Americans. The new university was modeled after the Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute.
Jefferson City National Cemetery is currently closed to new interments. The only interments being accepted are subsequent interments for veterans or eligible family members in an existing grave site. Occasionally, burial spaces become available due to a change in burial plans. When this scenario occurs, the grave site is made available to any other eligible veteran on a first-come, first-serve basis. The cemetery is open from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily and is located off McCarty Street.