Father Dickson Cemetery: Gravois Greenway (Grant’s Trail)

Located along Gravois Greenway: Grant’s Trail at Sappington Road, Father Dickson Cemetery was one of the first public cemeteries available to African Americans in the St. Louis area. More than 6,000 people were interred there before it closed in the 1970’s. Without a perpetual care endowment, the cemetery fell victim to abuse and neglect and was at risk of commercial development. Friends of Father Dickson Cemetery organized in 1988 to restore and preserve the historic 13-acre site and more than 167 years of African American History.

In October 2021, the cemetery was named to the National Register of Historic Places! This will make Fr. Dickson Cemetery eligible for possible grants, preservation benefits and incentives.

Father Moses Dickson

The cemetery is named for Father Moses Dickson. He was an Abolitionist who traveled the south, organizing a secret anti-slavery organization known as the “Knights of Liberty” which helped enslaved people to freedom through the Underground Railroad. During the Civil war, many of the Knighs of Liberty fought with the union forces, incurring many casualties. He was also a Minister of the African Methodist Church, founded the International Order of Twelve(a Black self-help organization), and was an educator and activist for Black suffrage.

In 1872 he was appointed Elector-at-Large (a representative in the Electoral College) for the Ulysses S. Grant presidency. He later went on to become president of the Refugee Relief Board, helping relocate 16,000 previously enslaved people. He died in St. Louis and is buried at the cemetery named in his honor. Read more about Father Dickson and the cemetery from the historians at the US Grant Historic site here. 

You can purchase a self-guided walking tour and map of the Father Dickson Cemetery at the Sappington House, The Barn Restaurant (next to Sappington House) or US Grant Historic Site.

Notable African Americans Buried at the Cemetery

  • John Vashon: Renowned attorney, linguist and teacher for whom Vashon High School in St. Louis is named
  • James Milton Turner: Educator, founder of Lincoln University and first U.S. Ambassador to Liberia
  • Susan Paul Vashon: Distinguished teacher, school principal, Abolitionist and community organizer
  • Veterans of the American Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I & II and the Korean Conflict


Where is Father Dickson Cemetery?

Father Dickson cemetery is located at 845 Sappington Rd, St. Louis, MO 63126 in Crestwood. The southern edge of the cemetery is bordered by Gravois Greenway.

For updates, follow Friends of Father Dickson Cemetery on Facebook.

Help this Historic Cemetery

Would you like to help preserve and care for this historic Black cemetery? Volunteers are needed on the 3rd Saturday of every month April –November from 10-noon. Call 314-822-8221 for more information or email friendsoffather@aol.com

Ernest Jordan, President of Friends of Father Dickson Cemetery