My family and I have moved all over the southern and eastern US over the past ten years because we were in the military. We have lived in places that I never would have imagined living and others that I thoroughly enjoyed. We have settled near St Louis, a city that neither my husband nor I come from. When I started doing my family tree research, I was shocked to realize that many of our relatives lived in the St Louis area at some point and many of them had lived here for quite a long time. We had no idea! One of the greatest finds that I have tracked down in this area for my husband’s side of the family is the Old Pitman Cemetery located in St Charles, Missouri.
When I began asking my husband’s exclusively Californian family for information to start their family tree, I was quite surprised to find out that his grandmother was born not too far from where we eventually settled down ourselves. She knew that her parents had been born in the St Louis area as we but that was the extent of her knowledge of the St Louis family connections. Her family had moved to California when she was 7 years old, leaving St Louis behind.
Her grandmother’s maiden name was Pitman, a name that I hadn’t heard of before and had no significance to me or to the area as far as I had known. It turns out however, that her Pitman family was one of the founding families of the St Charles, Missouri area. I found a fantastic biography including many members of her family tree in the “A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri” written in 1876.
Some of these Pitman’s are buried in the Old Pitman Cemetery, in what was once known as Wards Hollow, Missouri. I have only recently figured out exactly where this cemetery actually is. It is in a quite remote area of the Weldon Spring Conservation Area in St. Charles County, Missouri and requires hiking a couple of miles along the Lewis and Clark hiking trail, on and off trail. I am anxiously awaiting spring so I can make the trek to see it all.
From what I have been able to find out, many of the headstones are no longer present, so I am not sure exactly what I will find. From Gone, But Not Forgotten (p. 11): “Near Hamburg, on bluff overlooking Wards Hollow. There were many people buried in this cemetery. Only one stone remained–the farmer having stacked the stones against the fence earlier: PITMAN, Richard B. Oct 1784 – Nov. 1842. He was the son of Thomas Pitman and married Lucinda Hutchings. He settled in St. Charles County in 1811.”
What is known however, is that at one time at least, there were several headstones present at the cemetery. The story goes that the farmer who later owned the land simply removed the headstones in order to have more land to plow. A descendent of Richard Pitman later convinced the farmer to return Pitman’s marker to its original location. Overgrown and unkempt, this little cemetery houses the remains of some of my husband’s ancestors. One that is known is that of David Kyle Pitman, (b: 1805 – Kentucky, d: 1891 – Missouri). David Kyle Pitman, my husband’s fourth great-grandfather, was a “leading member of the Southern Methodist Church, and…filled many prominent and responsible positions to the entire satisfactory of his brethren. He has had much to do with the educational institutions of that Church.” (A History of the Pioneer Families of Missouri, 1876, pg 180) Though weathered and difficult to read, and now apparently taken down, a photograph of his headstone was found on findagrave.com.
Another grave located is that of David Kyle’s father, John Pitman, my husband’s fifth great-grandfather. According to the biography, “John Pitman, a brother of Thomas, settled in St. Charles County in 1810.” (pg 180) John Pitman was born in 1753 in Virginia and died in 1839 in St Charles County, Missouri.