Located in the same vicinity as Bellefontaine Cemetery, Calvary Cemetery was established in 1857 and is operated by the Roman Catholic Church in St. Louis. Many members of the Chouteau family, who were co-founders of the city of St. Louis, are buried in Calvary Cemetery along with government figures, American Indians, Civil War commanders and other famous people. Calvary Cemetery came into existence during the St. Louis cholera epidemic that lasted from 1832 to 1833. The mortality rate during the epidemic was so high, that all of the smaller cemetery’s in St. Louis filled up very quickly.
By 1849, St. Louis had become a boomtown due to the number of people converging there who were heading out to California and due to a large influx of German immigrants who had fled a revolution in their homeland. During this time, a second outbreak of cholera hit the city. Again, the smaller cemeteries could not keep pace with the high mortality rates. After the outbreak passed, Bellefontaine and Calvary Cemeteries were formed via city ordinance. It was believed at the time that the cemeteries in the city contributed to the outbreak and so the new ordinance dictated that all new cemeteries be built outside the city limits. In 1853, the Archbishop of St. Louis Peter R. Kenrick purchased the Old Orchard Farm that was situated northwest of St. Louis from politician Henry Clay. Archbishop Kenrick established his own farm on half the land and had the rest set aside for the building of a cemetery. As Calvary Cemetery grew, so did the acreage to the site. At one time, the site was used by American Indians as a sacred burial site as well as a burial site for soldiers at Fort Bellefontaine. After Calvary Cemetery was opened, the Indians and solders buried there were reinterred in a mass grave under a crucifix and is one of the highest points in the cemetery. Over the years, many famous people in Missouri and American history would be interred at Calvary Cemetery. This includes General William Tecumseh Sherman, Dred Scott, playwright Tennessee Williams, Mary Odilia Berger, founder of Franciscan Sisters of Mary, which operates hospitals in Midwest, Mickey Carroll, one of the munchkins in The Wizard of Oz film, author Kate Chopin, François Chouteau fur trader and businessman, founder of Kansas City, Missouri and René Auguste Chouteau, fur trader, cofounder of the city of St. Louis.
Today, Calvary Cemetery is open to the public at no cost, though visitors should keep in mind that it is a sacred place and to behave accordingly. The cemetery is opendaily from 8 am to 5 pm. The cemetery’s office is open weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and Saturday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm. Because the cemetery is operated by the Catholic Church, the office closed on Sundays, holy days and holidays. Days Inn Downtown St. Louis and Americas Best Value Inn are two hotels nearest the cemetery.