A Graveyard Mystery

            In the middle of the August Busch Conservation Area, not far from an aging TNT storage bunker, the William Price Cemetery hides in the woods at the top of a gently sloping hill.  The ground is covered with a thick carpet of periwinkle that has cascaded over the hill and down its face.  In the fall beautiful golden leaves of yellow maples roof the site. This cemetery is home to eight burials marked only with flat stones the grieving families placed at the heads of their loved ones’ graves.  The cemetery also is home to a mystery.
            Resting against a tree, a tablet-shaped headstone proclaims these words:                  

                          At rest
                       Julia Smith
                     Aug 11, 1865
                      Jan 24, 1912

Cemetery records made in 1941 make no reference to this stone being present.  Hence, the mystery: who was Julia Smith and what is her gravestone doing here?
           Julia Smith’s death certificate, recently discovered on the internet, solves part of the mystery.  Julia Kidwell Smith of 4062 Shenandoah Street in St. Louis (24th Ward) died on January 24, 1912, of diabetes.  She had gangrene of the feet.  Her death certificate states she was buried in New Picker Cemetery two days later.  New Picker Cemetery opened in 1862 and is located near the intersection of Hampton and Gravois Avenues in St. Louis.  It was named for Rev. Frederick Picker, who had founded Old Picker Cemetery in 1845.  New Picker Cemetery records made in 1997 do not list Julia Smith, although several other Smiths are named.
          What happened?  At some point after the William Price Cemetery records were made in 1941, Julia Smith’s headstone was somehow moved.  This would have taken at least two people, for the stone is quite heavy.  Perhaps the most likely scenario involves a group of young men from southern St. Charles County who have had too much to drink or accept a dare to steal a headstone.  The stone is transported to someone’s home and the next morning, after sobriety returns to clear their heads, the group decides to dump the stone in a nearby cemetery.
          More than likely this mystery will never be solved.  The Julia Smith headstone has carried its secret to its grave!