EASTON, Missouri — The recipe for a haunted cemetery is relatively easy; the ground needs to be neglected for a number of years, and then the area’s youth can sponsor the reputation.
The Old Kessler Cemetery in Easton, Missouri, was the perfect candidate to gain haunted status, and it likely would have if it hadn’t been for caring members of the community.
Michael Fisher and Mary Bray have organized some of the clean up efforts, which in November brought in around 30 volunteers, many of them younger, to help pick things up.
“We were on our hands and knees, clipping twigs and packing brush from the cemetery,” Fisher said.
The road to the cemetery doesn’t exist anymore, so getting there means you have to know someone to tell you directions, and even then there’s a quarter-mile walk across a field.
But once there it’s easy to see why the mainly German descendants chose it as their final resting place. The area is quiet and besides the nested hawk above the grounds, there isn’t much coming and going.
The 73 grave plots are connected and surrounded by lilies, which may be true to the original design of the private Catholic cemetery.
“It’s what’s choking out any woody stem stuff that is trying to get through,” Fisher said. “So we thought, well, let’s let’s embrace that, protect it.”
The lifespan of the cemetery began with the first burial in 1849 of Joseph Wiedmaier. The last funeral took place in 1923, which is also around the time the road to it was abandoned and forgotten.
If hadn’t been for the curiosity of Tim Wiedmaier — the great, great, great grandson of Joseph Wiedmaier — the graveyard would still be a mysterious place, waiting to become haunted.
“And I walked right by this, because it was so overgrown and brush ... and I walked down past it again,” Wiedmaier said. “And the third time was the very first tombstone that I seen.”
Wiedmaier has compiled the information from the graves and cross-referenced it with public records to create a book about the cemetery. This includes information on Joseph Kendziora, the blacksmith who died at 65, and Dan’l Kessler who was a private in the Union Army during the Civil War.
Kessler was one of three that fought in the war.
“One of them, in particular, was captured by the Confederates,” Wiedmaier said. “And he escaped and rejoined his Union forces a couple months later.”
The most alarming of the statistics was the youth burial rate. Twenty-five percent of the cemetery were under the age of 18.
“That’s kind of an eye opener,” Fisher said.
The Old Kessler Cemetery has raised $2,000 towards their goal of $9,000 to restore some of the tombstones that have fallen over. Those interested in donating money or their time can reach out to the group at their facebook page, facebook.com/KesslerCemeteryEastonMissouri.