As gravestones at Pioneer Smith Cemetery have been uncovered from tall grass and climbing moss in the past few months, something else has been revealed — Mokane's history and its residents' passion to preserve it.
What began as an Eagle Scout project has unearthed new goals for the city. In July, South Callaway High School senior August Cross organized a cleanup of the cemetery. Volunteers showed up over two weekends and cleared away brush, revealing headstones — even a few that had been unseen before.
Since then, the cemetery located behind Mokane Christian Church has been a topic of Mokane Board of Aldermen meetings.
At the board's last meeting, aldermen discussed how the project will move forward. Mayor Pro-Tem Chad Booher said he has talked to people who have restored cemeteries and has gotten a few ideas — one being a committee to oversee the project.
The committee would take donations to help with projects, restore headstones, map and identify families in the cemetery, and eventually share that information — not just locally, but nationally.
"We have actually had people who have family members in that cemetery who have called and approached and want to see it kept up," Booher said. "(Mokane) has many historical sites; it's hard to know about that if you don't live here."
Leslie Cross, August's mother, has voiced interest in being part of the committee, and the city will offer its support in the process.
"We want to stay an integral part as background support so they don't feel stuck," Booher said.
Since the project started, folks have expressed interest in finding their family members. Booher hopes registering the cemetery as a historical site will get the word out and allow more people to visit family gravesites.
"It's been around basically since the town was founded," Booher said. "A lot of people like to come to visit cemeteries, and it would be an opportunity to visit Mokane."
Booher has talked to staff at the Kingdom of Callaway Historical Society, who gave him information on getting the cemetery recognized on state and federal registers, and plans to move forward with that process.
In other news, the city is replacing, updating and restoring signs in Mokane, including "no parking" and stop signs. They approved bills and reviewed the FEMA update in Monday's virtual Board of Aldermen meeting via Zoom, and will continue through the remaining topics during the second half of the meeting, scheduled 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12. The link to the virtual meeting will be posted on the city's Facebook page and can be shared by request.