In November of 2018, Susanne Paradis, Dorris Keeven-Franke, and Jerry Prouhet first beat a small pathway through dense brush and fallen trees to the Robbin’s family headstone in the middle of what locals refer to as Black Walnut Cemetery. The small one acre of land had been deeded for use as a graveyard in the 1820s on a part of the Robbins family’s property in what was then known as the Graveyard Slough. Over the years the Robbins family was joined by other families who were either laid to rest there because of their proximity, or family relation.
The summer of 2019 Black Walnut Cemetery saw a repeat of the flooding that had been seen in the years of 1844, 1871, and 1907 just to name a few. Not to be stopped by a pandemic though, work began in earnest in March of 2020. Paradis developed a huge network of Robbins family and local researchers who are helping dig through the records of the St. Charles County Historical Society and other archives. Meanwhile, Project Director Jerry Prouhet and a core group of about six volunteers have spent countless hours cutting, hauling and burning brush to clear the cemetery. They then began the even more difficult work of prodding every six inches of that one acre of ground. Not only have headstones been found that haven’t seen sunlight in years, but stones have been uncovered that no one even expected to be found based on earlier research.As each new discovery brings new excitement for the group, the history of the Black Walnut Cemetery grows and brings a sharper focus for the families that have called this community home for two centuries.
For those of you who love to hear the stories of St. Charles County’s history, and especially those who lived in the Black Walnut Community, we invite you to our first Black Walnut Day event! The family names below have been uncovered already. If you have questions or think you are related, we would love to hear from you! We would like to invite everyone to join us at the cemetery on Saturday, October 17, 2020, between 1pm and 4pm to hear the story of Black Walnut and meet all of the wonderful volunteers who have spent this year bringing this beautiful place back to life! Please wear a mask, observe social distancing or call Dorris Keeven-Franke at 636-221-1524 for more information.
To Contact Black Walnut Cemetery….
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Black Walnut Day