Oakwood Cemetery

335 Margin Street

There is little history written about Oakwood Cemetery due to a fire at the courthouse records room which held a vast majority of the written history of Brownsville so it is unclear as to how the cemetery got its name.  Most of the existing history is told through its monuments. What is known is that Oakwood Cemetery is the main city cemetery and has several burial plots for many of Brownsville’s settlers and prominent families. Joseph Wingate Folk is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

Folk grew up in Brownsville and went on to serve as Governor of Missouri from 1905-1909. Many  of  the  headstones  have  burial  dates  beginning  in  the  mid-1840s.  The  cemetery  lot  lines  were  expanded to what they are today in 1880.  Several small children are buried here as well as many of the  victims  of  the  Yellow  Fever  Epidemic  of  1878.  It  is  recorded  that  several  victims  of  the  epidemic  were buried in an unmarked mass grave due to the limited workforce to bury each victim individually.

The property was maintained by the Oakwood Cemetery Association from 1909 to 1925; an association which  members  could  receive  plots  and  maintain  the  grounds.  Eventually  maintenance  was  taken  over by the City of Brownsville. There are several cemetery themes displayed on headstones throughout the cemetery. These symbols include:  the  lamb  under  the  weeping  willow,  clasped  hands,  various  lilies,  the  broken  branch,  the  arch, the angel, the dove, drapery, hands reaching, the obelisk and the urn. Several headstones have affiliation markings such as the Star of David for Jewish affiliation and the square and compass signifying affiliation with the Freemasons.

Another very common headstone design seen throughout Oakwood Cemetery are those with affiliation to the Woodmen of the World (WOW). WOW is a fraternal benefit society that was founded in 1890 and often operated in secrecy.  A benefit to being a member of this club was the organizations funding and creation of distinct headstones for deceased members. This program became too costly and was  discontinued  in  the  1920s.  The  tree  stump  is  a  dominate  theme  in  Woodmen  of  the  World  headstones. Symbols used in conjunction with the tree stump consist of: axes, leaves, stones and scrolls all with the WOW logo placed at the top.”