By 1880, Black Americans comprised more than half of the population of Arrow Rock, Missouri. Many of these formerly enslaved individuals provided labor to build many structures in the town and to cultivate hemp and tobacco, labor-intensive crops grown in this area before the Civil War.
In 1856, Dr. John Sappington, a prominent Saline County physician, set aside land for a cemetery specifically for his enslaved people. Any burials before 1865 were unmarked, so most of the 350 burials in this cemetery are unknown. After emancipation, this cemetery was used for generations of Black Americans with links to the Arrow Rock community, with the last burial happening as recently as 2012.
This cemetery stands as a reminder of the Black culture and contribution to this area. Interpretive panels at the site provide information on the sacrifice and resiliency of individuals who made an impact on the history of this little town, and in the state of Missouri. Their contributions will not be forgotten.