The Columbia City Cemetery is the oldest and longest running business in Columbia. Burials began as early as 1821. The original entrance to the cemetery was actually on the east side where Locust Street becomes the entrance of Lucky’s Market. You will notice that most of the stones face the east. It was much later that the current entrance on the north side — off Broadway — became the main entrance. The cemetery’s original gates were removed and placed at the entrance of what is now the Maplewood Home in Nifong Park.
History Comes Alive is put on by the Historic Columbia Cemetery group, and is in its second year. In our previous posts, six notables were featured: Victor Barth, James L. Stephens, Odon Guitar, R. B. Price, Henry James Jesse and John Lange, Sr. Our final notable will be Mary Paxton Keeley.
Mary Paxton Keeley is known for being the first woman to obtain a journalism degree from the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. The Journalism School began in 1908, and she graduated from it in 1910. Born in Independence, Missouri in 1886, she attended two other colleges before arriving in Columbia in 1908. After graduation she had a job as a reporter in Kansas City. She later went to work for the YMCA in France to help with World War I. After the war, she married Edmund Keeley. They were the parents of one son, John. Edmund died in 1928, and Mary moved from Atchison County, Missouri to Columbia to teach and obtain a Masters in Journalism. She later began to teach Journalism and creative writing at what is now Columbia College. She co-founded the Columbia Art League, and was a friend to many of her former students. After her death an elementary school in Columbia was named after her. Mrs. Keeley died at the age of 100 in 1986 in Columbia.
If you want to learn about some of the interesting people who have lived and died in Columbia, mark your calendar for Monday, May 28 for a walking tour to see performers bring their stories alive! Be sure to get there early and dress for the weather conditions. Parking will be available in all three of the Columbia Public Library’s lots as well as the Re/Max Realty lot across the street. The festivities will begin promptly at 1 p.m.
Through this series you’ve gotten a sneak peek into the lives of these historically important people, but you will learn so much more by attending in person. If you love history, you will NOT be disappointed.