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HILLSDALE, MO (KTVI) – Volunteers spent another Saturday morning hand-cutting the eight-foot brush covering the 141-year-old Greenwood Cemetery, the final resting place for thousands of African-American community leaders, statesmen, and military veterans.

Mother Nature and Father Time continued to battle over the 31-acre cemetery. Volunteer Cecelia Elliott recently learned she has several family members buried at Greenwood.

“I haven’t even gotten to where my family is yet.”

With only a rake as a weapon against tall weeds and dense brush, Elliott laughed off a warning from her dad.

“The next word would be ‘It’s crazy out there. I wouldn’t go out there to save my life.’”

Raphael Morris continued to look for the headstones of his family members. He had been fighting the overgrowth every weekend for three months. In the meantime, he is happy with meeting the Hodge family.

“A father, World War I; a son, World War II; and a son, Korean War — side by side. That was really an emotional discovery for all of us here.”

Kids also gave up their Saturday mornings for a lesson no one book could hold.

“You’ve got musicians, you’ve got statesmen, you’ve got soldiers, community leaders, you’ve got business people in here,” said United States Marine Corporal Jim Hubbard. “This is like a library. They all have a story to tell.”

Volunteers cleared five acres, but the work is still far from done. Patricia Bell pointed to a tree that grew around a headstone. You could see a piece of the concrete in a six-inch hole at the bottom. This was the resting place of a doctor.

“Look at the progress that’s been made so far,” Cpl. Hubbard looked around. “It just makes me want to keep coming back as often as I can.”

Elliott said this may be an African-American cemetery. But, the stories belonged to anyone looking to uncover the lessons waiting at Greenwood.

“It’s about history. If you love Missouri history or St. Louis history, you can be out here.”

The group has started a account to purchase tools and equipment. Volunteers also worked to start an endowment for future maintenance of the cemetery.  Learn more at and