Elmwood’s History

Tracing Elmwood’s Roots

A Brief History

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Elmwood Cemetery opened in 1872 as a privately held cemetery, The Elmwood Cemetery Association. The land for Elmwood was taken from a portion of Judge Lucius Cary’s estate. The consecration for Elmwood occurred on September 8, 1872. In 1896 a group of Kansas City businessmen negotiated the purchase of Elmwood and created the not-for-profit Elmwood Cemetery Society. The new company was composed of men who were owners of lots in the cemetery including Kirkland B. Armour, S.B. Armour, A.R. Meyer, W.J. Smith and George H. Nettleton. Its beautifully landscaped grounds were designed by renowned architect George Kessler, the creator of Kansas City’s famed parks and boulevard system.

The First Burial

The first burial in Elmwood occurred that year when little 6-month-old Sallie Ayers died of “summer complaint.” Since then, Elmwood has been the final resting place of over 30,000 individuals: politicians, entertainers, lawyers, physicians, architects, engineers, the famous, the infamous and once-forgotten souls remembered only by their long-lost families and friends. Elmwood is a memorial to these Kansas Citians who, in their own unique ways, helped make this part of our world the heart of America.