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Restoration and Preservation of the Shirley Cemetery 

(Reprinted from Elmer Community History, 1976)

From September 6, until November, 1976, volunteer workers met each Saturday at the Shirley Cemetery, then a dense jungle, for work. The air was filled with the ring of an axe, the buzz of a chain saw, loud cries of "timber", and columns of smoke from brush fire. Beautiful weather seemed to favor the worker's endeavors, and the day became one to look forward to. Setting fence post was done in pioneer fashion. New faces appeared at each work day, and the project was accomplished before weather conditions broke. 

A Revolutionary War soldier of the Pulaski Legion, Cont'l Army, James Howell (1744-1844) is buried in the Shirley Cemetery. After his wife died in Kentucky in 1838, he came to Missouri. One of his daughters married George B. Cook and another married Moses Shirley. A land abstract shows that the Shirley Cemetery is located on the land originally owned by Cook and Shirley families.  Also, tombstones bear their names. The land tract was issued to Geo. W. Cook, in January 1840 from the U.S.A. In 1855, Abner Gilstrap became the owner.  He and his wife, the former Julia Ann Cook, sold the land to Carter Shirley (Mercyville's first postmaster). C. T. Carter then sold the land to Thomas Brown in 1870. Macon County Courthouse records show that in 1876, Thomas Brown deeded two acrea more or less for a Public Burial Ground.

A tombstone shows that the wife of Jas. W. Cook died in 1821 and another marker reveals the same date. A stone found beneath several inches of soil marked the grave of a son of G. A. and M. J. Shirley.

The Elmer community bicentennial project, the Restoration and preservation of the Shirley Cemetery, involved many people. Numerous communications from senior citizens expressed gratitude for the restoration of the cemetery where family memgbers and friends are buried. Hours of labor were spent by willing vounteers. Both food and money donations were generous. Organizations donated funds for the project, a church youth group, all local business firms, school children, ministers, and it is believed that perhaps every family in the community contributd something to the project. That the effort remains an ongoing one, plans are for regular upkeep in the future for the Shirley Cemetery.

The interments listed below were obtained from the Find a Grave website. You can visit this site and get information about interments in many US cemeteries. Information found there mayinclude parents, children, picture of the tombstone, obituary, pictures of the person and more. The number you see behind the names is a reference used by the site for quicker searches.


​Click here to see the interments located in the Shirley Cemetery.

(And a little info about Mercyville)