Mt Zion Church & Cemetery, Boone County, Missouri

Mt Zion Church and Cemetery

Mt Zion Church and Cemetery, Hallsville, Boone County, Missouri Listed on the National Register of Historic Places January, 2013

 This Web site has been started by the Mt. Zion Cemetery Association for the purpose of history and the help of those seeking genealogical information.  The board members of the Association are Floyd Durk, President,(573-696-3619), Dorothy McKenzie, Vice President, Bonnie Durk, Secretary / Treasurer,  Mary Russell, Merlin Schnell, James Durk, and Dean Burnett.  The Boards hope is that more will come to see the beauty and history  of Mt. Zion Church and  Cemetery which is located at 11700 E Mt. Zion Road,  Hallsville, Boone County, Missouri.

 The story of Mt Zion Church begins about 3 miles southwest of the present church location.  The earliest settlers to Boone County gathered to worship at a camp meeting grounds that would become Mt. Moriah. (Switzler p 790).  The founding denomination of Mt Moriah was Cumberland Presbyterian.  They shared their meeting place with the Methodist until the Methodist left in 1843 to form their own church, Mt. Zion.

 In 1843 the Methodist left Mount Moriah to build their church on land donated by Thomas and Suzan (Fulkerson) Flynt, three miles northeast.  The site they selected is reported to be the highest point in Boone County, 940 feet. There are no details of the appearance or the dimensions of the original building but the carpenter was said to have been Wilson Grady.     Oak, hickory, ash and pine trees covered the area and still do. Many cedars were used as grave markers and there was a very tall pine, which was a prominent landmark for many years.  A piece of the stump of that pine is located in the church vestibule.  It was later described as “the most pleasant place in the whole county”. Thomas Flynt dictated the name for the church  to be Mt. Zion.  The lumber for the first building was cut by the first sawmill ever to saw lumber in the area.  Some of the original Members were: John Reed, Sr., Joseph Points, Wilson Grady, Thomas Flynt, Edith Younger, R.A. Younger, and A.J. Younger.  

 Mt. Zion Methodist Episcopal Church congregation shared their building with the Baptist until Grandview Baptist Church was built near Murry on the edge of the Great Prairie, otherwise known as Two Mile Prairie, in 1874.

 The Civil War battle at Mt Zion occurred in the vicinity of Mt Zion Church on December 28, 1861.  It began early in the morning while Confederate officers were having breakfast with the William P Robinson family, who lived near the church.

 Confederate soldiers numbered with 350 (by their account, mostly recent recruits, inexperienced and not all armed) or 900 (by  Union estimate) under command of Col. Caleb Dorsey; A combined force of 470 Union cavalry and infantry commanded by Gen. Benjamin M. Prentiss.

 Sever dead soldiers left behind at Mt. Zion had to be buried immediately though there was identification for only one.  It was somehow known, perhaps because he lived long enough to tell them, that one was named Brandenburg.  Mrs Arthusa Turner, in feelings of grief for the nameless boys, some of whom, for all she knew, might have been from her native area, brought her finest linen tablecloth to the cemetery and spread it over the bodies in their common grave.  The site is now marked with a marker.

 September  22, 1863 drama came and the church was not spared.  Soldiers of Iowa’s Third Cavalry, commanded by Lt. Hartman, were ordered to burn it, saying “because if is no longer a church, but a nest for bushwackers”.  The story goes that even as the flames began, a young soldier walked into the church and came out with the alter Bible, which he reverently placed on a large stump at a safe distance from the building.

In 1867 the church was rebuild but was torn down due to disrepair and rebuilt in 1903.  That building still stand today.  It was a 36’ x 60’ building with an arched ceiling covered with oak with a dark stain.  It was called “ceiling” at that time and is now coveted where found in older homes.   The church as arched windows, each with frosted panes below and above, edged with stained glass in vari-colored rectangles.   Simple white globes suspended from the ceiling provide soft light reminiscent of the original gas lamps.

 The five acre Cemetery at Mt. Zion contains more than 800 graves, some unmarked, but all listed in cemetery records and  findable on the Cemetery Association’s plats.  The Cemetery Association was formed in 1907.   That association continues to care for and maintain the Cemetery today through donations.  Extensive work has been done this year by the Association to record history from all the stones in the Cemetery such as birth and death dates and as many relationships as possible.   We hope this will be helpful for those looking for relatives gravesites.

There is a  mystery grave in the Cemetery.  During the post-war years, while outlaws ran amuck, a new grave was discovered in the morning at Mt. Zion.  Nobody made arrangements to have a grave  opened or to bring a body there after a service elsewhere.  Then the report came of a party of heavily armed men seen in the churchyard very late, digging by lantern light.  In 1927, the story says, a Flynt family member doing a cemetery census wrote to ask Frank James if he knew anything about it.  The celebrated outlaw replied that the unfortunate was named Richard Kenny or Kearney and had fought under George Todd at the Centralia Massacre.  James’ letter was in the belongings of Mabel Cavins, a descendant of the person who received it, was sold at auction.  Its location is unknown. We have located a copy of the letter and after proving that it was Kenny in the grave, the Sons of Confederate  placed a tomb stone to honor Richard Kenny in Sept 2013. 

This history was compiles using  written documents by Joan Gilbert, Bobby Bedsworth, William F Switzler, History of Boone County, The Hallsville Top, Lillian Ridgway and Genealigican information written by the Flynt Family members.