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Elmer, Missouri - Early History
(Taken from the Elmer Centennial Book)
The Bunce Cemetery, located two miles west of Elmer, had been used as a final resting place for well over a hundred years serving the local community and their families. Several tombstones are dated in the 1860's and 1870's, however it is believed some of the earliest graves go back to the 1840's.
On the 11th day of March 1879 Lewis Keyte and Elizabeth, his wife deeded one acre of land to the trustees and their successors. August 6, 1906 a new deed was made to correct an error in the original. We do not know what the error was. It was also between Lewis and Elizabeth Keyte and trustees who were W.A, Koger, W.B. Redman and David Williams at that time. (Lewis Keyte was Ted Koger’s grandfather and W.A. Koger his father). Lewis Keyte passed away in a907.
A name was needed for the new cemetery. Nathaniel Bunce lived where Gregory Gunnels now lives, about one-half mile south of the cemetery. The Bunce school district was already formed. It was decided to call it Bunce Cemetery.
Nearly everyone associated with the cemetery has contributed to the upkeep and maintenance of the cemetery, both financially and labor, including such things as leveling graves, building fences, trimming trees, etc.
I will mention some board members but I am sure there are others I don’t know about. Charley Bailey, Hillman Seaman, and Ted Koger with Oletha Jacobs as secretary served for many years. The road through the cemetery and the fence along the front of the cemetery, built around 1950, were made during this time. Freda Jones was secretary for many years, deciding to retire from it in 1986. Other board members included Kenneth Burns, Harold Howe, Kenneth Jones, and R.H. Seaman who received $1655.00 in 1957 to start a perpetual fund for the upkeep of the cemetery. The fund has since grown but so has inflation, consequently we still depend on private donations each year to a large extent. A Memorial Day dinner is held each year at the Elmer School in conjunction with the Elmer Cemetery. Some 25-30 letters are also sent out.
Board members at this time are Herman Koger, Kenneth Burns, Gregory Gunnels, and Bill Howe is the secretary.
Until recent years whenever a grave was needed it was dug by hand, friends and neighbors showing up to do it. Now nearly all are with a backhoe. Colleen Hawkins, the current caretaker, mows the cemetery several times a year. When I was younger the cemetery was scythed off once a year, raked and hauled away. Several people would mow and maintain their individual family plots.
In 1973 the gateway at the cemetery entrance was erected in memory of Steven Burns by Kenneth and Venita Burns. They also paid for the fencing material on the south side in 1982 and for straightening of the tombstones in 1986. In 1983 Edwin, Stephen, and Gregory Gunnels donated 30 feet along the entire west end to enlarge the cemetery. New fence on the west and north side was put in at that time with special donations.
The Bunce Cemetery is the final resting place for three and four generations, as well as sons and daughters, for several families in our area. It is our hope it will be maintained and cared for many generations to come.
By Bill Howe, 1987
The cemetery is still well maintained. David and Wanda St Clair were caretakers for several years and Sue Easley Wynne is the current caretaker. We still depend greatly on donations for upkeep. The current board members are Leon Mott, Glenn Howe, Gregory Gunnels, and Merrill Magers. Monell Koger is the secretary-treasurer. Graves are once again dug mainly by hand with Bill Herrin being the grave digger. The cemetery was plotted in 1992 by Alvina Howe and Monell Koger.
By Monell Koger
Click here to see interments in the Bunce Cemetery.
Click here to see some obituaries for those intered in Bunce Cemetery.