Travel: If in St. Louis be sure to see the new Dred Scott monument at Calvary Cemetery

By Sally Tippett Rains

The Dred Scott Heritage Foundation (DSHF) dedicated a new gravesite memorial monument in memory of Dred Scott in Calvary Cemetery, this week.

It was a picturesque, beautiful sunshine-filled morning where everything was right, and the most important aspect of the day was that the ceremony righted something that had been very wrong in the past.

Dred Scott, most will remember was the slave who sued for his freedom ;and school children in St. Louis are always interested to find out the decision was handed down on the steps of the Old Courthouse in downtown. Many a St. Louis school child has taken a field trip to the Old Courthouse and been told that “the Dred Scott decision” was handed down on the steps of the courthouse, but not until recently was there really anywhere that people could go to learn about him and honor him. Not until Lynne Madison Jackson got involved.

Now there are two memorials — in two different areas of St. Louis– to visit to remember this piece of history.

The monument dedication ceremony began some words from the Rev. Nicholas Inman of Marshfield, Missouri who is a board member for the Dredd Scott Foundation, giving an invocation. He is shown in the photo, left with Lynne Madison Jackson. Jackson has been involved in the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield for years and has brought the history of Dredd Scott to that venue.

“I read an article where she was mentioned and I called her at work,” said Inman, who is the founder and president of the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield. “She attended the festival to accept a star on the walk of fame for Dred Scott.”

Rev. Inman offered a prayer to get the ceremony underway.

The magnificent monument was the culmination of hard work by Jackson, the President & Founder of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation, and her team which includes her daughter, Sherry, who along with other family members was at the dedication.

For being such a noteworthy historic figure, the previous grave of Dred Scott  was simple, but it was interesting to find out that it was purchased by descendants of the Blow family—the family who “owned” him and then later helped him get his freedom. Before the Blow family got involved it was a fairly hidden grave that no one really knew was there.

“Dred Scott was an enslaved man of  ‘100 percent pure’ African descent,” says the website says. “Dred’s case was predicated on the fact that he was taken by his master, an officer in the U.S. Army, from the slave state of Missouri to the free state of Illinois and then to the free territory of Wisconsin. He lived on free soil for a long period of time.”

More from the DredScottLives website, which was set up by Jackson and her Foundation: “He moved with his master to Huntsville, Alabama and later to St. Louis, Missouri. In 1831 his owner, Peter Blow, died and John Emerson, a surgeon in the U.S. Army, bought him. He accompanied his new master to Illinois (a free state) and Wisconsin (a territory). While in what is now Minnesota, around 1836 he met and married Harriett Robinson. In 1843 Emerson died and left his estate to his widow Irene Emerson, who refused Scott’s demand for his freedom. He then obtained the assistance of two attorneys who helped him to sue for his freedom in court.”

On that unseasonably warm Fall day in 2023,  as Jackson proudly looked out on the crowd, she remembered when she first found out about where Dred Scott was buried.

As she and her family, including daughter Sherry, shown  second from left in family photo, were there for the dedication, she remembered her parents and siblings.

As a child, Lynne knew of her heritage, but probably did not realize the entire significance.. Her father, John A. Madison, Jr. was a great-grandson of Dred Scott.  He was the sixth child born to John Alexander Madison, Sr. (Dred Scott’s grandson) and Grace Cross Madison.  John Madison received his JD from Lincoln Law School in Jefferson City and his B.S in Education from Harris Stowe College (now HSSU). That is a far cry from his famous ancestor who had been an enslaved person.

Jackson’s mother, John’s wife, Marsulite Charleston Madison  graduated from nursing school and practiced as an LPN and later graduated from Forest Park Community College with her RN (Registered Nurse). “Marcy” as she was called, was the first black head nurse at Incarnate Word Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri.

The Madisons were well known and much loved in their church and community. Their four children, three still living, Lynne, (co-founder of DSHF), John III (d. In 2002), Marsulite and Michael, along with many cousins, enjoy the memory of their parents and co-founders of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation, begun in 2006.

In 1957 on Ashland Street in the Ville area of St. Louis  five-year-old Lynne Madison answered the door, and to her surprise, it wasn’t a neighbor friend ready to play, it was a catholic priest. Turns out he had information for them; he had found her great-grandfather’s grave.

Once the family heard his amazing story from the priest, they took a picture with him, which is still in the family. They all went to see the grave for the first time– a barely noticeable small marker for one of the most famous people ever from St. Louis. The world would know him as Dredd Scott, but to them it was their ancestor who had lived in the 1800’s and it was amazing to see the grave.

Years later Jackson, her parents and family would start the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation and bring both Dred and his wife Harriet’s memory back to life, eventually with both a statue at the Old Courthouse and the this new gravestone– which is a large monument in an easy-to-see part of Calvary Cemetery.

The famous sculptor, Harry Weber was on hand to celebrate the dedication of the new gravesite. Weber was the artist chosen to sculpt the statue of Dred and Harriet Scott at the Old Courthouse in Downtown, St. Louis.

Jackson and Weber are shown in the photo, right.

Sports fans in St. Louis recognize the name Harry Weber as he is the sculptor the Cardinals used to make the statues at Busch Stadium.The same person who sculpted the great Stan Musial also sculpted two former enslaved people– and both statues are of people who made a huge impact on St. Louis and many others.

Jackson spearheaded the drive to move Dred Scott’s grave to a more prominent place in Calvary Cemetery and get a historical marker so people interested in visiting his grave will be able to. Many famous people are buried in Calvary Cemetery and it is often a tourist destination, but even though Scott was resting on the grounds, no one knew it.

“We raised money to fix Dred Scott’s gravesite,” said Jackson. “It was  a modest, hard to find, and non-descript gravesite. I envision it to be a destination where tourists or St. Louisans can come and learn the real history behind Dred and Harriet Scott.”

Now there is a monument on a hill where as per Jackson’s vision, people can come, sit down, and in a peaceful spot, contemplate all that has happened in history due to Dred Scott’s life.

In thanking those who were in attendance, Jackson introduced the newest member of the descendants of Dred Scott, who appeared to be a couple months old, pointing out the legacy continues. The baby in the stroller (in the photo, left)  who will probably be told later in life what happened, was seated in a place of honor in the front row. Jackson and her family have come so far in the quest to preserve the history.

In 2010,  Weber was commissioned to create the first statue of Dred and Harriet Scott in the world. It took two years for them to raise the money but on June 8, 2012 it was dedicated. That day, the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation, the National Parks Service,  and Weber unveiled the statue on the south lawn of the Old Courthouse in downtown St. Louis. The Scotts are depicted standing close, holding their heads high, their eyes directed not only Arch-ward and across the Mississippi River, but toward a horizon of freedom in which they believed enough to one day finally see. Now when the school children—or anyone else visit the Old Courthouse they see an exhibit inside along with the statue.

After visiting the Old Courthouse statue and learning more about Scott’s life, tourists can head over to Calvary Cemetery to see the monument.

What is next for Lynne Jackson and the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation? They hope to get a postage stamp in his honor.

She is so driven with ideas on how to bring the story of Dred Scott to school children and everyone interested in history that she sometimes has several projects going at once. She is working to get the USPS to do a commemorative stamp. She hopes to get enough names on a petition to do this. To sign the petition CLICK HERE.


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