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Ceramic Gravestones in Missouri and Kansas

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A Look at Historical Ceramic and Pottery Grave Markers
Ceramic grave marker, headstone, or pottery tombstone in a simple straight upright style.

Ceramic headstone marker in a simple straight upright style. Note that the glaze is deliberately mimicking the look of granite.

Image Courtesy of Gary Conwell

Have you ever heard of grave markers made of pottery? Ceramic tombstones and memorials have been around for a long time. In the past, people who have been disallowed tombstones (such as slaves) have made pottery jugs, often with faces molded on the sides, to mark and protect their loved ones’ graves. In the 1800’s, the Grimsley family became a major supplier of ceramic grave markers in Oxford, England.

In west central Missouri and southeastern Kansas, Gary Conwell and a friend have discovered between 150 and 200 pottery tombstones and grave markers. The bulk of the ceramic markers they have found are dated from 1917 through 1919, with a handful dated 1916, 1920, 1923, and one in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery dated 1927.

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