A Veterans Salute

Thank you for your service Stephen Hempstead

Stephen Hempstead, a Revolutionary War veteran and sturdy Presbyterian who moved to St. Louis in 1811 to be near his son, Edward Hempstead, was one of the town’s original elected trustees. “The former Hempstead family burial ground is in the oldest section of Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum. The Hempstead farm would make up the original acreage of the cemetery. Stephen Hempstead, the father of the family, was a veteran of the Revolutionary War, having served in Nathan Hale’s regiment” according to Bellefontaine.  

Born May 6, 1754 in New London, Connecticut, he joined America’s Revolutionary Army on May 6, 1775, at the outbreak of war. He would serve until the Battle of Fort Griswold in 1781. According to family legend, he heard the first reading of the Declaration of Independence. The family would move to St. Louis, Missouri, in June 1811. The elder Hempstead was dismayed by the lack of religion in St. Louis and led the drive to establish the First Presbyterian Church of St. Louis, where he was one of the church’s first Elders. 

Stephen Hempstead was buried on the family farm on October 9, 1831. During the 1840s St. Louis businessmen would create the first Rural Cemetery modeled after Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and Green-Wood Cemetery in New York, New York. The group would incorporate in 1849, and hold its’ dedication of the cemetery on May 1st, 1850. A portion of the former Hempstead farm was purchased to begin Bellefontaine Cemetery, which included the family cemetery, making Stephen Hempstead the earliest of the cemetery’s burials.

Hempstead family graveyard in Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum in St. Louis, MO

See Bellefontaine Cemetery and Arboretum https://bellefontainecemetery.org/

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