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New edition of Shady Grove book available now

The cover of the new edition of Dark Woods and Periwinkle is now available as an hardback, paperback and eBook on Amazon.com. Submitted graphic

A revised and expanded edition of Dark Woods and Periwinkle: A glance back at Shady Grove has been released, with the new edition available to order on Amazon.com.

From the 1890s to the 1960s, the name Shady Grove meant community to many Black families in Cape Girardeau County. Now the site of a cemetery, Shady Grove was previously a religious and educational center.

Dark Woods and Periwinkle details the family histories of those buried at Shady Grove Cemetery near Dutchtown.

The revised edition was completed by Marybeth Niederkorn, a local historian and the director of the Cape Girardeau County Archive Center in Jackson. The original book was coedited by Diana Craig Steele and the Southeast Missourian’s Sharon K. Sanders in 1998.

The book includes photographs of the cemetery located at 502 County Road 211, artifacts and some people connected to the historic site.

New to the 2024 edition are additional interviews and obituaries, a chapter on the military service of Civil War soldier Washington “Wash” Giboney, school records and more.

“We have interviews with some of the people who were buried there and some of their descendants,” Niederkorn said. “It’s a really comprehensive attempt at capturing some of the history around this cemetery which is very significant.”

The book is published by the Cape Girardeau County Genealogical Society, which is currently working on republishing its back catalog of publications – both through Amazon for books focused on regional or local interest and via Southern Historical Press for general-interest books.

“This is the first of several of our publications that we are going to be putting up on Amazon for sale, but that’s going to take a long time,” Niederkorn said.

Shady Grove Cemetery has seen several developments in recent years, most notably that it now has official trustees for the first time in nearly 100 years.

Cape Girardeau County Recorder Drew Blattner discovered the cemetery’s original deed from 1891, naming three trustees, all of whom had presumably died by the 1930s. After an exhaustive search, Niederkorn could find no evidence of successor trustees being named.

Descendants of those buried at Shady Grove worked together to organize a group, the Shady Grove Heritage and Preservation Organization (SGHAPO), which in 2021 hired historian Bob Blythe to apply for the cemetery to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The site was officially placed on the National Register in 2022.

The group petitioned the Cape Girardeau County Circuit Court for legal trusteeship over the cemetery, and that request was granted in 2024. Niederkorn provided an affidavit in support of this petition.

In early 2024, SGHAPO leadership contacted Niederkorn about ordering several copies of Dark Woods and Periwinkle ahead of a reunion to be held in Cape Girardeau the weekend before Juneteenth.

Niederkorn, who is an officer for the Cape Girardeau County Genealogical Society, met with the other members of the society’s book committee and determined that, rather than ordering more copies of the old edition, she would revise and update the book and make it available through Amazon, for ease of distribution and quality of production.

Niederkorn enlisted the help of researcher Nancy Ayres to track down updated information for the cemetery census, or list of people buried there and their family members. Ayres reviewed death certificates on the Missouri Secretary of State’s Local Records program’s Digital Heritage website, and used various other online resources unavailable in 1998. She was able to expand the census with several pages’ worth of new information on birth and death dates and family members of the deceased.

Researcher and Southeast Missourian columnist Denise Lincoln contributed a narrative chapter on the military service of Washington “Wash” Giboney, who served in the Civil War. The chapter includes details about Giboney’s military service, as well as other biographical information.

Shady Grove also had a one-room school up until the 1920s, and some artifacts from that school are housed at the Cape Girardeau County History Center at 102 S. High Street in Jackson. Director Carla Jordan and Alice Ireland assisted Niederkorn in getting photographs of those artifacts, including the door from the schoolhouse, included in the book.

Niederkorn also added several photos from the Archive Center’s cemetery survey conducted in 2012 and a few family photos from descendants of those buried at Shady Grove.

Niederkorn thanks Southeast Missourian Publisher Jon K. Rust for allowing more than 100 obituaries of those buried at Shady Grove to be included – along with some obituaries gathered from the Sparks Funeral Home records at Williams Funeral Home in Charleston, Missouri. Sparks Funeral Home was the Black Funeral Parlor in Cape Girardeau in the mid-20th century.

The 2024 edition of Dark Woods and Periwinkle: A glance back at Shady Grove is available in hardcover, paperback and eBook on Amazon.com.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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