History

Rock Prairie Cemetery near Halltown, Missouri, is the largest cemetery in Ozark Township and has been used as a cemetery since 1838. The land was homesteaded by James N. Downing, Jr., (1801-1851) who came here in about 1833. The old cemetery contained 1-1/2 acres donated to the cemetery association by J. N. Downing. The earliest known burial is that of Sarah (Walker) Carlisle, a Cherokee Indian (Sept. 22, 1777 - Sept. 15, 1845) and mother of James Downing's second wife, Mary "Polly" (Carlisle) Bell.

The property was deeded to "Lawrence County as a corporate body for the benefit and use of the surrounding neighborhood" by James Downing's son, James N. Downing and wife, Sarah Z. (Nickel) Downing, on January 28, 1888 (Deed Book 46, Page 84). It was described as one acre and one-half located and described as follows: Commencing at the south east corner of Sec. 26, Township 27 north, Range 25 west, thence north fifteen rods and eight feet, thence west fifteen rods and eight feet, thence fifteen rods and eight feet, thence east to the place of the beginning.

James Downing (April 5, 1801 - April 5, 1851) is not buried here. He died on his 50th birthday on his way home by boat from California and was buried at sea. His wife, Mary "Polly" (Carlisle) Bell (September 22, 1802 - January 1, 1897) died at age 94 and is buried here. George Hall, from whom the town received its name, is buried here.

On November 11, 1899, G. J. McCoy donated one-half acre on the north side of the cemetery to the association and a strip of half lots on the west side.

In 1919, a new addition was purchased from J. N. Downing for $200, which extended the East section line nine feet and North to the creek. Mr. Downing gave the remaining land north of the cemetery to the creek bordering the gravel road.

On May 30, 1927, Stewart Chapel was bought and moved to the cemetery. In 1935, the J. N. Downing heirs donated a strip of land on the east side of the cemetery extending to the public road.

On October 29, 1941, Mr. And Mrs. Hershall Garroutte gave a strip of land fifteen feet wide on the north, west, and south for a driveway around the cemetery. In May of 1953, Mr. And Mrs. John A. Stewart gave a strip of land on the south side sixteen and one-half by three hundred twenty feet, to complete the road around the cemetery.

In September of 2009, R. C. and Pat Downing donated a 125-foot wide strip of land to Rock Prairie Cemetery directly east of the cemetery and south of I-44 running east and west and located in the southwest quarter of Section 25, Township 29, Range 25, Lawrence County, Missouri. This strip is to be used for cremated remains only.