Jesuits established a mission in Florissant around 1763. Sometime before 1792 missionary priests built the original log Catholic Church in the old burial ground, not far from the present St. Ferdinand's Catholic Church. The original site is now known as the Spanish Land Grant Park and has recently been the site of excavations by professional archaeologists. Missionary priests, including Benedictines and Trappists, served the parish, and they named the church St. Ferdinand's in honor of the King of Spain, who had expelled the Moors from that country.
In 1820, because of a dispute with the parish trustees, Father Joseph Dunard, the Trappist priest, returned to France, and Bishop DuBourg sent Father Charles Delacroix to Florissant. Instead of contending with the rebellious trustees, Father Delacroix built a new church, the present, brick St. Ferdinand's church, completed in 1821, and he added more property to the cemetery until it encompassed the entire block. Father Delacroix required all those seeking interment rights in the cemetery to build and maintain twenty feet of the split rail fence surrounding the cemetery.
In 1823 Bishop DuBourg invited Jesuit fathers to re-establish the Indian mission at Florissant and take charge of the parish. Father Charles Van Quickenborne, head of the Jesuit missionary, became the parish priest. The majority of the original Jesuit novices were from Belgium, and several, who preached at St. Ferdinand's Church, rose to great distinction. Father Judocus Van Assche, "Le Bon Pere Van Assche," served as pastor of St. Ferdinand parish for fifty years beginning in 1832, and Fathers Pierre DeSmet and F. L. Verreydt, were both great Indian missionaries.
By 1874 St. Ferdinand's Cemetery was full. The Parish Council acquired 35 acres on Coldwater Creek, a mile south of the village, where they laid out New St. Ferdinand's Cemetery. In 1876 the old cemetery was closed to burials and removals to the new cemetery began. For many years there was no public road to the new cemetery. Funerals came down Graham Road where they crossed a farm to enter the cemetery. In 1900 a 33-foot strip was deeded to the Archdiocese, the access road named Christian Brothers Lane, later Father Manion Street, and now known as Manion Park Road.
St. Ferdinand Cemetery is still active today, offering both monument lots and lawn level marker lots. Contact the cemetery office, 314.792.7738 or email your request for more detailed information.