Rock Prairie’s 140-year-old chapel gets electrified

Steve Chapman

The chapel at Rock Prairie Cemetery now has electricity. (Photo by Steve Chapman)

This year, when the Rock Prairie Cemetery Association has its annual meeting on Saturday, May 28, the members will be able to employ a new amenity: electricity.
Roxie Sharpe, association secretary, said that, in March, electricity was installed at the 140-year-old chapel where they hold their meetings.
“We've been talking about it for years,” she said. “The Chapel sat empty for … 75 years and nobody used it. Well now … funeral expenses are so high, we saw people starting to inquire about using the chapel, and we had a few little … family things in the last couple of years, (so) we thought, ‘You know, we don't have running water or electricity. It's cold, it's hot … and it's a neat little place, so we thought if we could just afford electricity, (more people would want to use it).”
Sharpe said that after raising $12,000 in donations last year, a record breaking amount for the association (they normally raise $4,000 to $4,500), they decided it was time to have the electricity installed.
Now that the chapel has electricity, Sharpe said, there are more options available for those who want to use it.
“Now they can bring in fans and plug them in, or heaters and plug them in,” she said. “They can bring a slide show; they can bring music and instruments and microphones.”

Donations only
Additionally, Sharpe said, the association doesn’t charge a set fee for the use of the chapel; rather, they only ask those who use it for a funeral, family gathering, etc. to make a donation. Most people, she said, will give them about $100.
Despite the chapel now having electricity, Sharpe said, the association hasn’t seen a major uptick in the number of people using the chapel —yet.
“It's going to be a slow process,” she said, noting that they had a portion of the cemetery designated for cremated remains, but it was about 10 years before anyone bought a plot there.
“These things are gradual,” she said, “but you have to look 10, 20 or 50 years down the road when you're dealing with a cemetery.”

Bell search
Sharpe also mentioned that the association is looking to find a bell that used to be on top of the chapel when it originally served as a schoolhouse. It was auctioned off around 2008 by its then owner, Estelle Stewart.
“We were just hoping to figure out a way to try and reach out to the community and find out if someone knew anyone that had that bell or maybe a similar bell,” she said. We would really … like to get it back.”

More info
For more information, go online to the association’s website at or send an e-mail to


Lawrence County Record

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Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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