Drive west from Palmyra for 13 miles, to the town of Philadelphia, which is on State Highway 168. At Philadelphia take a turn north on State Route D, which you will follow for about 12 miles. There is a bend in the road here where you will find the graveyard of an old Baptist Church, call Mt. Pleasant. This is one of the most interesting gravestones in Missouri, and it is interesting on a number of levels.
There is an epitaph on this stone that reads: “This monument is dedicated to the memory of Hiram Smith. The hero that sleeps beneath the sod here who was shot at Palmyra Oct. 17, 1862 as a substitute for Wm. T. Humphrey my father.”
William T. Humphrey was a young man with a large family who was selected for execution by the authorities in Palmyra, and then was spared at the last minute for reasons that are unclear but that still automaty online stir controversy. We say the reasons are unclear, but Humphrey”s wife testified to a court martial in 1864 that the Union provost marshal in Palmyra demanded and received sexual favors in exchange for Humphrey”s release. This could be a fertile basis for discussion, if we keep the discussion civil.
The son who erected the stone for Hiram Smith was George W. Humphrey, who became a Missouri State Senator. Cynics might suggest that the stone was a political ad, but we don”t know when it was erected. Probably before Humphrey”s political career began and probably for purely sentimental reasons. George was not born when Hiram Smith was killed.
The date on the stone is wrong.