Pierce St. John was born in 1875 and he died Aug.18, 1927. He was an Originally Allotted Osage and his allotted land is south of Pawhuska on Highway 99.
There were 159 Osages who voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Army during World War I. At that time Osages were not citizens of the United States and were, therefore, not eligible for the draft. Still, they performed the duty of protecting their families.
World War I came to an end on Nov. 11, 1919.
In 1924, five years following the end of the war, and three years before his death, the elder St. John transferred a title of one acre of his allotted land to the United States Government so that veterans of any tribe would always have a place to be buried. It was understood that St. John family members and friends of the family would also have a final resting place in the cemetery.
The price of the single acre of land was $1, paid to the United States Government. Clearly, the land was a gift from the elder Pierce St. John to Veterans of the United States, with title held by the United States.
Pierce St. John had a grandson who was also named Pierce St. John. Maintaining the cemetery and the Native American Church were two of the responsibilities he assumed.
The grandson Pierce inherited his grandfather’s home a few miles south of Pawhuska. The St. John Family Cemetery is located there. He also inherited the St. John Native American Church that burned several years ago.
Over the years, several relatives and members of the Tribe assumed the responsibility of maintenance of the Cemetery.
During the past several years there have been individuals who took on that job because it is a worthy project.
Each year visitors from far away places visit the cemetery. The visitors represent many different ethnic and racial backgrounds, including many who are Osage and other tribes.
The final resting place of the 52 individuals buried there is protected with a chain link fence. In the center of the cemetery, and facing east, stands a 15-foot high marble statue of a World War I Doughboy.
The Doughboy faces the pole that holds the American flag.
The Pierce St. John Cemetery as it exists today does not take up the full one acre of land, and only a few burial spaces remain. The St. John Family hopes to expand the cemetery so that the Cemetery will cover the entire one-acre of land as originally intended.
On Memorial Day, veterans of the American Legion Post 198 Color Guard raise the flag of the United States, paying tribute to veterans who are buried there, and to veterans everywhere.
Singers begin singing a veterans’ song to the beat of a drum, and then at the command of the Commander-in-charge, the Color Guard that is made up of Veterans, fire their rifles.
The drum, the singing, the voice of the Commander and the report of rifles create an emotion that makes it a special moment.
At that special moment thoughts and memories of those heroes and patriots return to fill those in attendance with pride and a gratitude. Those images may go back two, or three, even four generations. Often, those in attendance know of those veterans only through an oral history, but somehow, those thoughts remain real and vivid.
We, as a people are fortunate to have always had courageous men and women, prepared to step up and put themselves on the line to protect our people. It is good that we honor them.