Showing posts with label Cemetery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cemetery. Show all posts


Grave Yard Book of Western Cemetery from 1869

 In 2013 the Ely History Society was contacted by Paula Sexton. Her elderly uncle had passed away and she found a number of items relating to the early days of the town of Western, Iowa. One of the items was a "Grave Yard Book" containing early burials in Western Cemetery, as well as burials that had been moved from the "old cemetery" in Western. The dates of the events range from 1869 to 1898.

In checking current lists of the burials in Western Cemetery, I realized that many of these early burials were not recorded. They had been lost through the years.

I felt it was important to publish what was contained in this old book, so I scanned the pages to enable me to magnify them. I then began the long process of transcribing the book page by page. The script as written by G. A. Manasmith, Sexton, was at times very hard to decipher, and the spelling was not the best. However, I tried to transcribe it as written, making corrections as necessary, but preserving the author's original entries. There are some entries I was unable to decipher. In addition there were a few obituaries tucked into the book that I also transcribed.

I hope that this transcription will help people who are looking for their ancestors graves.

Barb Horak,Collections Manager
Ely Community History Society

“The Grave Yard Book.”

The first 2 pages show a plot map of the cemetery with numbered lots. “A Plot of the grave yard of the town of Western” is the heading on the map.

"The first grave was dug by me in the year of AD 1869 when the transfering or removing of the Dead commenced. The Last Removal was made the 3rd day of May AD 1871 from the old Grave yard on A. Perry’s and A. S. Collier’s farm."  - G. A. Manasmith, Sexton 

The final entry in the book was in the year of 1898.

These links take you to uploads to Google Drive. You should be able to use the "+" to enlarge them.

Plot map 1 

Plot map 2

Lot Owners

 As I have time, I will upload each scanned page, but for now, here is the transcription. 

Transcription: Names of Lot Owners

Transcription: Town of Western, Iowa Original Cemetery Book

Transcription:  List of Old Cemetery Transfers & Free Burials

These are the burials I was unable to find in present Western Cemetery listings. 
Missing Burials 

And finally, Obituaries from the Western Grave Yard Book 

1884-Chesley L. Brockman
1888-Irene Stansbury
after 1885 - Rev. J.G. Snyder, (died in Des Moines)
1994-Jane Workman (loose slip of paper)
(unknown year) Isaac Workman (died at West Side)
1885-Mrs. Cinderella Rutt
1878-Jacob Funkhouser
1878-Mary Elizabeth DeMoss
(unknown year) Elizabeth Shuey
1874-Martin Rider

The present Western Cemetery is located on the northeast corner of the intersection of "C" Street and Vista Road, two gravel roads, just east of the small town of Western.

You can find present listings of burials in Western Cemetery at
Iowa Gravestone Photo Project

In searching newspaper archives, I have found a few obituaries that have the term "Western Cemetery" in them. Here are obits for 

William A. Boudinot, more about the family 
John H. Nesmith
(not Nethmeth as the obit states)
Ransom Davis
Mr. Manning, who is probably Daniel M. Manning.
Anna Manasmith

 Click to enlarge the obits, then click AGAIN if they aren't large enough




New Sign For Fackler's Grove Cemetery

On June 1, 2017 we installed a gate sign at Fackler's Grove Cemetery.  In the middle of the sign is a box holding pamphlets filled with information about the graves and the people who are buried there.

As stated elsewhere in this blog, the cemetery is located in the middle of private land, down a long lane. We thank Dennis Erenberger for allowing access to the cemetery.  Visitors should telephone 319-270-3836 to ask for permission to visit the cemetery.


More work at Facklers Grove Cemetery

The "Kershner" Area

The Kershner area as it appeared August 8, 2015 after considerable work had already been done.
Left , William J. Kershner; middle, Michael Kershner; and right, Rebekkah Kershner.
These stones were originally under ground and broken in several pieces.
Workers found the pieces by probing with rods and unearthed them.
They were later cleaned, pieced together as best possible and re-erected in the cemetery.

(Click the photos to enlarge them)

William J. Kershner

The support on the repaired Michael Kershner stone was removed.  

Rebekkah Kershner

The "Dennis" Area

Work continued on the Dennis burial area.  The Isaac and Mary A. Dennis grave stone was placed back on its base.  Two manufactured bases were set in the ground in preparation for returning other stones to their original placement, including the grave of Mary Ann Dennis' mother, Catherine Haynes. (Click photos to enlarge them.)

Arlen Nickolan (center), who has restored several pioneer cemeteries near
Riverside, Iowa, came to lend an experienced hand.  Jeff Ward on the left.

Readying the stone for placement back on the base.

The Isaac and Mary Anne Dennis stone is now on its base.
Jeff is setting a manufactured base in the ground.


Facklers Grove Cemetery Update

Work has continued through the summer at Facklers Grove Cemetery. The "Vornholt" area has been completed.   Work on the "Kershner" area is in progress, and the "Dennis" area has been surveyed to determine what needs to be done.  Most of this has been accomplished by Clary Illian and Jeff Ward.  Below are photos showing some of the progress that has been made.

We once again thank all the individuals who have contributed funds toward the restoration of this pioneer cemetery.  We especially want to thank volunteers that have contributed their manpower (or woman-power!) to this project.  We have much that is still left to accomplish!  If you wish to volunteer to help us with the labor, please call Barb at 319-848-4074.

(All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

The "Vornholt" Area

This area is the farthest east in the cemetery.  Gravestones have been cleaned,
repaired where possible, with bases leveled and stones reset.

The original gravestone of H. William Vornholt and his wife Elizabeth C. Vornholt was moved by family to Oakland Cemetery in Solon, Iowa some years ago.  ECHS had a plaque made to indicate their place of burial at Fackler's Grove Cemetery.

Jacob H. Vornholt
Son of H.W. & E.C
Died Aug. 11, 1878
2yr 3mo 13dy 

Clara E. Zobel
Born August 5, 1898
Died Aug. 6, 1898
(The infant's parents were Edward Zobel and Emmeline Vornholt Zobel,
daughter of H. W. Vornholt.)

Charlie Vornholt
Son of H.W. & E. C. Vornholt
Died July 29, 1878
Aged 14 yrs 7ms.16ds.

Catherine F. Vornholt
Daughter of H.W. & E.C. Vornholt
Died Aug. 6, 1878
11yr 6mo 22dy

A relative, Sharon Farnsworth reported that "Three of the children who died in the summer of 1878 of Yellow Fever, Charles, Catherine, and Jacob are buried with their parents in Fackler Cemetery."

See a photo of the H.W. and E.C. Vornholt family in a previous blog post.

The "Kershner" Area

The "Kershner" area was excavated and leveled earlier in the summer by a work crew of volunteers.  Two of these gravestones were under ground.  They have been cleaned, repaired, bases leveled and stones reset.  The two stones with blue tape will have tops attached soon.  On the left is the gravestone of Rebekkah Kershner, daughter of M. & Mary M. who died November 1, 1848, aged 10 years.  The middle stone is her father Michael Kershner.  The stone on the left is Michael's son William James Kershner.  Find-a-Grave listing.

The "Dennis" Area

The "Dennis" area has been partially excavated and work will begin soon to reset the bases and repair the gravestones. Clary Illian and Ed Vavra are washing a stone to increase readability.  To see Dennis family members buried here, please go to the Find-a-Grave website.

This stone was mostly buried. It is the one being washed with water in the photo above.  It is the gravestone for Catherine Haynes, who died at age 83 in 1882.  Catherine Haynes was Mary Ann Dennis' mother.


Facklers Grove Cemetery Work Day



The Ely Community History Society is asking for volunteers to help during a work morning (9:00 a.m. to noon) at Facklers Grove Cemetery on Saturday, May 30th.  Volunteers will gather at the Ely Community Center at 9:00 a.m. and we will plan to work no later than noon.

The Ely Community Center is located at 1570 Rowley St, Ely, IA - it is a 2-story brown brick building on the south side of the corner of  Rowley Street and W6E (Ely Road/ State Street).

Work will include continuing clean-up of the grounds, identifying and clearing gravestone areas, and cleaning gravestones. Tools to bring include shovels, garden rakes, whisk brooms, stiff nylon brushes, trowels and loppers. Please label any tools you bring.  Wear gloves, clothes and shoes suitable for working. Bring bug spray and water if you wish.  

If you wish to help, please call Barb Horak at 848-4074 or reply to the email on the upper right of this page.  THANK YOU!


May 9, 2015

A crew of eight people started off this year's work at Fackler's Grove Cemetery on the morning of May 9, 2015. See below for photos.


May 9th Facklers Grove Cemetery work day

The Ely Community History Society is asking for volunteers to help during a work morning (9:00 a.m. to noon) at Facklers Grove Cemetery on Saturday, May 9th (rain-date will be May 16th).  Volunteers will gather at the Ely Community Center at 9:00 a.m.  The Ely Community Center is located at 1570 Rowley St, Ely, IA - it is a 2-story brown brick building on the south side of Rowley Street just after you turn off W6E (also State Street),
(google map tiny url)

Work will include general spring clean-up, picking up sticks, clearing growth in the fence line, identifying and clearing gravestone areas, and cleaning gravestones. Tools to bring include shovels, digging forks, rakes, whisk brooms, stiff nylon brushes, trowels and loppers.  Wear  gloves, clothes and shoes suitable for working, and bring bug spray and water if you wish.

If you wish to help, please call Barb Horak at



Our crew has been working on repairing bases and stones.  Three repaired bases with head stones are now back where they should be in the cemetery.  Below shows a repair on a base before it was placed in the ground.  The second photo shows a grave stone re-attached to its base with supports to hold it in place.


July 20, 2014

Three of us ECHS members went out to the cemetery this afternoon.  As discussed in older posts, many headstones were moved away from their original position some time ago.  Our intent today was to work on figuring out what headstones matched which empty bases that we had uncovered during previous work days.   We made some progress, but there is a long road ahead of us to restore what we can of the grave yard.

While we were working we noticed that we had an on-looker - a red fox.  He wandered in and watched us for awhile, but the click of my camera scared him away. It was 82 degrees, but the cemetery was breezy and pleasant today.

We have been finding some news about the cemetery in on-line old newspapers from Mount Vernon and Lisbon.  Here are a few things we have found.

1898-08-12- Mount Vernon Hawk-Eye, page 8
Born:  to Mr. and Mrs. Ed. Zobal, Friday, a girl.  The child only lived about twenty-four hours.  The mother is doing as well as could be expected.  The babe was buried on Sunday afternoon in the cemetery in Fackler's Grove.  (From cemetery list:  Zobel, Clara E. – b. 5 August 1898; d. 6 August 1898)   Clara E. Zobel listing at Find-a-Grave

1898-11-25 - Mount Vernon Hawk-Eye, page 8
Mr. Ferdinand Kershner of Marion was in the grove taking the measurements for a new fence at the cemetery. 

1899-02-10 - Mount Vernon Hawk-Eye, page 8
On the 1st of Feb. occurred the death of Michael Fackler at the home of his brother Samuel.  Brights disease was the cause of his death.  The funeral was conducted by W. H. Fackler at the house at one o'clock on Friday.

Aunt Sallie Startzer was unable to get to the funeral of her brother Michael on account of a wreck on the railroad at Grand Junction, where she is staying, and no train went east in time for her to get here for the funeral.

(Obituary on the same page) 
     Michael Fackler, whose death is recorded in these columns, was born in Ohio, June 14th, 1828, and came with his parents to Louisa county, Iowa, in 1852 and shortly after came to Fackler's Grove where they took up a large tract of land and Michael has lived in or near the Grove ever since.  He never married therefore never enjoyed the pleasures or bore the burdens of marrying and rearing a family.  He lived alone most of the time until about three months ago when on account of failing health he came to live with his brother's family, who tenderly nursed and cared for him.  The greater part of the time he had to be helped from one part of the house to another, and altho he was a great sufferer he never complained and until a day or two before his death he had hopes of recovery.  He often showed by words and actions that he was grateful to them for what they did for him.  In spite of the exceeding cold a large crowd of friends assembled at the home of Samuel Fackler, Sr., to take the last look at all that remained of "uncle Mike," as he was familiarly known.
     Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Fackler express their sincere thanks to the friends and neighbors who so kindly assisted them in the last sad duties to their brother.  (From the cemetery list:  Fackler, Michael; d 1 Feb 1899; 70 years 8 months) 

Michael Fackler listing at Find-a-Grave

1899-09-27 page 8 - Mount Vernon Hawk-Eye
The Varnholt boys set up a fine monument on the grave of their father in Fackler's Grove cemetery on Friday.


Work Day - June 7, 2014

Saturday, June 7th

A group of  13 volunteers headed out to the Fackler's Grove Cemetery this morning to mark out grids with rope and stakes, and then systematically probe for buried grave markers and bases.  Malinda, a descendant of the Fackler family, her husband and son were part of the group.  She remembered being in the cemetery as a child and that some grave markers had sedum and columbines planted in front of them.  There is considerable sedum scattered here and there, and also a few columbines.

The probe went well, but it is slow work and we will need several more sessions to cover the entire cemetery. 

One gravestone uncovered was a small stone.  On it was written: Dau. of M. and Mary  M. KERSHNER, died Nov. 1, 1848 Aged 10 years. The Fackler Cemetery listing notes a Rebekkah Kershner, who died Nov. 1, 1848, aged 10 years.  Her name may be on the back of the stone.  We did not turn it over.

Another partial gravestone was discovered with "lliam J." visible on it.  This could be William James Kershner, son of M. and Mary M. Kershner, who died at age 22 on July 2, 1856.

Below are some photos of the work party.  If you wish to see larger photos, double-click on the slide show.

New entrance gate

The Fackler's Grove Cemetery has a new gate and fencing at its north entrance.  The old fencing on either side of the former gate had definitely seen better days, so most of it was torn out and replaced. 

Thanks to George Chadima of Broadmoor Farms near Fairfax for donating the wire fencing!  

We are also very appreciative of a grant from SAPIC (State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries) that helped cover the cost of this project.  Visit their web site!


May 10 cleaning

On Saturday, May 10, 2014 a good group of helpers joined together for spring cleaning at the Fackler's Grove Cemetery bringing along small chain saws, loppers, clippers, weed whackers and other tools to use.  We thank the Kemmerer, Faltis, Showalter,and Horak families as well as Robert Hach and Clary Illian for their cheerful and willing help!

The gate area was cleared and old fencing taken down in preparation for placing a new gate. An area at the entrance was cleared of brush to allow for parking and improved access for vehicles.  Low hanging and/or dead branches were cut and hauled away from the grounds and the we walked the cemetery to find and remove fallen branches.

Below are some photos:


Calling for Volunteers

Spring is here and the Ely Community History Society is gearing up and planning for more work on the Fackler's Grove Cemetery project.  We are hoping the weather will warm up soon because we are excited to get back to it after the long, cold winter!

Many people have expressed interest in helping with this project. If you are up for some physical work and can commit to a few hours of work this spring and summer, please call Barb at 848-4074, or email us at the address in the right column.

Thank you!


Progress Report on Fackler's Grove Cemetery Project

As cold weather approaches, it is time to take a look back and plan ahead for the coming year.

We are pleased with our beginning progress.  The cemetery was cleared of brush and some trees, thanks to an Eagle Scout project, and the grounds have been mowed since June.   We have had meetings, given talks, received grant monies and donations, consulted with experts and have learned a lot.

Probing with rods has unearthed many buried footstones, bases for removed headstones, and even a couple buried headstones.  We are becoming more optimistic about being able to match headstones with their original locations in the cemetery. We have decided to postpone more thorough probing for buried stones until spring rather than having them exposed to the weather over the winter.

We have taken measurements of the positions of the stones in the cemetery and created a chart of existing features, resulting in a rough map.  We will use the map to compare to our documentation of burial listings created in the past.

Due to a family crisis our tree removal volunteer is not available and it is doubtful that tree removal we had scheduled for fall will happen.

Our next task is to create a budget request for 2014 to present to the Big Grove Trustees outlining our needs.  To that end if any of our readers have specialized knowledge and can help us to estimate the potential cost of mowing and spraying next summer, we would appreciate the help. 

Here is what we hope to accomplish next year:
 - spray to remove invasive species
 - continue upkeep, mowing
 - continue tree removal
 - repair gate/posts
 - create visitor information signage
 - continue probing /locating of graves
 - start cleaning/repair of headstones

Many people have expressed interest in helping with this project. If you are up for some physical work and can commit to a few hours of labor next season, please call Barb at 848-4074 or Clary at 848-4963.



We are pleased to receive a generous donation from the Town and Country Club of Ely area in the amount of $300 to be used toward the Fackler's Grove Cemetery Project.  Clary Illian and Barb Horak spoke to the group some weeks ago and their interest in the project led to the donation.  Thank you!


Learning more

Sunday, August 25th 2013, a group from Ely Community History Society drove to the Riverside, Iowa area to view two restored pioneer cemeteries.

We visited with Arlen Nickolan, of rural Riverside, who was instrumental in restoring both cemeteries and continues to maintain them along with the local township trustees funding.

Arlen gave us a very informative talk about his experiences and tricks of the trade he had learned, as well as supplies that we will need and other tips. 

He then took us to the two cemeteries, Kupka Cemetery, located on a wooded hilltop reached by a path through fields with not many graves, and the second, Patterson Cemetery, also reached by a path through fields, which had 40+ graves stones, some of which he had to fish out of a nearby pond!

Arlen has done excellent work and we thank him for his willingness to share knowledge with us. With each encounter with people who have "already done this"  we learn so much, and we gain confidence that we can accomplish our goals at Fackler's Grove Cemetery.

Below is an article about one of the cemeteries Arlen helped restore.

Local efforts brings cemetery “back to life”


Visit with SAPIC experts

On Wednesday, July 31, 2013 ECHS members Ed Vavra, Clary Illian, & Barb Horak, as well as Robert Hach of Ely, met with Steve and Donna Story from Hawkeye, Iowa at Fackler's Grove Cemetery.

The Storys are members of the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries (SAPIC) and have been working in pioneer cemeteries for 30 some years.

The Storys gave us much needed information and advice, showed us how to probe for buried stones and demonstrated dowsing techniques used for finding unmarked burials, where the ground has been disturbed.

As we probed we began to find stones buried anywhere from 4 to 6 inches under the ground.  Most of these were bases of gravestones that had fallen and been moved to another location, but we did find a number of foot stones with initials and a couple of buried gravestones.

Thanks so much to Steve and Donna.  Your advice and willingness to volunteer your time is very much appreciated!

Below is a photo slide show of what we unearthed today.  Click on an image to enlarge it.  If you cannot view the slide show, click here.

Info meeting held

An informational meeting about the Fackler's Grove Cemetery Project was held on July 23rd in the lower level of the Ely Community Center with 13 attending.

Barb Horak gave a brief history about how the early Ely area settlers came to Iowa, information on some of the families represented in the cemetery, and a bit of history on the cemetery itself.

Clary Illian talked about how the project started and progress so far.  At present we are in the "clean-up" stage, and the entire project may take several years. 

A discussion and question period ended the evening.

The owner of the land surrounding the cemetery expressed concern that people may be entering his farmstead and crossing his property without his knowledge or permission.  For this reason we have posted directions on how to access the cemetery.  Click here for that information. 


Grant received

The Ely Community History Society is pleased to announce that we are the recipient of a $200.00 grant from the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries (SAPIC).  The grant is to  be used toward the Fackler's Grove Cemetery Project. 

SAPIC was formed in 1996 as a result of legislation that allowed for each of Iowa's 99 counties to create a County Cemetery Commission. The focus of these Commissions was to rescue untended pioneer graves and cemeteries and to take responsibility for the upkeep of such sites.   Iowa law defines a Pioneer Cemetery as one in which there have been 12 or fewer burials in the past 50 years.

Please visit the SAPIC web site to find out more about this organization.

The last burial at Fackler's Grove Cemetery was in 1917, so it qualifies as a pioneer cemetery.  You may view known burials in the cemetery at the Find A Grave web site.


Progress Report and Upcoming Meeting

June 1, 2013
Boy Scout, Sam Wertz, members & supporting adults of the Red Cedar District, Hawkeye Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, volunteers and Ely Community History Committee members gathered at Fackler's Grove Cemetery on June 1st to begin the long-needed clean-up of the grounds. Sam Wertz has chosen this to be his Eagle Scout Project.

The scouts and their families and friends did an outstanding job.  They were well organized, prepared for the work that needed to be done, and there was  lot of work!  There may have been some moments of "What did we get ourselves into," when the workers pulled up and saw the chest high grass!

Below are some photos of the work in progress.

Click the images to enlarge them.

A rather daunting look at the lush growth
of weeds and ditch lilies before work started.

Work in progress

Lots of foliage to remove!
Above and below:  photos of the "after"
They also removed a lot of brush
and felled one dead tree.

June 15, 2013
The second Eagle Scout work day on June 15th at the cemetery also went very well and a lot of work was accomplished. The scouts and volunteers continued clearing grass and brush and mowed the part they had done June 1st again. They also hauled all the wood from the felled tree to a nearby ravine.

Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR)
The Ely Community History Society will be meeting with an expert on ground penetrating radar to learn about the technology and decide if it will be worthwhile to use his services to do a survey of the grounds. GPR is non-invasive so no graves or stones would be disturbed.  A survey could help us with the following:
- Identify unmarked grave locations
- Locate markers or bases buried under the sod
- Result in a "map' of his findings

Upcoming Informational Meeting
ECHS will hold an informational meeting in the lower level of the Ely Community Center on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.   The Center is located at 1570 Rowley Street in Ely.  All interested parties are invited to attend to learn about the Fackler's Grove Cemetery Project.  For information call Clary Illian at (319) 848-4963 or Barb Horak, 848-4074.

If you wish to donate toward this worthy project, please send your check with "Fackler's Grove Cemetery Project" in the memo line to:

 Ely Community History Society, Inc.
  P.O. Box 191
  Ely, IA 52227

The ECHS is a not-for-profit organization.