Eastman Cemetery Restoration (Summer 2003)
Mendon Township, Clayton County, Iowa
For the past year-and-a-half Chris McClellan from Guttenberg, his Scout Troop, and members of the Clayton County Pioneer Cemetery Restoration Commission have been carefully working to renovate the Eastman Cemetery west of McGregor. The small family burial ground was started in 1854 by Peter and Mary Eastman when their daughter Anna died on January first of that year. Peter became the second burial in the Cemetery when he died on January 12. Later in 1854 Peter D. Cameron, the son of Anna’s sister Emma, died in La Crosse and was transported to McGregor for burial in the family plot.
In the years following, more than thirty burials were made on the quarter acre site—mostly family members and neighbors. The list of family names represented in the Cemetery include Adney, Bales, Boyle, Cameron, Cornish, Cruver, Eastman, Fitch, Klotzbach, Regal, Stence, Van Sickle, Wilson, and Wisemiller. The last burial recorded was that of Emma Eastman’s sister, Louisa Eastman Klotzbach, in 1916.
The Eastman Cemetery became known locally as the "Virgin Em Cemetery," referring to the local myth that Emma had married and then buried her nine husbands in the family plot. Only three of her husbands are actually buried there, and all died of natural causes at advanced ages.
The restoration work began last year by clearing the area of the brush, weeds, and tree overgrowth. Several 150-year-old cedars remain on the site as well as a row of mock orange bushes on two sides. Next, the area was probed for buried markers—none were found. Then the area was treated with herbicide and tilled to make a smooth surface and grass planted.
Since no markers remain in place, the area was *"witched" by Herb Kann of the Cemetery Commission in order to locate gravesites, and a map made of burial locations. Old photographs of the Cemetery will assist in placing markers in the correct places.
A chain link fence was put in place to define the Cemetery boundaries. A decorative arch with the Eastman name was constructed by the Industrial Arts Department at Guttenberg High School, and two brick pillars create a gated entrance.
The restoration/protection of the Eastman Cemetery will be finished this fall, although additional research will be needed to finalize a list of burials and determine where markers should be placed. Headstones have been ordered from the Veterans Administration for Emma’s seventh husband, DeWitt Clinton Van Sickle, and his brother Martin, who were both in the Blackhawk War of 1832.
The only markers now left at the Cemetery site are two small footstones for the graves of DeWitt Clinton Van Sickle, and the grave of Emma’s son, Peter D. Cameron. The headstones for Peter D. Cameron and Emma’s father, Peter Eastman, have been found off-site.
The Cemetery Commission is requesting the return of a number of headstones that were removed over the years. The stones will be repaired if necessary and re-set by Commission staff.
Hundreds of hours of donated labor went into the Eastman Restoration. Bricks for the pillars were donated, money contributions came from fundraisers by the Guttenberg Scout Troop, private donations, and The Clayton County Pioneer Cemetery Commission. Special appreciation goes to landowners Gene and Kathleen Milewsky who cooperated with the work of the Cemetery Commission and Scout workers.
Members of the Clayton County Pioneer Cemetery Commission include Lawrence Fox, Chairman (Clayton Center); Myra Voss, Secretary (Elkader); Herb Kann (Guttenberg); Don Sass (Luana); Gene Ruegnitz (Garber)
Scouts from Troop 40 from Guttenberg are Chris McClellan, Colton Kuhlman, Phil Rausch, Brian Schmidt, Marcus Susice, Shea Ronek, Brian Johnson, Alex Nieland, Dane Schroeder, Clarence Bolsinger. Scoutmaster is Steve Rausch. Parent assistants include Ken and Nancy McClellan
Chris McClellan’s Boy Scout Troop from Guttenberg and members of the Clayton County Pioneer Cemetery Commission work on final stages of restoration. Left to right: Dane Schroeder, Ken McClellan (on column), Phil Rausch, Chris McClellan, Herb Kann, Kolton Kuhlman, Louise Johnson, Steve Rausch (on column) Brian Johnson (Photo--Nancy McClellan)
*Witching is like dousing for water. When the witcher’s rods cross, that is the location of the grave. Direction of burial can be told, as well as relative size of person buried.
EASTMAN CEMETERY INTERMENTS
MENDON TOWNSHIP, CLAYTON COUNTY, IOWA
[Most of the grave markers are missing. Please report the location of lost/misplaced grave markers for any of the persons below so the stones can be returned to the Eastman Cemetery for the pending restoration. This is an important pioneer cemetery, the first burial being in 1854, the last about 1916.]
1. ADNEY, (daughter of Alonzo)
2. BALES, RALPH
3. BEE, BUKIE (nickname for foster child of Emma)
4. BOYLE, ROBERT OWEN
5. CAMERON, PETER (Peter Daniel Cameron, child of Emma & Peter) (gravestone located)
6. CORNISH, ANNA (sister of Emma)
7. CORNISH, ANNA MARIAH
8. CORNISH, ARTHUR (John?) (brother-in-law of Emma)
9. CORNISH, CHARLES
10. CORNISH, JENNIE A.
11. CORNISH, MARY
12. CORNISH, PETER
13. CORNISH, RAYMOND
14. CORNISH, SYLVESTER
15. CRUVER, (children)
16. EASTMAN, EMMA (headstone missing)
17. EASTMAN, GEORGE (nephew of Emma ?)
18. EASTMAN, MARY (mother of Emma)
19. EASTMAN, PETER (father of Emma) (gravestone located, footstone on site)
20. FITCH, JULIA ANNE (aunt of Emma)
21. KLOTZBACH, FRANKEY
22. KLOTZBACH, JACOB (brother-in-law of Emma)
23. KLOTZBACH, LIZZIE
24. KLOTZBACH, LOUISA (sister of Emma)
25. REGAL, (children)
26. STENCE, MICHAEL (husband—8th—of Emma)
27. VAN SICKLE, CHRIST
28. VAN SICKLE, DEWITT CLINTON (husband—7th—of Emma (original headstone missing, , footstone on site, new headstone from VA)
29. VAN SICKLE, FRANCIS
30. VAN SICKLE, MARTHA
31. VAN SICKLE, MARTIN (new headstone from VA)
32. VAN SICKLE, SHERMAN C. (4/10/66-6/20/68-same as Christ?)
33. WILSON, JOSEPH (husband—9th—of Emma)
34. WISEMILLER, MARILLA
For further information/questions/additions, please contact:
Ronald G. Harris
2802 50th St. S.
Wisconsin Rapids WI 54494
Copyright © 2003 by Ronald G. Harris