The Cedar Valley Times
Monday, February 28, 2005
War of 1812 vet finally honored
By Dean Close - Times News Editor
When Kelly Loveless learned the U.S. Government would consider sending a marker to honor her great-great-grandfather,
David Lambert, she was expecting a small metal stake to place in front of his grave at McBroom Cemetery between Shellsburg and Urbana.
Instead, she got a 250-pound marble monument.
"They called me one day and said, 'Your tombstone is here,'" said Loveless, who lives in Center Point.
Loveless has spent years working on her family's genealogy. She discovered that one of her great-great-grandfathers, David Lambert, served in the War of 1812, but was never officially recognized as a veteran.
Lambert, who died in 1865, and his wife, are buried at McBroom Cemetery, but time and the elements have destroyed their original grave markers.
Loveless and other relatives found out about Lambert's military service and began to write letters to U.S. officials to see if the government would recognize his service. She knew that someone in the government had found Lambert's military records, and she signed a form agreeing to accept a monument if the request was approved.
Still, she said, she was happy and surprised to learn that the government was honoring a her great-great-grandfather with a marble tombstone like those used in Arlington National Cemetery.
Loveless is working with other descendants of David Lambert to organize a memorial service and tombstone dedication at McBroom Cemetery on April 1.
"That's not a joke," says a line from an e-mail that is being sent to Lambert descendants all over the Midwest.
Several descendants of David Lambert are coming to Iowa to study more about their family tree, visit cemeteries and learn more about Lambert and other descendants. This will also be an opportunity for Loveless to meet some of her distant relatives for the very first time.
Loveless said she is working with Gene Davis of the Benton County Cemetery Association to get the stone set in time for the April 1 ceremony.
Davis said the goal of the association was to preserve both the tombstones in the county's pioneer cemeteries, and the stories of the people buried there.
"It's part of our plan to go in and take care of the stones, and to take care of all the families that are involved," Davis said. "This will be one situation where hopefully we can do that."
Usually Davis and the other volunteers have the job of repairing old stones before replacing them in their proper place. This time, however, he will have the privilege of placing a brand new monument.
Military records found
Loveless said that one of the things she and other relatives found was David Lambert's discharge from the Army for his service during the War of 1812.
"Apparently David joined the Maine militia and those units were turned into the 33rd and 34th United States Army Infantry Regiments. David was assigned to Capt Benjamin Poland's company of the 34th USA INF REGT," she said.
"There are still a couple of lines I can't read but the most important stuff is included in this draft," she said.
The following is Loveless's first draft of transcribing the discharge.
War of 1812 Discharge for David Lambert of Canaan, Somerset, Massachusetts - Dated 5 May 1814
I CERTIFY upon Honor that David Lambert of Captain Benjamin Poland Company of the 34th Regiment of Infantry aged 24 years; five feet six inches high; has a light complexion; brown hair; blue eyes; was born in town of Canaan in the state of Massachusetts and is by occupation a farmer was enlisted by Capt. G Adams at Canaan in the county of Somerset in the state of Massachusetts on the sixth day of May 1813. He is mustered for discharge in consequence of the completion of his enlistment. That he served one years, (blank) months, (blank) days. That he has received the following articles of uniformed clothing: one hats, one coats, one vests, two overalls, three pair of shoes, three stockings, (blank) socks, one blanket, one frock, (blank) trousers, two jackets, one gaithers, one cockades and eagles, one stocks and clasps. and three shirts and three trousers.
That he has been subsisted according to law - That he has pay due him from the twenty eighth of February 1814 to the fifth teeth day of May 1814 and is entitled to traveling expenses from this post to Canaan, the place that he enlisted, being a distance of four hundred miles.
Given under my hand this Sixth day of May 1814 at Plattsburg, New York
His discharge is registered in the Company book, the fifth day of May 1814
Robert Gibson Lt. 34th Infantry and Company Commander
In addition to Lambert's military service in Maine, Loveless and other researchers in her family have learned how Lambert came to end up living in Iowa, and have been tracing their connections to Lambert, who was a pioneer, school teacher and minister. For more information about Lambert or the ceremony, contact Loveless, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cedar Valley Times
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Pioneer Cemetery Association presents first annual report
By Steve Meyer - Times Correspondent
VINTON - In its first full year of operation, the Benton County Pioneer Cemetery Commission has conducted restoration efforts in eight pioneer cemeteries using all volunteer labor according to Gene Davis of Vinton, Chairman of the commission.
Davis presented a report to the supervisors at their Dec. 12 meeting. Davis reports that 24 people volunteered time and effort in cemetery restoration during 2003. Davis notes the efforts of two other primary volunteers in addition to himself: Ed Strellner from Van Horne and Alfred Schwartz from Vinton. The three men traveled nearly 6,000 miles and contributed 831 volunteer hours to pioneer cemetery restoration work in Benton County During 2003.
Cemeteries worked on by the Commission in 2003 were the Houghton, Toogood and Kirchner-Henning Cemeteries in Homer Township, Luzerne Cemetery, Prairie EUB Cemetery in Eldorado Township, East Eden Cemetery, and the Wright Cemetery in Iowa Township. According to Davis, 204 headstones were restored in those cemeteries.
"It will get more difficult now. We got the easy ones done this year," said Davis.
Davis made the Commission's budget request, asking for $4,000 in the next years budget, a 20 percent reduction from this year's budget of $5,000. Davis said the commission received $700 in donated funds plus material donations over the last year.The Commission was established in 2002. Thirty-three of the county's 71 cemeteries meet the criteria of a pioneer cemetery, which means a cemetery that has had less than six burials in the last 50 years.
The Cedar Valley Times
Tuesday, April 20, 2004
Work day improves cemetery, offers lessons
By Dean Close - Times News Editor
On Monday, June 17, 1895, Evaline Gillis and all three of her children - Omer, age 9, Eugene, age 7, and 4-year-old Oniea - died.
On Saturday, April 17, 2004, several people stood at McBroom Cemetery north of Shellsburg and wondered how and why the mother and children all died on the same day. Nobody there knew. Some wondered if they would ever learn the history of that family's tragic day.
The members of the Benton County Cemetery Association began their season of restoring the county's Pioneer Cemeteries with a work day at McBroom Cemetery on 59th Street Trail, a winding gravel road about halfway between Shellsburg and Urbana.
McBroom was the last name of several people buried at that cemetery, including Thomas McBroom, who died in 1897.
Joining the association members on this day were some students from St. John's Lutheran Church in Center Point and the Center Point-Urbana High School service learning class. The project helped the association volunteers make progress on a cemetery in need of much work, and it gave the students an opportunity to learn about cemetery history
Like most of the Pioneer Cemeteries of the county, there has been little activity at the cemetery in recent years.
Many of the graves were covered with leaves; the first thing the students did on Saturday was rake the leaves away from the tombstones.
Working with the youngsters allowed the association members - virtually all of whom are retirees - an opportunity to share their knowledge of cemetery care and cemetery history with the younger generation.
One of the lessons the youngster learned was how to locate a grave where there is no marker.
While holding two L-shaped brass rods, called dowsing rods, parallel in front of him, Gene Davis walked across the cemetery. When he crossed a grave, the magnetic force of the casket below caused the metal rods to cross.
Davis showed and explained the phenomenon to several of the students on Saturday, and told them that it was possible to tell whether the grave below was that of an adult or a child by how much and how quickly the brass rods moved when held over the grave.
Association members also showed the students how to coat an old tombstone with flour to make the letters more readable without damaging the stone.
And even as they continue to work to improve Pioneer Cemeteries and teach youngsters about them, the adults are also learning about cemeteries themselves.
Recently, association members learned that once a cemetery is designated a Pioneer Cemetery, it will keep that designation even if active burial resumes there. Pioneer Cemeteries are defined, in part, as cemeteries where there have been six or fewer burials in the past 50 years. Work will continue throughout the year, as weather permits, at Pioneer Cemeteries across the county.
One of the problem with a few of the cemeteries is that they are located on private land near fields that are in use. Association members have been in contact with landowners, hoping to gain permission to check for graves and begin restoration work.For information or to volunteer, call call Zelda Sackett at 443-2029 or Davis at 472-5348
The Cedar Valley Times
Thursday, February 06, 2003
By Steve Meyer - Times Correspondent
VINTON - Five miles southwest of Vinton at the intersection of 23rd Avenue and 65th Street lays an acre of land covered with a dense tangle of trees.
To the passerby the small woodlot looks like just that - a woodlot. Yet when one actually probes the snarl of nettles and brush, there is one small hint that the woodlot was once something else - a cemetery.
A jumble of headstones piled at the base of a tree provides the only evidence that this was the final resting place for an unknown number of souls.
The history of the place has for most part been forgotten and over time literally obliterated, as some area residents recall a time long past when there were more stones visible in the cemetery.
Local folklore also has it that there was a time when hogs were raised in the cemetery.
The woodlot is shown on county maps as the Lutheran Cemetery and is historically known as the Bellar Cemetery.
At one time a church stood on the spot and a small woodlot across the road was home to a country school.
According to local accounts, the church was dismantled in the early 1900s and moved to Vinton where it was used to construct the Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
The land was donated to Benton County in 1949 and in the 1960s was turned over to the Conservation Commission for a wildlife area.
Like many old pioneer cemeteries, no cemetery plot exists and references to people actually buried there are few, though a survey of the site by a noted local dowitcher indicated there could be 50 to 100 graves on the site.
Blairstown historian Steve Meyer was able to find scattered references to five burials in the cemetery. One of those persons supposedly buried somewhere on the site is Civil War veteran John C. Irwin, who fought with the 9th Iowa Infantry Company D. Yet there is no stone of any kind marking Irwin's grave.
The stone of his two-year-old son Wiley, however, is one of those that has stood the test of time and still remains.
Pioneer Cemetery Association members feel some of the headstones that undoubtedly toppled over following decades of neglect could be buried just beneath the surface of the earth.
The question of what is best to do with the site was brought up at a recent Benton County Board of Supervisors meeting by Gene Davis, chairman of Benton County's newly created Pioneer Cemetery Commission.
Benton County Engineer Myron Parizek and Conservation Director Gary Fordice both indicated that clearing the land off would require a substantial commitment of manpower and equipment.
No decision and no action has been decided on anything to do with the Bellar Cemetery by either the county or the Pioneer Cemetery Commission at this time.The most feasible plan may indeed be, as talked about, erecting a sign noting the cemetery and indicating that those at rest there are the people who originally broke the land that gave rise to Benton County's agriculture industry.
The Cedar Valley Times
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Vinton woman helps track history through cemeteries
By Bethany Close- Times Correspondent
In the 1970ís, Martha Long helped organize the Benton County Historical Society, and thus began her work with cemeteries. Martha has helped others to locate and catalog the sixty-six cemeteries in Benton County.
Of those cemeteries, thirty are classified as pioneer cemeteries. A pioneer cemetery is one which has not had a burial in the last fifty years.
Part of the work Martha has been doing over the years is updating the cataloging of cemeteries by adding more records found and recording recent burials.
In Benton County, the recording of deaths did not begin until July of 1880, and even then not all deaths were recorded until a few years later. Marriage records began to be recorded in 1855.
In the courthouse were boxes over 100 years old containing marriage certificates, death records, births, and marriage returns. Martha, along with the help of Bob Lagrange, Yvonne Henkle, Rich Farmer and Connie Westcott, went through these boxes, sorting and filing these different records. When they were done they had filled a total of 42 notebooks. 25 of these were Return of Marriage records; 8 were marriage certificates; 8 notebooks with death records from 1922-1935; and one notebook is filled with births from 1890.
One of Marthaís pet projects has been trying to find all the burials from the Bear Creek Cemetery. According to obituaries and death records at the courthouse, there are over 100 unmarked graves at the cemetery. Martha was told a few years ago that at one time records were kept of the graves, but they were lost in a house fire many years ago.
Bear Creek cemetery is the only one located in Harrison Township. The Harrison Township is believed to be the only Township in Benton County to have only one cemetery.
Martha and a couple of friends, Alice Meyer and Karen Finley put together a compilation of obituaries and put them on CDís available to the public. On CD #1 there are over 1,000 general pictures of the cemetery, individual tombstones, and the church.
On CD #2 there are over 1,200 images of obituaries, 89 index and census images, over 100 images of news items, veteranís lists and 100 images of in-depth research on a few of the families. Marthaís goal regarding the Bear Creek Cemetery is to see the west side stones restored.
Sources to find death records from 1855 to the present are at the Vinton Public Library, which has the Vinton Eagle, Benton County Times and and the Cedar Valley Times on microfilm.
Horridge House has records of the Vinton Review from the 1890ís to the early 1900. A few may also be found from the Center Point newspaper.
Martha keeps the obituaries from the Vinton papers and the Cedar Rapids Gazette, alphabetizing them by the first letter of the last name. She so far has ten notebooks full.
Martha has indexed the Vinton Eagle and Cedar Valley Times from 1880-1950, and hopes to continue on to the present. She also plans to continue adding and updating records for the Vinton Public Library and the Historical Society. Martha says ĎIf any man or woman thinks they are bored they should try doing their family history. It is very interesting, challenging, lots of detective work. Itís best to start at the present and work backwards.í
If you need help getting started or if you are looking for more information, Martha has lots of resources and information, especially for the northern part of the county.