Shockley Cemetery Cleanup Effort

Clear Creek Township

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The first burial in Shockley Cemetery was Peter Besser who died just a few days after arriving in the area from Germany. The total land area is approximately 4 acres, part of which was used for a M.E. Church, long since gone. The land was never deeded, meaning it was meant to be township property. The land became the old Shockley Graveyard, originally known as the Hornish Graveyard and the transaction is duly recorded in deed records, books E and P. The last burial was Amanda Holmes, b. 1860, d. 1921.

In "Our Place in History" (1969), the Keokuk County Historical Association wrote "One of the oldest cemeteries in the county is the Hornish or Shockley graveyard in Clear Creek Township. A log church, the M.E. Church of the United States was also built near the site."

The following article is taken from the Keokuk County News, the June 20, 1946 edition: "The Hornish and Alexander families together with Wesley Goss formed the first Methodist Episcopal church group in Clear Creek Township. Alexander sold, conveyed and warranted against all comers two acres of land with entry privileges in the south west quarter of Section 27 Clear Creek township for church purposes. Title was conveyed to John Shockley, Wesley Goss, Abram Hornish, and Michael Hornish, Jr. as trustees for the Methodist Episcopal Church of the United States." On October 22, 1867, he further deeded two acres adjoining for public burying ground, also to the church trustees, with the proviso however that even thought the church failed to function, the land was to remain forever for these specific purpose for the public--to become township property, in other words. If any plat of Hornish or Shockley Cemetery ever existed, no one knows where it is.

The last burial was in 1921. Hogs had been let into the cemetery in the 1970's and this was reported in the Sigourney Review. There are about 150-160 known burials there, with at best 15 monuments still standing. The balance are covered up with dirt, stacked in piles along the side of the cemetery, or gone.

Restoration Begins!

The following information was compiled and provided by Cloyce D. Palmer.



Shockley Cemetery Before Restoration from NW corner looking east & SE



Shockley Cemetery After Restoration

   

Headstones awry

 

On a clear fall Sunday afternoon in September 1999, the Dutch Creek Flyers 4-H club assisted by their leaders Leon and Mrs. Griener, Township Trustee Pat Greiner, and Township Treasurer Gordon Horras, and armed with four large farm tractors, four chain saws, two four-wheelers, log chains and other necessary equipment attacked the fallen trees, limbs, and vines of the Shockley cemetery. In 3 1/2 hours they cleared all the trash, smaller trees, fallen trees and limbs from the property to a burn pile.

The work was hard, and the day was warm, but the club was well organized, and soon the area started to clear. An estimated 180 smaller trees were cut and removed from the area before work was halted. The task was facilitated by a bulldozer that came to the cemetery a few days earlier and removed the fence and brush along the outside of the burial area.

 
Bulldozer at work

Club members took the opportunity of listening to Pat Shaw, President of the Iowa Cemetery Association, to hear about and see what an old grave site was like, and to learn history of the area where they live from the death dates on the stones that were found. They also learned of the early deaths of many people of the time. One grave plot has 4 children under the age of 10 buried with the mother and father. When one club member located the site, soon many were there, and one club member was heard to comment, "These kids all died younger than we are."

 

Back Row, Pat Greiner, Township Trustee, Mark Sheets, Noel Greiner, Noah Greiner, Randy Flander, Brian Vincent, Bill Vincent, Brandon Vincent, Fletcher Flynn, Matt Hahn, Leon Greiner, Club Leader, Steve Hahn. On tractor in rear, Gordon Horras, Township Treasurer. F.R. Pat Shaw, Chris Hahn, Gabe Hahn, Shawn Flander, Taylor Bombei, Nathan Greiner, Tyler Sheets.

 

 

BackRow, Left - Right, Noel Greiner, Noah Hahn, Leon Greiner, Bryan Vincent, Bill Vincent, Matt Hahn. Front Row, Chris Hahn, Gabe Hahn, Shawn Flander, Taylor Bombei, Brandon Vincent, Nathan Greiner, Tyler Sheets, Fletcher Flynn. (members of the Dutch Creek Flyers 4-H Club)

Much work is still to be accomplished. The goal is to cut 72 of the 73 remaining large trees and remove the stumps, then a new fence with a memorial plaque will be placed. The work is expected to take about 2 years. Donations to the cemetery fund would be appreciated. Send donations to Pat Greiner, Township Trustee, 32713-260th, Keota, IA 52248.

 

Left, Bill Vincent, Bryan Vincent, Pat Shaw, Fletcher Flynn, Taylor Bombei, Shawn Flander.

Right, front to back, Gabe Hahn, Nathan Greiner, Chris Hahn, Pat Greiner.

 

A job well done!

 

 



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