Plymouth County
LeMars City Cemetery

Contributed by: Lin Ziemann

~Link to a 2008 photo page of the "Unique Monument" for Mittie Smith.


LeMars Sentinel, July 20, 1893


Up in our cemetery one may see an odd style tombstone. It is a flat faced
prairie boulder, facing the west, and on its rough, natural surface are
inscribed these words: "Mittie Smith, died July 3, 1888, 13 happy years."

Upon inquiry we learned that he to whom this stone was set as a monument,
was the 13 year old son of Mr. and Mrs. Milton Smith, who at the time lived
about four miles south of LeMars, but are now residents of Nebraska.

This prairie boulder originally rested near this pioneer house down on the
wild prairie, and in his babyhood, this boy used to romp and play and
sometimes fall asleep by the side of this stone. So very befitting the fond
parents removed it to the cemetery where the deceased was buried, and had
the above inscribed. When one comes to know the history of this singular
tombstone, they can at once appreciated its appropriateness. To the parents
it is more beautiful than a thousand dollar monument of polished marble.



An hours walk through the protestant cemetery of this city one day this week
prompts us to say the following concerning the city of our dead. Nothing
bespeaks more for the refinement, culture and religious sentiment of any
given community than to note the care they take of the last resting place of
their departed friends.

The LeMars cemetery comprises twenty acres of high land to the southeast of
the city. The view is sightly and the enclosure is well cared for. To C.
P. Woodard, more than to perhaps any single person, is due credit for the
management of the affairs of the cemetery association, he having been its
president for many years. One plans, but another generally executes and by
sweat and muscle brings perfection out of the untamed and crude elements.
Whoever has passed by this cemetery during the warm part of the season for
the past ten years has doubtless seen a stooped shouldered aged man at work
about the premises. Well, this gentleman is "Uncle George" whose surname is
Dodson. He commenced to care for these sacred grounds in 1882, at a time
when the cemetery presented a wild, prairie-like appearance: year by year
through his hard labor he has added trees, shrubs and flowers until today
the place presents a scene of cooling shade and floral beauty, of which
every true citizen is justly proud. Here one sees the various varieties of
pines, cedar, mountain ash, weeping mountain ash, birch, box-elder spruce,
juniper and many fine shrubs and flowers, all of which now have grown to be
real living beauties. In addition to what Mr. Dodson has done for the
association he has been paid by individuals to care for their lots, trim the
trees, cut the grass and see that all is kept in good shape. In these ten
years, he has buried over 500 persons. Almost any time of the year he may be
seen doing some useful work about the place. He is a great admirer of
shade trees, and some of the ugliest of small evergreens given him have,
under his care, almost magic-like been changed into most beautiful

These grounds have many substantial marble and metal monuments. A tool
house and private walk add to the convenience of the cemetery. A good wide
walk runs from the heart of the city to these grounds. Each recurring
springtime and summer this place is daily visited, the green carpeting
smoothed down, and a floral offering left upon the sacred mounds, where
repose the departed dead.




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