The objective of the MCPCRP has four main goals. First is the cleaning of
the sites so that the graves of Mitchell County Pioneers can be honorably
presented. Secondly, to the extent possible, we want to copy the data from
the tombstones and share it with the world via the Mitchell county
IaGenWeb site. Third, is to restore the headstones as close to original
condition as possible. Forth, is to maintain the restored Mitchell Pioneer
Cemetery site for the future.
More specifically, our goals are:
- Research the exact location of the Pioneer Cemetery.
- Physically locate the Pioneer Cemetery.
- Clean and clear the derelict cemetery from centuries of neglect.
- Restore and preserve the Pioneer Cemetery.
- Document and record those interred.
- Register the cemetery.
- Restore and preserve the headstones.
- Post names on the Mitchell County IaGenWeb site for genealogical
and local history purposes.
- Arrange for local "Adopt a Cemetery" program for continued
If your organization or group would like to learn more about the Mitchell
County Pioneer Cemetery Restoration Project (MCPCRP), we have a
Microsoft Power Point Presentation available and one of our Coordinators
will provide a thirty minute presentation to your group. Please contact
Merri Cross or Larry Kershner to arrange to give the MCPCRP
presentation to your group.
Larry Kershner and Merri Cross are busy giving presentations and fund
raising to various groups.
MCPCRP is diligently researching, as well as documenting genealogical
information in all Townships in Mitchell County. MCPCRP staff is
working to appoint volunteers to assist with all 39 Pioneer Cemetery
Dudley Pioneer Cemetery in West Cedar Township, with the leadership of
Marilyn O'Connor, should be finalized in the spring with the Monument
already installed with assistance of the Osage FFA. A perimeter fence with
a gate will be installed by this coming summer.
Grove Pioneer Cemetery in Burr Oak Township, N.W. of the ghost town of
Leo/Cardiff has been located. Further research and documentation is
required at this site.
Holbrook Corner/Nelson Pioneer Cemetery (between New Haven and
Riceville) seems to have been lost forever. No documentation, historical
data or physical evidence, at this time, has been found other than what has
been written in historical books. There were two headstones in this Pioneer
Liberty Cemetery at Little Cedar/Wheeler, while not classified as a
Pioneer Cemetery, data compilation is underway. Expected to be
documented, finalized and posted on the internet shortly.
Lohr Pioneer Cemetery in East Cedar Township is 98% complete and
being maintained with tender loving care from the Steve Ham family and
Robert Hollatz Cedar Twp Trustee. This Pioneer Cemetery would take
first prize for being in the worst condition. Literally this cemetery was
under a windfall of trees and debris. (See the pictures below) Our hat is off
to Steve and Bob for the many hours they spent restoring dignity to this
Mona Pioneer Cemetery in Otranto Township is well on the way to
restoration. Thanks to Loren Meyer Otranto Twp Trustee, as well as
residents of Otranto Township and donations from area businesses. This
Pioneer Cemetery is one of the largest we have to restore – almost one
acre, with approximately 63 documented burials and many headstones to
Old Newburg Pioneer Cemetery in Newburg Township is on hold in
respect to physical restoration. Some probing to find headstones has been
completed but more is required, plus restoration is the goal.
Old Otranto Cemetery seems to be appropriately nicknamed “The
Mystery of Mitchell County” in that we are finding it's like looking for the
proverbial needle in the haystack. Persistence on our part will locate it,
guaranteed. Conflicting historical information has confused its location.
It's there; we just haven't found it yet.
Osage Pioneer Cemetery (Original) has been located and identified. On W
side of S. 7th St at the IC RR tracks. Additional probing and dowsing will
be required to provide additional data as to those interred.
Oscar Peterson Pioneer Cemetery in East Cedar Township has been
documented and located. Research continues to document those interred
there. If you have any information you can share on this cemetery we
would welcome your input.
Scott Pioneer Cemetery in Section 2 of Jenkins Township has yet to be
located. Little is known with the exception of a brief mention in a 1963
Smith Family Pioneer Cemetery in East Cedar Township, with
Coordination from Marlene Kershner, research continues with probing,
dowsing, as well as restoration should start shortly with completion
expected next summer. Volunteer assistance from the land owner, Larry
Kershner and Kathy Pike.
West Cedar Township Pioneer Cemetery has been researched and
documented. Dowsing and Probing has been accomplished by Larry and
Marlene Kershner in a limited attempt with results of 8 or 10 internments.
Restoration is proceeding slowly. We have located one readable headstone
with 4 or 5 additional stones. If you have any information you can share on
this cemetery we would be appreciative.
Wayne Township Cemetery E. of McIntire, while not classified as a
Pioneer Cemetery, Merri Cross is in the process of recording and
documenting those interred there. Expect to be completed and posted on
the internet shortly.
Union Valley Pioneer Cemetery S.W. of Orchard is on the verge of being
lost forever. It’s on private land, the landowner is receptive to limited
access and more work is needed here to preserve what is left of this once,
one acre Pioneer Cemetery. If you can assist with this project we would
appreciate your efforts.
Unknown Pioneer Cemetery – (97-17-17-2) in E. Cedar Twp. Section 17,
Not Dudley Pioneer Cemetery, opened in 1863, 2-3 burials, at one time
referred to as “Indian Mounds”. If you have any information you can
share on this we would be appreciative.
Unknown Pioneer Cemetery – (100-18-21-6) in Otranto Twp. Section 21.
Burial of Lorenzo D. Merry (first death in the township 1855) was
rumored to be located at Merry’s Ford at the north end of Otranto Park.
If you have any information you can share on this we would be
The destruction of headstones is caused for the most part, not by vandals,
rather deer and cattle that use the upright stones as scratching posts. Once
the headstone is toppled off the base, over centuries of time, the main part
of the headstone can be covered in dirt, vegetation and debris. Probing
with a metal rod normally can find the headstone laying just an inch or
two below the surface. The goal is then to upright the headstone and
reattach it to the base. A fence needs to be installed to help protect the
repaired headstones from further deer and cattle damage. Time and
elements also take their toll on upright headstones.
MCPCRP is continually researching these 39 Pioneer Cemeteries.
Research data has been limited for the most part, to what is written in
Leona Montag's book, The Story of Mitchell County, the Mitchell County
Historical Society, County Libraries, plus records provided by the Court
House and Abstract Office. If you have information or pictures you could
share we would be grateful for helping our research.
Adding to the confusion in researching these Pioneer Cemeteries is “Local
Reference” names. To the point that one cemetery in Otranto Township
was researched to be known by five (5) different names since 1850 and
changed once again in 2002, none of which was the recorded name. Many
burials were known and recorded at the courthouse with different
cemetery names depending on what the local residents knew the cemetery
name was at the time. Many were never recorded with an official name or
Some Pioneer Cemeteries in the current southern most three miles of
Mitchell County may have been recorded in Floyd County before this 3
mile strip of land was acquired for Mitchell County. Unfortunately these
records may have been lost in the Floyd County Court House fire on
February 4, 1881 that destroyed all records in their courthouse.
If you are interested is assisting MCPCRP in any way, we could use your
expertise, please contact one of the Coordinators listed above or Neal Du
Shane to become involved in this extremely fun and worthwhile project.
HISTORICAL INFORMATION NEEDED
If you have information or photographs you can share we would
appreciate any information you have. Photographs or historical articles
will be documented, logged and returned to you within two weeks. Please
send donations and contributions to Neal Du Shane at the address listed
below. Please make checks out to Neal Du Shane Treasurer MCPCRP.
It’s like eating popcorn; once you start you will find it hard to stop!
April 27th, 2003 marked the opening of the MCPCRP website hosted by
Rootsweb.com. Thanks Rootsweb!