Bourbon Sesquicentennial


Some of the Living History re-enactors were (left to right) Emily Wampler as Minnie Kelsey, Karen Marks as Lizzie Fribley Brillhart, and Marilyn and Loren Gochenour as Jennie and Chris Ringgenberg.

Rest In Peace

During the Sesquicentennial celebration, a unique activity is being offered in the form of a cemetery tour. Those taking part in the tour will visit different grave sites in the Parks / IOOF Cemetery and find local residents assuming the identity of the deceased. These impostors have studied the life and times of the person they will become for the day and will be chatting with passersby relating tidbits of Bourbon’s history as they lived it. It will be an interesting way of learning about the history of Bourbon and its people almost as if one were actually there in the bygone era of the deceased.

While most of us go there only on special occasions, Bourbon township has more cemeteries than most people realize; the larger ones being Parks / IOOF, in town, and Pleasant Hill, just north on State Road 331. Pleasant Hill was originally laid out by the Lucullus Lodge No. 233 Knights of Pythias and the "Pottowattomie" Tribe No. 16 of the Improved Order of Red Men. The original papers signed by Henry Steinebach, Sly Beals and Frederick Bertsch for the Red Men and Edward Brillhart, G. D. Ettinger and William Rudi for the K of P, specify that the cemetery is to be known as "Pleasant Hill".

The Bourbon Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows purchased land at the south end of Bourbon in 1877 for a burial ground. There are earlier stones there but they are actually re-interments of persons originally buried in the Parks / Ganshorn cemetery east of town. The Parks Memorial cemetery was laid out on the north side of the Odd Fellows cemetery in 1905. Here again, removals from the Parks / Ganshom cemetery might make it appear older than it really is.

Going back to the old Parks cemetery, it was known as the Ganshorn cemetery by some and as the Disher cemetery by others. It is located east of Bourbon on what was known locally

for many years as the Sam Byrers farm.. Access is by going back a lane on that farm. It is visible from U. S. 3 0 by looking south across the field to a little rise that is home to many of the town’s early pioneers. It is one of Bourbon’s earliest burial sites.

Another very early burying ground is located on 12B road to the west of Bourbon near the Industrial Park. Many of the old stones have been broken and removed and the jury is still out as to the proper name for this cemetery. It is on land once owned by James Parks. The earliest known stone is dated 1839.

The earliest stone at Mt. Pleasant is dated 1837. The cemetery is located northwest of Bourbon on 10th road between Gumwood and Fir roads and was often simply called the "Dunkard" cemetery. The Bourbon Mirror dated 12 July 1877, in an obituary for Mrs. Moses Berkeypile (niece of James Whitcomb Riley) refers to her burial in the White School House cemetery. The White School house stood on the southwest comer of the intersection west of the church many years ago. The oldest section of the cemetery lies on the north side of the road. South of Mt. Pleasant Church will be found the newer portion of the cemetery which is still active.

Northeast of Bourbon is the location of the Sandridge cemetery, sometimes referred to as the Foster Chapel cemetery taking the name of the former church located on the south side of the road. The earliest stone in Sandridge is dated 1889. This cemetery has a large number of veterans buried there.

On the grounds of the St. Paul's church at the SW comer of 9B and Cedar roads, some years ago, there were only two tombstones just barely visible on the lawn. It is assumed that there were other burials on the grounds but the number and location, at this point, is nowhere on record. The two known burials were Henry Miner and John S. Tharp. The epitaph on Henry's grave read, "There is rest in Heaven, Henry Miner died Sept. 11, 1864 aged 75 years and 27 days; A life long Democrat; A soldier of 1812; A Union man and supporter of Lincoln." The cemetery appears on an 1880 map before a church was built on that comer. A news item refers to a burial in the "Bowen" cemetery, 4 miles north of Bourbon -- is it possible that this could be that cemetery or was Bowen another long forgotten family cemetery?

In addition to the known cemeteries, there are also other burial sites which were used for family cemeteries for the Hedrick family, the Phillips family and the Baylor cemetery.

Captain John C. Hedrick, a veteran of the Mexican war, buried some of his family near the "Living Spring" on land which is now owned by the town of Bourbon just south of the John Border farm. Some of the stones that were removed from this family cemetery are rumored to have been moved to the Salem cemetery on 12B road near Hawthorn in Center township or are in the care of private individuals.

The Phillips family cemetery is believed to have been located on what is now the Lester Williamson farm at the end of 14th road west of Beech. There are 7 known names of this family buried there and rumors of possibly more. The cemetery was gone when Williamson bought the farm in 1965, but Clara Guy had told him that there was a cemetery there at one time. Merle Sponseller, who lived on the property before 1965 remembers picking up a grave stone out in the field and leaning it against the barn. When the barn burned, it is assumed that the stone was buried with the debris from the fire. A tragic tale accompanies one of the burials there. William Phillips met his death in 1883 when he fell into a large circular saw at the Senour sawmill, two miles east of Center. His body was severed almost completely and he died instantly. He was young, 26 years old, and lacked just a few days of being married one year, leaving a wife and infant child.

The Baylor cemetery is mentioned in the 1890 history of Marshall Co. as being located 1 mile west of Bourbon. It is believed to have been located on the NE comer of 12B and Elm roads. It was gone sometime before 1910 when its existence was only passed along by word of mouth. Henry Huffman’s father (originally spelled Houghman) was the first to be buried there. Henry's wife was a Baylor. George Baylor, who had the Buckhorn Tavem somewhere in that area, and Henry Huffman both have stones in the Salem cemetery a few miles further west. Were these stones moved from other grave sites also? Wouldn’t it be nice if our long gone ancestors could imitate our Sesquicentennial Cemetery Tour and come back for a day just to answer all of our questions?

Judy McCollough for the Sesquicentennial History Committee


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