Cherry County NEGenWeb
Project © 2000-2011
No unauthorized commercial use
may be made of this material
© 2000-2011 DJH
From Hiway 83 south of Valentine, turn west on 16B and go to end of pavement
and than go 4 miles further west. You will than see the cemetery. You can
also go south of Valentine on Hiway 97 to where it joins 16B and than go
1/2 mile east.
Section 27, Range 30, Township 30.
Kennedy Cemetery and All Saints Church
Tradition assumes many forms in the sparsely settled Sandhills.
Some names survive more than a century, long after the namesake
The Kennedy Community, for example, derived its name from one of
the earliest settlers to file a homestead some 40 miles southwest
B.E.B. Kennedy, former mayor of Omaha, came to file a homestead
shortly after a friend, Captain David Piercy, filed his in 1883.
Piercy, a veteran of the Union Army, applied for a post office
and submitted the name, Piercy, which was rejected. Kennedy was
accepted and the Kennedy Post Office opened May 8, 1886 with
Piercy as postmaster.
For several years postal patrons in the heart of the county
traveled 20 to 40 miles for their mail at Kennedy because,
at the time, other post offices were located along the northern
edge of the huge county.
In 1889 Cyrus King, who carried the mail with team and wagon
from Valentine once a week, approached Rev. J.M.Bates, who had
recently arrived to serve the Episcopal Church. He asked that
Rev. Bates travel to Kennedy for church services.
Rev. Bates traveled the distance in September when the summer heat
had passed. The first service, with 27 in attendance, was held in
William and Margaret Erickson's home made of part sod, part lumber.
One family made the trip in several hours with two oxen and open
range cowboys came wearing spurs.
Scheduled services were held in different homes for several years
until "the settlers built a sod church on a grassy knoll with a
burying ground all around near the Kennedy Post Office and the
Piercy's home," according to Erickson family papers. The sod
structure measured 24 by 19 feet. It was named All Saints Church
and dedicated on All Saint's Day.
Gray plaster covered the inside walls and the altar made of sod.
Furnishings included a beautiful red cloth on the altar, crude benches
and a baby Mason and Hamlin organ that came from Vermont.
David Piercy's daughter, Nellie, was married at the church in 1892.
There were three burials at the cemetery in 1892, all relatives of
Mrs. William Erickson. Mary King, only 31 years, died in childbirth
with her baby, Bessie. That same year Mary's 5-year-old son, Gilbert,
was dragged to death by a horse.
The next year Matilda Wallingford, mother of 13 children, died at 58
years and was buried on the sandy knoll that rises abruptly from the
The Wallingfords operated a sawmill to the north along the Snake River.
Caroline Nye, wife of pioneer bridge builder for Canton Ohio Bridge Co.
and rancher John Nye, died at 66 years in 1899 and was buried in the
churchyard. Her daughter Lida had married John Bachelor, a partner in
the Nye Ranch before Bachelor moved his cattle operation to the Boardman
Creek in the Kennedy Community.
After a time a frame church replaced the sod structure. Confirmations,
baptisms and burials continued for a few years until most of the settlers,
unable to make a living on the barren prairie, moved on leaving only a few
The church building was sold, but its influence remained.
Through the years crude markers became difficult to read
or may have disintegrated leaving some graves unmarked.
In 1959 Horace Wallingford, whose mother is buried there,
commissioned a stone to be erected. An inscription reads:
"Kennedy Cemetery In memory of our pioneer dead."
Seven names and their dates are chiseled into the stone:
Matilda Wallingford, 1835-1899; Caroline R. Nye, 1833-1899;
Mary E. King 1861-1892; Bessie King, 1892-1892; Gilbert
King, 1887-1892; Edna Gee, 1894-1894; and Josephine
Sedlacek, age 15. "Five graves unknown," was noted at the
As curator of the Cherry County Historical Museum during
the early 1980s, Ruthie Harms researched old newspapers
and church records to find burials recorded there that were
not included on the stone.
After years without activity, a new stone marker was erected
in 1999 along side the memorial stone.
Dwain Hamit, the son of Charlie and Edna Hollers Hamit, spent
his youth a few miles south of the cemetery on Lone Tree Lake.
Although he moved to Oregon, his instructions were to be
cremated, the ashes placed in a blue fruit jar and buried at
the Kennedy Cemetery.
On October 7, 1998, Hamit suffered a fatal fall while sawing limbs
from a pine tree. His wife made arrangements for a stone to be
erected and traveled to the Kennedy Community in June 1999 to
fulfill Dwain's wishes. Possibly the ornate oak box used for burial
contained ashes in a blue fruit jar.
Nearly 50 relatives, friends and neighbors gathered on the grassy
knoll for the ceremony.
Sweet peas, penstomen and spiderwort were in bloom throughout the
cemetery that overlooks a broad expanse of subirrigated meadow.
A sturdy barbed wire fence deny entrance by cattle. A pine and
cedar tree shelterbelt planted by Capt. Piercy's son, W.W. Piercy,
provides a towering backdrop, shelter from the wind and privacy
from a county road a short distance to the north.
In recent years Gordon G. and Sheila McLeod researched and marked
the graves of two infants who died of scarlet fever after the turn
of the century and were buried near their homes.
The post office was moved a quarter mile northeast from the cemetery
where Bill and Nancy Kennedy operated the office from 1906-1911.
The Kennedys moved farther west to Chesterfield where Nancy was
postmaster from 1913-1923.
Gordon's grandmother, Sarah McLeod became Kennedy postmaster in
December,1911. Gordon, who now lives at that location, said his
father, Gilmore McLeod, was asked to dig the grave, possibly in
1909, for little Jane Ellen Kennedy, the infant granddaughter of
Following research the McLeods erected a marker in the yard behind
their home for the Kennedy child and helped Garrett Swanson mark and
fence the burial spot of Johnny Erickson, the infant son of William
and Margaret Erickson. The Erickson homestead was more than two miles
west of the Kennedy Cemetery and now is part of the Swanson ranch.
Why the infants weren't buried in the cemetery remains a mystery.
Could it be there was some stigma associated with a highly contagious
disease that took so many children at that time in our history?
Contributed and written by Marianne Beel, local writer and historian.
|NAME ||BIRTH || DEATH ||PLACE BORN|
|5 graves unknown ||No dates|
|Aljoe, William ||05-01-1891 ||04-17-1891|
|Beale, Twin (Son of Johnny)|| 03-06-1891 |
|Beale, John Infant twin ||03-06-1891||03-13-1891|
|Ellis, Joseph A. ||1841||04-23-1892|
|Gee, Edna B.(3 days)||1894 ||12-17-1894|
|Hamit, Dwain William ||07-03-1940 ||10-07-1998 |
|Kenyon, W.H.(2 yr old son)||1886||1888|
|King, Bessie Helen(7 months) ||1892 ||1892|
|King, Nathan Gilbert ||1887 ||08-22-1892|
|King, Mary Elizabeth ||1861 ||06-18-1892|
|Ksert, Bo || ||12-1911|
|Latta, George Lincoln ||1863||04-02-1893|
|Latta, Rosene ||02-01-1901 ||02-18-1901|
|Lucas, Gaines||06-12-1941||01-09-2002||Newcastle, Ind|
|McCain, Peter ||1851 ||04-07-1895|
|Montgomery, Hart ||1818 ||06-19-1901|
|Nye, Caroline Rebecca Brandt(wife of John Edward Nye)|| ||1833 ||05-10-1900||Ohio|
|Sedlacek, Josephine ||1886 ||10-02-1897|
|Spoer, Viola || ||04-10-1912|
|Wallingford, Matilda Gray(wife of Andrew Walingford) ||1835 || 1893|
It was the custom to bury stillborn babies and babies that died shortly
after birth in the yard of the homestead if no cemetery was close by.
Than, lilacs, bouncing betty, or some type of hardy flower or bush would be
planted on the little grave.
We apologize for any errors in reading or transcribing of information.
For corrections, please contact the Cherry County Coordinator. Information
on births and deaths donated by Ruth Harms who walked the cemetery in
1974. Story written by Marianne Beel, local area writer and neighbor..
Return to the Cemeteries List