1233 Beechdale Ct.
Deltona, FL 32725-3774
Tel: 386 / 532-6224E-Mail: PriceCemetery@juno.com
Eden Township Trustees and August 24, 2001
Marshall County Board of Supervisors
I am again appealing to Eden Township and Marshall County government to take immediate action to preserve and protect the Price Cemetery located in Eden Township 1-1/2 miles north of the town of Rhodes.
This cemetery is very old, the first burial being in 1861, and long neglected. The people buried there include the very first settlers of Edenville and Eden Township. There are around 20 headstones still readable and, I'm sure, many more graves to be found.
The cemetery was deeded to the trustees in 1876. The deed has never been transferred and those trustees have likely been dead for nearly 100 years. The cemetery was not connected with any church nor was it a private cemetery.
Although I no longer reside in the township my roots are here and my ancestor, Justus Richmond, is buried in that cemetery. That gives me a little more incentive to get some action to clean up and protect the cemetery but only a little. It is legally and morally right that we protect this cemetery. In only 10 years it will become a state archaeological site. At the rate it is deteriorating, however, there will be very little left by 2011.
I include the reply I received from the Eden Township Trustees in response to my last appeal. I believe that it has several errors.
1) The statement that "we do not tax for this cemetery" is, I believe, incorrect. The budget for the trustees includes a line for "non-owned" cemeteries. I believe that the Ball/Day Cemetery is being maintained from that source of funds. How is the Price Cemetery any different? Why do the folks at the Ball/Day Cemetery or the ones buried in the Eden Cemetery deserve any more protection and respect than those at the Price Cemetery? There are only four cemeteries in the township. St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery is maintained by the church members and the Eden Cemetery is an "owned" cemetery. That leaves the Ball/Day and the Price Cemeteries to be maintained from the "non-owned" money (Iowa Code 359.33 & 359.35). I note that the entire amount allotted on this budget line is not being used.
2) The statement that "inactive and neglected cemeteries are under the protection of the county supervisors" is also incorrect, or may be, depending upon the type cemetery you consider the Price Cemetery to be. If it is considered to be a "non owned" cemetery it is the Trustee's responsibility. It is, by definition, a "Pioneer Cemetery" as described in Iowa Code: 331.325 and is the responsibility of the Board of Supervisors.
It is clear in the Iowa Code that the legislature intended to provide protection for just this type of cemetery. If it were being maintained by a private group, a church, or the trustees it would not require this protection.
In order to show that I am not the only person who is concerned with the condition of this cemetery I have circulated a petition. It presently has 60 signatures. Among the signers are 1) the mayor of Rhodes, 2) several council members 3) one of the present owners of the surrounding land 4) several of the oldest and most respected citizens of the township. Not a single person who I have approached disagreed with the proposition or refused to sign. Given time I'm sure I could get 90% of the citizens, at least, to sign. Sixty signatures should be enough to assure you that this is a good idea, politically popular with the citizens. As a matter of fact one might say that you have a mandate to protect this cemetery.
I am not asking that you turn the Price Cemetery into another "Forest Lawn." It needs the basics however. Survey the cemetery and have a fence erected. The past land owner removed the fence to allow his cattle to "clean up" the cemetery. Perhaps he could be induced to put the fence back up after the survey is made. At any rate, depending upon how the current law is interpreted, the cattle in that pasture would escape onto the road if the fence fronting the cemetery was removed. It may, therefore, be the farmer's responsibility to put up a fence to keep his cattle off the cemetery and off the road.
Please take the action that the citizens clearly want and the action that is morally required to protect the final resting place of these pioneer citizens of your district. They have every right to expect that you will.
I have started a donation drive to purchase a memorial stone which would have the name of the cemetery and of all the people we know to be buried there. When the cemetery has been fenced and cleaned up I will concentrate on raising enough money to have this memorial erected.
Gerald L. Hale
c/o Ms. Vicki Eldridge
504 Butler Avenue
Melbourne, IA 50126
Tel: 641 / 482-3243
1) Each Supervisor & Trustee
2) Mid-Iowa Enterprise
3) Marshalltown Times-Republican
4) State Association for the Preservation of Iowa
5) Office of the State of Iowa Archaeologist
6) State Historic Preservation Office
7) Web site: http://www.pricecemetery.org