Saturday, July 22, 2017

Rochester Cemetery

The Rochester Cemetery near Tipton, Iowa is a controversial topic. As a part of our Underground Railroad history bus tour -- we went to the cemetery to see 14 acres of original Prairie grass...

From an Iowa DOT page:  It would be hard to find 14 acres of Iowa land that mean as many different things to different people as the Rochester Cemetery. Depending on who you talk to, this township burial site is: A disgrace, a shamefully neglected tangle of brush growing over ancestral graves, obscuring and sometimes damaging the stones. 

A visual wonder, putting on a dazzling annual display of wildflowers that draws a steady stream of visitors. People come from miles around each Mother’s Day to marvel at the cemetery’s dense carpet of shooting stars, one of the prettiest of prairie plants with its explosive rosette of half a dozen blooms turning their faces downward, their petals thrown back upward like the blazing trail of the heavenly body from which they get their name. 

A historic site where visitors can see the graves of some of the earliest settlers in the area, dating back to the 1830s. According to local lore, the mother of the Divine Sarah Bernhardt, the fiery French stage actress of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is buried here. 

A rare and precious patch of native Iowa prairie, one of the last and most spectacular living remnants of the vast, variegated prairie that once carpeted the state, of which now less than one-tenth of 1 percent remains....
Karen Anderson has a WEALTH OF KNOWLEDGE about all-things-Iowa-History.
Apparently, this is what real prairie grass looks like...and there are 14 acres of it in this cemetery.
Lots of people think it should all be cut and a normal cemetery...
I was trying to pay attention -- but got way-laid by a GIGANTIC CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE!!
I had no idea this place even existed -- and it's only about 30 minutes from my house.
I thought it would be disrespectful to take pictures of the grave stones.  I understand that real people are buried there.

As I walked around on that beautiful summer afternoon, I read the markers and wondered about their lives.  Who they were, what they did, where they lived, how they died, and why were they buried here.  Who did they leave behind..?

Every cemetery in the world is full of people who lived...and every one of them had a story...

Again, on that day, in that place, I had a Hamilton lyric playing in my head.

The last song in Hamilton is "Who tells your story?"

Who lives, who dies, 
who tells your story?

When you’re gone, who remembers your name?
Who keeps your flame?



  1. The links you posted don't seem to be working.

  2. Dear Unknown...thanks for telling me...I went back to the PDF and pulled the quote instead.