Rev. Timothy Ball, pioneer historian, wrote the following in 1872: "The manner of disposing of the bodies of the dead marks the kind of civilization which a nation has attained." The bodies of the early settlers of this area were buried as securely as possible, within the earth, in cemeteries scattered throughout the three townships.
In the early 1830's when the first pioneers ventured into southern Lake County, many of the early families buried their loved ones in family plots near their home. Later, when churches and communities were organized, public burial grounds were used.
In the 1950's a survey was made of the cemeteries in the area by members of Julia Watkins Brass Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and all legible stones were listed. This is a very valuable collection of references and was used in compiling this story.
Wilkinson Burial Ground
One of those small family graveyards was called by historian Ball "The old burial ground near the Wilkinson Place," northwest of Lowell, west of U.S. 41. Rev. Ball saw six stones, and the survey shows three legible markers, three boulders, and a broken stone. When last seen by the Old Timer, it was covered with brush.
Belshaw Family Graveyard
In 1872 the land was owned by S.R. Tarr, and the cemetery was located on a small knoll in front of the old Belshaw homestead near the present village of Belshaw. In 1894, James Brannon, a relative, purchased the property with the understanding that the graves be moved. In 1895 Bert and Charles Belshaw moved the graves to the Sanders Cemetery and to West Creek Cemetery.
The McCarty family burial ground near Creston can no longer be seen, since the stones have disappeared and the earth has been plowed. It was a half mile south of Creston, west of the Cedar Lake Rd., and contained remains of the McCarty and Young families, with burials from 1849 to 1853.
This long neglected small burial ground was near Creston Rd., and five burials were listed for the Thompson and the Vinnedge families of the 1850's.
This was another small plot near the village of Creston, on the Cutler Farm, with three known burials, including family names of Warriner and Taylor, but no dates were available.
Ball wrote in 1872 that this was a well-protected plot, but not dedicated to the public, but since that time the site was deeded to West Creek Township by the Sanders Family, pioneers of 1841. A marker there reads: "William Sanders, Emma Harris Sanders, Pioneers who Settled this Section built the first Cemetery to the Township. Centennial Marker 1841-1941 Erected by The Sanders Clan." This well-cared for burial ground was the site of Pine Grove Church, now moved to the east, and was used as a residence on what is now 205th Ave. Graves there are dated from the 1840's.
Ball wrote in 1872: "A very retired, quiet resting place over West Creek on the Fuller place, where the dead of that neighborhood have been buried." This well-care-for burial ground is on a high knoll with a background of trees and bushes following the line of the creek below. Burials here began in the 1850's.
Pioneer Cemetery at Creston
During the Fourth of July weekend, the Cedar Lake Historical Assn. sponsored a historical bus tour of the area, which included a stop at the old cemetery near the pioneer church at Creston. The Old Timer had the privilege of being the tour guide this year, and showed the old burial ground, with the grave of LaRosa Taylor Surprise (1801-1876), wife of early pioneer Peter Surprise, and the only known Indian to be buried in Lake County. Historian Timothy Ball is honored there with a large stone, though he is buried in Alabama near the home of his daughter. Many pioneer Cedar Lake and Creston family graves are there, including those of 12 Civil War veterans, among them the only woman listed on the Three Creeks Monument in downtown Lowell -- Abbie Ellen Cutler, Civil War nurse. There is a veteran of the War of 1812, and one from the Spanish American War of 1898. Many stones are marked with the surnames of Taylor and Vinnedge, one having the date of 1846.
South East Grove Cemetery
Ball wrote the following in 1872 that South East Grove "is near the school house, near where a church should be built; is fenced and deeded. It contains one of the finest gray marble monuments in the county, erected to the memory of Otto F. Benjamin, a very promising young man who died suddenly at the school house where he was teaching in 1871. Only two burials up to the year 1843." A Cemetery Society was formed in 1850 to manage the plot. Many of the Grove's pioneers lay at rest here in one of the prettiest areas of the county. Ball's wish did come true, in part, for the old school house across the road was also used for church services.
West Creek Cemetery
Called "The Hayden Burial Place" by Ball, it is a well-kept cemetery on State Rd. 2, west of U.S. 41. When the survey was made in 1956, it listed 55 stones with the Hayden surname near the site of the pioneer Methodist Church. Remains from "The Old Methodist Burial Ground" nearby were moved here, as well as some from the Belshaw family plot. A large stone marks the grave of the founder of Lowell, Melvin Halsted, and that of his first wife, Martha Foster Halsted. He farmed in West Creek Township for a few years before coming to Lowell in 1848. Stones marked as early as 1839 (The Haydens came in 1837) can be seen over the graves of the West Creek Pioneers.
Lake Prairie Cemetery
Situated on a hill at the corner of U.S. 41 and the north junction of State Rd. 2, this well-kept cemetery is on land originally owned by the Morey Family. The DAR listed 202 named graves and 24 illegible or unmarked stones. The graves of the early settlers of the "Yankee Settlement" of the lake community are looked after by the West Creek Trustee.
Orchard Grove Cemetery
It is near the east junction of SR 2 and SR 55, on a rolling hill, and is well cared for. An old map shows Belshaw Rd. along the north edge of the burial ground, ending at SR 55. Back in 1872 Ball noted that it was a well kept spot. One stone was found with the burial date of 1837, the year Lake County began.
Plum Grove Cemetery
This neat little graveyard in Eagle Creek Township is east of Orchard Grove, and is well maintained. Resting there are the remains of the early settlers of that community, and of the old village of Dinwiddie, now the intersection of I-65 and SR 2. We found stones from as early as 1847.
Pleasant Grove Cemetery - Lowell Cemetery
The early pioneer community of Pleasant Grove, was near the south end of Lake Dalecarlia and east of the 'four corners' where the Jones school building still stands (now D.C.'s Country Junction). It was settled by the Bryant family in 1834, and named by one of the family members. Several history books mention burials at the "Pleasant Grove Cemetery," and on many trips to the Lowell Cemetery, the Old Timer noticed the same names and dates on stones in the old part near the highway.
Later, much to his surprise, he read the following notation in the DAR Survey of 1956: "We believed that the area is that spoken for by Timothy Ball in his book Lake County 1834-1872 as Pleasant Grove.
This conclusion is based on the fact that many of the earlier settlers of which he speaks as having been buried in Pleasant Grove or residing there are to be found in this cemetery (Lowell). The cemetery covers an area approximately ten acres and included an "almost completely abandoned mausoleum" (1956).
The old mausoleum, built soon after 1900, was at the corner of the main cemetery road and looked very much like a church . Records show that the first burial in the building was in 1905, the last in 1952. When the building was demolished near the site of the structure, and a few were moved to family plots in the Lowell Cemetery or others.
Many of the Pleasant Grove pioneers are buried at the Lowell Cemetery, including a long list of the 1834 Bryant Family. A "new" addition was added to the Lowell Cemetery in 1907, to the north and to the west. The road along the south and west edge of the graveyard once was the old state road, called "Harding Highway," and was part of the race track for the 1909 Cobe Trophy Race, the forerunner of the Indianaplois 500.
St. Edward Cemetery
It is on 177th Ave., near Castlebrook subdivision and Burr St. Years ago it was bordered by large pine trees, and was a very secluded place, but it is now bounded on two sides by modern subdivisions. The original plot was purchased for 150 dollars in 1865 on what was called North Ave. The DAR records show that the graveyard was adjacent to the church, but this is not true, for St. Edwards Church was on Burnham Ave. at the present site of Lowell Healthcare Center. Edward Warren Russell (1824-1903), builder of the first St. Edward Catholic Church in 1870, is buried there. The first recorded burial was in 1882.
Rev. Timothy Ball was looking into the future when he wrote the following in 1872: "When, one hundred years hence, Lake County having become densely populated, a large suburban town having spread out for miles around the present growing village, there will be no ancient quiet churchyards into which observing travelers, and meditative poets, and studious antiquarians may enter and find the resting places of the noted ones of this generation, unless we change the present custom, and the prevailing popular taste." He was lamenting the moving of the early cemeteries that was taking place at the time. He said: "Let the generations of the future see the very places where our bodies are moldering to the dust."
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