Members of the Anamosa FFA worked hard in the sun June 29 replacing the fence and repairing gravestones in one of the county’s pioneer cemeteries.
A few members of the group, alongside members of the Jones County Pioneer Cemetery Commission, worked to clean up the Cherry Grove/Mann Cemetery located in between Morley and Martelle.
Back in 1997, members of the Olin FFA had taken on a similar project, replacing the fence, doing weeding, uncovering old gravestones and footstones and general maintenance on the cemetery. One FFA member, Nick Balichek, even attended a workshop to learn about repairing gravestones and was named to the commission.
So, when the fence was in need of replacing once again, they reached out to a member of Anamosa’s FFA Chapter. Colton Borst said he was approached about the possibility of doing some work on the pioneer cemetery, and he was “all for” the idea.
“These people were someone,” he said. “Everybody deserves to have something when they’re gone.”
The Jones County Pioneer Cemetery Commission is in charge of upkeep at the county’s roughly 30 cemeteries that have achieved pioneer status, that is to say they’ve had twelve or fewer burials in the last 50 years. The Cherry Grove/Mann Cemetery is well within those parameters.
According to the cemetery’s webpage, on iowajones.org, there are 17 graves in the cemetery. The earliest burial is Susa Mann, who died back in 1838, and the final burial being Katie Mann, buried in 1891.
In the cemetery, a handful of those laid to rest there were children. Three buried there did not reach their first birthday and nearly half, eight to be exact, died before their 18th birthdays. The oldest person buried in the cemetery, Leonard Strichler, lived to be 98.
Over the course of the summer, the commission will be holding work dates at one pioneer cemetery every month. For information on their planned work days, head to their Facebook page by searching “Jones County Pioneer Cemetery Commission.”
For his part, Borst said he felt the day went well and didn’t rule out a similar project in the future.
“I wouldn’t be scared to do it again,” Borst said.