Moments Of Clarity In Old Cemeteries


It's not every day that I get to wander through cemeteries, but I get to do all kinds of fun and interesting things. I was updating a history trail guide earlier this week, and it led me through two historic cemeteries. Both had grave markers for people born in the 1700s, and that especially touched my heart for several reasons.


One of the cemeteries was for settlers who came to this part of Iowa in the late 1700s to early 1800s, and this is where their journey ended. What struck me hardest was when I learned that these more "recent" graves are on top of Indian burial mounds. The layers of history here really made me think about the people who have gone before us, that this is where they lived a small part of their life and this is where it ended. It's an incredibly peaceful place, set back from the noise and traffic everywhere else in our world.


In one of the oldest cemeteries west of the Mississippi River, I came across these children's markers. They were 3 years, 7 years, 1 year and almost 3 months old. These three families will be linked forever because of the death and mourning they dealt with together. I cannot imagine that pain, and I pray they knew the Lord and drew strength from their relationship with Him.


Our region of Iowa is steeped in Native American history. We live in Wapello County, named after Chief Wap-pelo, whose statue stands watch at the top of our courthouse. Farther east, Chief Blackhawk fought in the War of 1812 and the Blackhawks wars, and he is buried in the middle of a cemetery filled with settlers' graves. It is obvious by his memorial site that generations of people have come to pay their respects and leave a token behind. I would like to think that some are descendants coming to pay their respects, and maybe generations to come will visit here as well.


Some people may feel uncomfortable visiting a cemetery, but there are so many fascinating layers of history in them that are too good to be missed. Every person buried there has a story, a family, a testimony and a life lived between the dashes, just like you and me. God will fill our lives to overflowing with blessings and experiences, and we will want someone to tell our stories to the next generation so they can learn from what we've learned, too.

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