A Forgotten Cemetery - Herring, Iowa

From: The Chronicle, Volume 111, Number 23,  page 2, June 6, 2002, Odebolt, IA

A Forgotten Cemetery

The "Herring Cemetery" or "Tom Marks" Cemetery

Nestled on a hill southwest of Wall Lake (IA) on county road M55 is a cemetery that most people would never have guessed is there.  The cemetery is not visible from the road as you pass by on the north, but you might catch a glimpse of it as you approach it from the south before the road curves to the east.

The cemetery is often called the Herring Cemetery because of its proximity to the town that vanished from the maps early in the century.  It's also called by some, the Tom Marks Cemetery, though not because he's buried there.  He farmed the territory around the cemetery for many years.

The cemetery hasn't had a person buried there since 1937.  According to Janice Larsen, a member of the Sac County Genealogy Society, no one is certain how many people are buried there.  In the early 1980's, the organization wrote down all the names from the headstones they were able to find, with 18 names showing up.  Larsen said there may be more people buried there, but there are no other records to search.

The earliest date that someone was buried in the cemetery was 1874, belonging to a woman named Jane Bartley.  Other names that appeared on headstones include some that are still familiar to Sac County residents, such as Werkmeister, Schade, Roth, Schwanz, Gonnerman, Holt and Stueckrath.

A new sign post has been placed at the cemetery, built by Jerry Volkert of Sac City, that lists all the names of the people who are bureid there, along with their year of birth and death.  Volkert and Ed Leahy of Sac City recently placed the sign post, which is protected from the elements to preserve the names.

Larsen said the cemetery had fallen into disrepair, with many of the headstones knocked over or falling apart.  The cemetery suffered from years of neglect, becoming overgrown with grass, making it hard to find the headstones.  Recently, a 4-H group took on the project of cleaning up the cemetery, and even received a grant to replace the fence around the cemetery.

There are two more of the so-called "pioneer cemeteries" in Sac County, said Larson.  They include the Protestant Union Cemetery by Early, and the Chase Cemetery by Schaller.  The cemeteries are often forgotten because they have not been used in recent times, but they still hold valuable parts of the local history, she said.


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