Rienzi Cemetery
Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin

Rienzi Old Grounds 1865 info.

2003 project - new tombstones for unmarked veterans

Rienzi Cemetery, in Section 18 of the Township of Empire in Fond du Lac county was set off from land owned by Abby Tallmadge, wife of Nathaniel Potter Tallmadge, territorial governor of Wisconsin. The arrival of the family in 1844 was soon saddened by the death of the second son, William Davis Tallmadge. He had just graduated from Union College and was about to return to New York to enter a law firm, when he came west to look over the new home. He admired the farm and remarked that when he died he would like to be buried on a certain hill.

Two weeks later he died and was buried on the hill. His stone reads "The first to lie beneath these sacred oaks". Governor and Mrs. Tallmadge then set aside part of their farm that the community might have a public burying ground.

Rienzi Cemetery has many old tombstones in various stages of deterioration, but the most notable are the oldest stones in the cemetery - those of the founders, the Tallmadge family. Many Tallmadge tombstones, including that of Gov. Tallmadge, had fallen over, and were laying in the grass.

In July and August of 1998, the restoration of the deteriorating tombstones was begun. beginning with tombstones in the Tallmadge family plot. Foundations were shored up and leveled, and many stones were simply placed back on their foundations. Some tombstones, including that of Gov. Tallmadge, had a new concrete footing poured, to replace the old. These stones were then cleaned and disinfected to slow the deterioration process. The stones that had been laying in the grass, will be allowed to air out for a year, before they will be sealed to prevent further deterioration.

One of the most exciting discoveries was a large monument column that had fallen off and lay buried next to one old tombstone. The column was dug out and re-installed on top of the monument, restoring it to it's original formation.

Other monuments are restored to "almost new" appearance simply by using a power washer to clean off the accumulation of lichen that has grown on the stone. The stone is then bleached, to kill any remaining lichen and prevent its regrowth.

The restoration of old monuments is time consuming, and the cost of bleach, and monument adhesive puddy etc. adds up quickly in the older sections. If you wouuld like to assist them in their efforts to restore old Rienzi tombstones, please contact Rienzi Cemetery, N6101 Highway K, Fond du Lac WI 54935 (920-922-4543) Financial assistance would be appreciated.

last modified:
01 Jan 2009
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If you have corrections or additions to share, please contact Tracy Reinhardt by email at fondygenie@gmail.com

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** Ruth Shaw Worthing, The History of Fond du Lac County, as told by its Place-Names, 1976.
** The History of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Western Historical Company, 1880.

** Portrait and Biographical Album of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, Chicago: Acme Publishing Company, 1889.
** A. T. Glaze, Incidents and Anecdotes of Early Days and History of Business in the City and County of Fond du Lac from Early Times to the Present, Fond du Lac: P. B. Haber Printing Company, 1905.
** Maurice McKenna, ed., History of Fond du Lac County, Chicago: S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1912. 
** Wisconsin Volunteers: War of the Rebellion 1861-1865 
** Plat Book of Fond du Lac County, Wisconsin, C. M. Foote & Co.  1893