Wausau Cemeteries

The notes in italics are from the county coordinator, Shelley Green. Please e-mail me if you have questions.

Wausau Cemeteries

On 4/11/91, there was an article in the Wausau Daily Herald, about a skull that had been found at an excavation site at the corner of Grand Avenue and Thomas Street. This is currently the site of our Hammond Park. The article by Meg Jones, states in part:

"The skull was found on the site of Wausau's first cemetery, according to M. C. Historical Society Director Tom Schleif. The cemetery was built in the 1840's, shortly after the first sawmill was built in Wausau in 1839.

In 1881, a flood washed out several bodies buried at the cemetery. The coffins were plucked out of the river and reburied at Pine Grove Cemetery, Schleif said."

From an unknown newspaper source of 8/9/1922

The first burial place in Wausau was at the corner of First and Scott Streets, where the Wegner store is located. The corner of First and Washington streets where the library is, was at one time an Indian burying ground. There was another place of burial at 211 First Street. A cemetery started in the 50's just south and adjacent to Columbia park  (Shelley's note - I think this is the Hammond Park location referred to above) and in 1860, Judge W. H. Kennedy raised the money to purchase our present cemetery (note- this is Pine Grove) then forty acres. The first clearing was done by our citizens, and the women furnished the meals.

From Rib Mountain Echoes of 1967

Because all of this area was part of Portage County up to 1857, there are no real estate records at our Court House regarding our first cemetery. With the scant population at that time, it is obvious that on a very few were buried there.

Some time during the late 1840's a second cemetery was started at Grand Avenue and Strollers Lane. (note- this is the old name for Thomas St.)

With so much water in the area with only one outlet, the authorities realized the danger of the cemetery being washed away. In the late 1850's the Pine Grove Cemetery was established on forty acres of the Hinton property. More land has been added from time to time. Lot owners were notified to remove the bodies to Pine Grove Cemetery. When only some bodies had been moved a brush fire swept over the cemetery, burning all the wood markers. Now it was difficult to identify the graves. Stone markers were not available in our pre-railroad years.

The Civil War was raging and men were scarce. Cash to hire work done was even more scarce, so nothing could be done about the graves. That which had been feared happened. A cloudburst washed out a big ravine over one block long on the south end of Seymour Street, extending to Leubner Street on the other end. All the bodies that remained in the old cemetery were washed down the river.

(About Pine Grove from the same article)

The adult-size, white stone angel monument, close to Grand Avenue marks the grave of Lillie Berbaum. She was a victim of Typhoid fever after her twentieth birthday. Out of town relatives have painted the statue every summer.

A mausoleum, holding 304 crypts and five private family crypts, was erected in 1912. There are eight or nine private mausoleums on family lots.

In 1912, a new cemetery, Restlawn Memorial Park, was established to the north of Wausau. It has one private mausoleum for the Prehn family. (Note discrepancy in date of establishment - another article has the date as the 1930's. According to the Courthouse records, the cemetery was established in March of 1940. It is my personal opinion that the date is 1912 is wrong.)

This is from another article, copied from a book - source unknown.


Very little information is available on Wausau's first cemetery, reportedly located on low land near the intersection of Grand Avenue and Thomas Street. (Note- this is again the Hammond Park location). When the 1881 flood washed out coffins, bodies were moved to Pine Grove Cemetery. In later years the site was filled in and the grade raised for a bridge.

Forty acres of land for Pine Grove Cemetery were acquired in the late 1850's by Judge William Kennedy. It was designated 'Pine Grove" in 1904 when Neal Brown drew up the landscaping plan. Several structures in Pine Grove are notable for architectural interest. Built in 1912 are a medievally derived entrance gate and Egyptian Revival Mausoleum. (Note from Shelley - my grandfather's brother has 5 crypts within this mausoleum. Now it can only be entered with a key. As I am the last of my family descendants, a key is in my possession. The building has fallen on hard times - vandals have shot out the stained glass windows, and the roof is in disrepair. There are not enough descendants left alive to repair this building. The Cemetery Association is undertaking some of the repair.) Of unknown dating are a clapboard stick style and Gothic Revival Chapel and a couple of classically derived tombs.

St. Michael's Polish Cemetery, south of Pine Grove on Grand Ave., was first mentioned in 1891. The Jewish Cemetery across from Pine Grove had its first burial in January 1902, and the Restlawn Cemetery in the northern part of the city was created in the 1930s.

(Pine Grove has recently established a site on the Grand Avenue side, near the entrance to the cemetery, memorializing all the bodies that are buried there unmarked.  Most of them are from the Hammond Park area, which were reburied in Pine Grove Cemetery, but others are from unmarked graves from various locations.  There is a large stone, and benches in a circle around it, and it is a very attractive spot.)

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