Healing Stuart

Discovering & Restoring Stuart Cemetery, Four Mile Township, Polk County, IA

More Scabs, Wounds and Scars

  For the  most part headstones in the south section are in better shape than those in the north section. The north section has fewer of the soft limestone headstones than in the north section.  This did not mean, however, there were no condition problems in this section.

As I worked row by row from the back of the section toward the road the stones looked to be in good condition until I reached tenth row.  The first four stones were small grayish ones all of which were Stuarts. I was not familiar with this type of stone. Something else was odd. All four of the stones had areas of the inscription that looked like they had been eaten away. I took pictures and made notes. Ultimately, i had to confirm names as well as birth and death dates through the Iowa WPA 1930’s Grave Registration Project information for Polk County, Iowa. From left to right the stones were : Oval Stuart 1875-1877, Nettie Stuart 1877-1878, Brice Stuart 1855-1883, and Harvey Stuart 1883-1884.

The Upside Down Stone

In the next row I found a huge clump of daylily leaves. Suspecting there was more I began pushing leaves  aside. To my surprise I found not one, but three headstones; the biggest was near the middle. It appeared to  have fallen  off  or was  pushed off its base and had landed upside down. I attempted to keep the leaves away from the stone with one hand  and to take  a picture of the stone with the other, which proved to be no mean feat. Later, after I had downloaded the picture and flipped it until it was right side up, I was able to confirm it was the headstone for James and Ida Deaton.

To the left of James and Ida’s stone was a footstone “Father” and to the right was the footstone “Mother.”

To the left of the “Father” foot stone I found a small stone close to the ground. With great difficulty I was able to  juggle parting the leaves with snapping a shot of it. I was able to capture just a small section of it.  It was enough to see the letter “N” next to the word “of.” Underneath that was a portion of the next line “& Ida.” The visible portion of the next line was the surname “Deaton” minus the “D.” Under that was part of a date “12, 1892; apparently a birth date. A death date may be below. I deduced this was the grave of an infant son of James and Ida Deaton, for which I had no previous record,  because the word “Infant” was carved on the top of the stone.

To the left of Infant Son Deaton, at the edge of the clump of daylilies, I found the grave for the infant daughters of James & Ida. According to their memorial on Find-A-Grave, they were twin girls who were born and died on June 22, 1882. I wasn’t able to get a picture that day. I will need to lie on my back and sho0t the picture of the metal headstone upside down. The ground under the headstone has settled. Although the headstone had been anchored in a small slab of concrete, it’s leaning so far forward its top nearly touches the ground. I was able to take this photo of the back of the stone.

But I was to discover the worst one in the next row; the one that would break my heart.

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