Healing Stuart

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

A Trip to The IGS

I continued to walk Stuart over the next few days, but felt increasingly hampered in identifying many of the headstones I documented. I decided it was time to find additional help. I gifted myself with an annual membership to the Iowa Genealogical Society (IGS) then headed over to see if they had any records for Stuart Cemetery.

 The IGS is located at 628 E. Grand Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa. Their resources reside in a Tardis-like office; seemingly bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. When you enter you find yourself surrounded by bookshelves chock-full of books and other resources you could happily lose yourself in for hours and hours.

 Thanks to help of one of IGS’s wonderful volunteers, I located cemetery records for Polk County including Stuart Cemetery. Not the plat book, but a record of someone who walked Stuart  the past before so many of the gravestones went missing or were broken. I felt as if had found the Holy Grail! Armed with photocopies of the cemetery record, I headed home to compare them to my notes.

 I am indebted to the unnamed person who provided IGS with is record of Stuart Cemetery. It includes a short description and history.

 Stuart Cemetery is located in Section 13 of Four Mile Township. The land was given by David Stuart, who settled in Polk County in 1847. He deeded the land to the township with the understanding that anyone could be buried there without charge. Four Mile Township continues to maintain the cemetery.

Four Mile Township With Seciton 13 Circled in Red

Following the cemetery description is an explanation about the absence of the plat map and that the map supplied with the record is “only a drawing showing the cemetery as it is shaped and the location.”

 When my anonymous benefactor walked Stuart  she or he labeled the first row in both sections as the one at the back cemetery closest to the fence. I found this interesting as the lion’s share of the older stones are at the rows closest to the SE 78th Street. Newer interments tend to be toward the back of the cemetery. According to my contact at IAGenWeb, deciding where label the first row is a personal decision when walking a cemetery. What is more important is being consistent in how you record the stones.

The records from the previous Stuart walker would allow me to fill in the gaps in my own.


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