Healing Stuart

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

Stumbling Upon Stuart

I discovered Stuart Cemetery through my relationship to the Find-A-Grave web site.

I have been a photo volunteer for Find-A-Grave for over a year, receiving emails with photo requests, going to cemeteries, taking pictures and posting them to the site.

I received several requests for a Stuart cemetery in Polk County, Iowa, where I reside. I was unfamiliar with the name, so I check its location with the map associated with the cemetery on Find-A-Grave. I discovered it was on the southeast side of the county, in or near Pleasant   Hill. I jotted down some reference points and headed out camera in hand.

I made my way over to what turned out to be a rural road running along one side of the cemetery; driving right by it. I went back and parked next to the road in front of the StuartCemetery sign. I wasn’t expecting the sign because the IAGenWeb page for the cemetery said there wasn’t one. (IAGenWeb has since removed the statement about the sign and one of my photos appears on the page.) I grabbed my list of requested photos, camera, and decaf green iced tea before heading up the slight slope following the tire tracks (more trace than trail or road) dividing the cemetery into two roughly equal parts; north and south.

The cemetery appeared to be a mix of older and newer stones with the oldest in the row nearest the road in both the north and south sections. I started walking rows in the north section, checking names as I went. I found one or two of the names on my list and took several pictures. As I worked my way through the rest of the cemetery I found several more – something I’ve come to expect when walking a cemetery for the first time.

What I didn’t expect was the pull this small, rural cemetery would have on me. What was it about this quiet resting place of a couple of hundred people that had me coming back again and again even when the initial photo requests were fulfilled?

That first sunny afternoon was just the beginning of a continuing quest to Heal Stuart.