16 November 2009

Madness/Methodology Monday - Lost Burials

In June I visited Riverview Cemetery, which is owned and operated by the city of Rock Rapids in Lyon County, Iowa. I know Alonzo John (hereafter A.J.) and Mary Rutter are buried there because their names are on online indexes of the cemetery. Both of their obituaries also state that they were buried in this cemetery. I know that daughter Nina Rutter is buried there because of her second obituary.[1] I know from all three obituaries that daughters Julia and Elma are buried there (Nina's obituary states that she "will be laid along side of a brother [misprint, should be sister] and sister in the family burial place."[2] A.J.'s obituary states that his "remains were taken to Rock Rapids, Iowa, for internment, where rests the remains of three children."[3] Mary's obituary says that her remains were taken "for interment in the cemetery where the husband and three daughters of the deceased are buried."[4] So there should be five people in the family plot: A.J., Mary, Nina, Julia, and Elma. The city is surprised to hear this. It seems that record keeping was done poorly when the cemetery first started. The first entry for the family plot reads: "C all 11, A.J. Rutter. Rock R., June 2" 1884. $5 cash."[5] There are several issues with this entry. A.J. Rutter did not live in Rock Rapids in 1884. He had a homestead in Elgin township, Lyon County until July 1883 when the family moved to Pipestone, Minnesota (Rock Rapids would have been the post office when the family resided in the county). I do know that Nina was buried on or about May 30, 1884, per her second obituary. This entry is most likely the fee record for Nina’s burial. A.J. is buried in space 2 and Mary is in space 3. These are the only two burials that the cemetery knows of since they both have markers. I do not believe that the family was wrong about the two other daughters, Julia and Elma, being buried there, but where? The city has since re-sold the "empty" space in the plot, although no one has been buried there thus yet. They were going to look into it and let me know.

[1] "The remains of Nina Rutter...," burial notice, Pipestone County (Minnesota) Star, 30 May 1884, p. 3; microfilm held by the Pipestone County Historical Society and Museum.
[2] ibid
[3] "Death of A. J. Rutter," obituary, The Farmer's Leader (Pipestone, Minnesota), 22 September 1910, p. 1; microfilm held by the Pipestone County Historical Society and Museum.
[4] "Death of Mrs. A.J. Rutter: An Old And Esteemed Pipestone Lady Passed Away Quite Suddenly," Pipestone County (Minnesota) Star, 23 January 1912, p. 1; microfilm held by the Pipestone County Historical Society and Museum.
[5] Riverview Cemetery (Rock Rapids, Iowa), plat books, 2 June 1884, A. J. Rutter, C 11. This entry is most likely the burial fee for Nina E. Rutter.
[photo] Riverview Cemetery (Rock Rapids, Lyon County, Iowa; south end of S. Tama St.), Alonzo J. Rutter and Mary E. Rutter, section C, lot 11, spaces 2 & 3; photograph by author, 6 June 2009.


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