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A step back in time at the Homer Cemetery

Presenters share the stories of early settlers; Dowsing rods used to search for burial sites

June 20, 2013
Anne Blankenship (ablankenship@freemanjournal.net) , The Daily Freeman Journal

Members of the Hamilton County Cemetery Preservation Society escorted about 20 people around the old Homer Cemetery, a pioneer cemetery southwest of Webster City.

The cemetery is one of the few remnants of the once-thriving community of 600 residents. At one time, Homer was the largest community in both Hamilton and Webster counties.

"This marks the first settlement in the area,"?said Catherine Bergman, one of the tour guides. "The government was granting people the privilege of homesteading all of this land in this area at a cost of $1.25 per acre."

Article Photos

Naturalist John Laird portrays John Enberg, a worker at Mine No. 5 in Lehigh, which was owned by the Crooked Creek Coal and Railroad Company. Enberg was killed in a fall in the mine shaft in 1901.

"The construction of the stagecoach route from Boone to Fort Dodge was really what resulted in the growth of the town,"?she added.

The evening featured presentations on some of the prominent early settlers buried in the cemetery. Readers assumed the roles and gave a description of life in and around Homer in the 1800s.

Participants walked from grave to grave to hear the historical information. Some of the presenters dressed in costume as they shared the stories of the lives of businessmen, laborers, housewives and even Gypsies. Two graves of a Gypsy mother and child are located several yards from the main cemetery behind a natural prairie.

Following the presentations, preservation society members demonstrated how to use dowsing rods to locate unmarked graves in the cemetery. Some say the roads can find underground disruptions that could be burial sites. Those attending had a chance to try their hand with the rods, walking near known grave sites to see the reaction, and then striking out to find the unmarked sites.

The cemetery program marks the fifth such event held at Hamilton County pioneer cemeteries in the past few years.

 
 

 

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