By Beverly Clinkingbeard
Today we call it Memorial Day. It’s not a holiday, but a day of remembrance.
Civil War mothers and sweethearts created the special observance calling it Decoration Day. There were few families untouched by the war within our nation, and taking flowers to the graves of their loved ones offered the same solace for them that it does us.
There is a small cemetery near the Atchison/Nodaway County line known as London Cemetery. The first recorded grave is 1873, but there may have been a burial before then. It served residents on the very northwest side of Nodaway County and the Atchison County neighborhoods of Moulton, North Star and London, set at 170th and X Avenue. The most recent burials are 1961 and 1975.
There was never a church attached to the cemetery, but there may have been prayer meetings in the London School. There was a church two miles north in the North Star neighborhood. The 1877 plat map lists a post office for London. There was once a maintenance building for tools to keep the cemetery presentable, but as families moved and more mobility, other cemeteries were favored and burials became infrequent.
For many years, Glenn Stevens and Presley Clark devoted time to keeping the weeds and sprouting trees at bay. Then Chic Stevens picked up on his grandfather’s interest and with occasional assist from Klute, Clinkingbeard and Johnson it was at least presentable for Memorial Day.
Then one night vandals struck. Evidence indicated using a vehicle and log chains to pull stones over. It has been a sad sight for several years, and to fix it would require know-how and equipment. The good news is, Rod and Jake McEnaney, both grew up in the London neighborhood, and they have taken an interest in the cemetery’s restoration. They contacted a family from Arkansas who specialize in these repairs and are known as Corson Cemetery Restoration. They have know-how and equipment. They have the stones standing straight and respectfully for those whom they represent.
As many stones are old, they are an example of old designs and artistry. One very elaborate stone is that of Richard and Anna Stafford. They were first settlers into the London neighborhood and built a large block home within sight of the cemetery. In 1874, “Anna M. Stafford, age 9 yr 4 mo 22 day – dau of Richard & Elizabeth O WILSON Stafford – twin sister of Mary Stafford” was buried. An Ida C. Stafford and John R. Stafford, London, attended Amity College, that was Amity, IA, now known as College Springs, IA, for the 1882-83 school year.
London was also an early-day stagecoach stop and the school remained open until the 1950 school consolidation. Other names engraved on the tombstones are: Stevens, Clark, Cozad, VanMeter, Francis, Harness, Steel, Grubb, Hutt, Andrews, Gordon, Gronwold, who died 1897, “1 yr, 1m, 22d.” This particular grave has a brief story that a couple was traveling from Rock Port to Clarinda, IA, by wagon, a journey of several days. The little boy became very ill and they stopped at the Stevens’ farm home for help. The child died and is buried without family at London Cemetery.
Every year the peonies, day lily and iris testify with their blooms that the settlers cared, though this year, the restoration work has left healing scars. It is estimated there are about 30 unmarked graves.
A special thank you to Corson’s, Chic, Rod and Jake. This Memorial Day the cemetery is ready for visitors.
Because someone may ask, contact for Corson’s is corsonsO8cemetery_repair@
Til next time.