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Pioneer cemetery vandalized

By NICK NARIGON

cemetery
Ken Mather, Marengo, a member of the Iowa County Cemetery Commission, measures a 12-foot gate at Spicer-Spooner Pioneer Cemetery, located two miles west of Homestead. Vandals bashed in the gate with a vehicle earlier this month.

Vandals reportedly bashed in the gates at the Spicer-Spooner Pioneer Cemetery west of Homestead.

Iowa County Pioneer Cemetery Commission member Ken Mather, Marengo, discovered the vandalism Wednesday, Nov. 11. He said somebody used a vehicle to bash in the gates of the cemetery. It occurred sometime between Halloween, which was the last time the cemetery was mowed, and Nov. 11, when Mather made his monthly check.

None of the gravestones were bothered, he said, but up to $500 in damage was done to the gates and fence posts.

“Somebody got down there and really tore up our gates,” Mather said. “This is a waste of money and labor.”

According to the Iowa County Sheriff’s Department report, somebody used a vehicle, possibly even an ATV, to ram the gates. The incident remains under investigation.

The Spicer-Spooner Cemetery was rediscovered approximately 12 to 15 years ago, Mather said. It was not listed in the plat books.

About 10 or 11 years ago, the existence of the cemetery was brought to the attention of the cemetery commission.

The cemetery originally existed between Highway 6 and the railroad tracks. The inhabitants were early Homestead settlers, many from the Spicer and Spooner families. Most of the tombstones are dated from the 1850s and 1860s. All of the inhabitants were buried prior to 1900.

According to his list, Mather said 43 people are buried in the Spicer-Spooner Cemetery, including a veteran of the War of 1812.

“Its kind of a unique little place,” he said.

Around 1900, the railroad tracks were built, and the cemetery was moved to its current location.

One gravestone remains at the former site, now known as the Granny Sprague Cemetery, and can be seen from Highway 6.

After the Spicer-Spooner Cemetery was moved to its current location, approximately two miles west of Homestead about a quarter of a mile north of Highway 6, the cemetery was all but forgotten.

By the time the pioneer cemetery commission learned of the gravesite, it was completely buried by soil, trees and underbrush. Mather said only the tip of one tombstone could be located above ground.

Commission members took out over 30 trees and grubbed the stumps. Mather said they literally had to get on their hands and knees to remove the underbrush by hand. The tombstones were unearthed and the plot was graded so it could be mowed.

“This was one of the bigger projects the cemetery board has done,” Mather said. “A ton of work was put into it.”

UPDATED November 18, 2009 2:03 PM

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