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Premission is given by Pat and Charles Baumler, the Treasure and President of the Lima Cemetery Improvement Association to put the following information in the Fayette County Archives.

 Taken from notes compiled by the late Elizabeth Oelberg Dickinson, Fayette, Iowa and the late Merl Durfey.


Very Large Rock

John Thorpe was born August 26, 1874 and died November 29, 1903. He attended the "Frog Hollow School" which was located just across the road from the Thorpe home.

John was six feel tall and weighed more than two hundred pounds. One day, in the presence of a neighbor, Lyman Tompkins, he lifted a large rock. no other man could lift it, but several men all working together lifted it.


John told his shepherd dog to go and bring the cows home. The dog would start and stop and start and stop until John twisted his ear. The dog immediately bit John's hand and he had to choke the dog with his knee to make him let go. The dog ran away and didn't get the cows.


 The next day after having bitten John the dog followed Lydia, who had gone on horseback to Lima, back to the Thorpe home. He wanted John to pet him, but John told him to go away because he wouldn't work for him, he wouldn't pet him. The dog followed John's mother to the house, but wouldn't eat the food she gave him. He then ran away and was never found.

John Thorpe Stone

On Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1903, John married Belle Martin. Their plan was to live on the farm in Frog Hollow.


On November 27, 1903, the  next day after his marriage, John became ill with Hydrophobia. his dog had rabies and they didn't realize it.


John was very ill with the terrible disease, hydrophobia. The sight of water would cause him to go into a convulsion and a black fluid would come from his mouth. They tore up and used thirteen bed sheets to catch the fluid.


John was attended by three doctors, Dr. Bartlett from West Union, who was a close friend of John; Dr. McLean from Fayette and Dr. Whitmore. His wife's sister, Maude Bernice Martin, was his nurse.

On Saturday, November 28, 1903, John told them he knew he would die and would not see the sun set on Sunday evening. He told them all, but was really talking to Frank Oelberg, a neighbor, to put the large rock on the foot of his grave.

Because John was so large and strong, they were not able to manage him during the last few hours. The three doctors decided to give him chloroform. He died quietly, but was conscious when they started to give him chloroform on Sunday afternoon.


Frank Oelberg, Lyman Tomkins and others very carefully placed the large stone, which he had lifted to prove his strength, at the foot of his grave in the Lima Cemetery. The rock measures seventy eight inches in circumference.