A sad, silence prevails as the evening wind whispers over the leaning and broken tombstones of Antrim Cemetery. Located in Riverside Township of Fremont Co., Iowa, on a small corner of farmland, this cemetery is practically inaccessible because of deep road ditches which result in steep banks of earth to climb. It is encircled by a rusty, bent, wire woven fence where a iron gate hides on broken hinges telling of a forgotten entrance to the graves.
One of the first cemeteries in Fremont County with its first burial in 1825, it has been a resting place for some fifty-five to sixty early settlers whose names have long been forgotten. Many stones have been stolen by despicable thieves; wooden markers have been lost to annual burnings of the weeds and grasses.
The few remaining grave markers tell a story of devastating illness which struck the small children of these pioneer families. Some family members may have traveled on westward and therefore never put down roots in the new settlement of Deer Creek. Many did remain to begin new lives in this fertile land and eventually contributed to the settling of the town of Randolph which was begun in 1878 about two and a half miles west of the cemetery.
Now the only visitors to this ancient cemetery are ground squirrels, field mice, a lone hawk and the farmer as he plants his crop near the north and east fences. There are years when the only care it receives is from local 4-H club members or the local firemen who burn off the dead grass. Even the tall pine trees and the big oak which shaded many graves, have disappeared. Now suddenly, 180 years have passed and there is danger of this historical cemetery vanishing forever from the corner of this corn field. Is it inevitable? Does it have to be? How many cemeteries in Iowa have been lost because of lack of interest and lack of care? Can the march of time be stopped? Can the pioneers who civilized our area be properly remembered in some way? Will it even still be recognizable fifty years from now?
America remembers it's dead the last weekend in May. We raise flags and make our cemeteries beautiful with flowers and neatly mowed grass. Somehow we need to also remember such places as the Antrim Cemetery which will have no visitors, no flags, no flowers and not even a sign to mark it's importance in the history of a county in S.W. Iowa.
Must the breezes that blow be sad and silent forever? Couldn't they be playful winds that romp with the souls of the little children? Couldn't they be winds of pride that smile as they tiptoe through the tall grasses which hide and protect gravestones? Couldn't they be winds proudly blowing because someone remembers and cares? Do you have an ancestor resting in this forgotten patch of earth? Isn't there something we as a caring society could do? Perhaps a flag or at least a sign proclaiming it's existence?