Fremont County, Iowa

Antrim Cemetery ~ Infant Burials
by Sherry Perkins

View from the Attic ~ A Weekly Series
Fremont County Historical Society
Week of June 16, 2010

Earlier, I wrote about the abandoned Antrim Cemetery in Riverside Township in Fremont County. Walking among the tombstones and reading the names, makes the people come alive. We can only speculate on the lives of these early settlers along the banks of Deer Creek. However, by using our imaginations to get the feel for these pioneers, we can in a small way perhaps give them an importance they didn't realize they had 160-180 years ago.

The earliest burial was Mary Wood, age 2 months. and 3 days, dying in December 1825. Mary was the infant daughter of Joseph and Sarah Wood. Her brother Charles followed her in death six months later. He was almost 20 years of age. This tells of a family of many children as large families were common. I expect Charles hunted along Deer Creek for food to help the family survive the harsh winters. He would have spent long days helping his father break the sod with teams of horses. He probably had carpenter skills as most men did in those says. He could have helped his father build their cabin in the Deer Creek area. Most were one or two rooms at the most and were very cold in winters. Did he succumb to pneumonia or did he die an accidental death?

The saddest deaths of course had to be the babies and small children. Here are stones for Henry Blakely age 1 year & 8 days; Sarah Blakely age 6 days; Mary Ann Johnson age 3 years and 4 months, and more. Many died in 1876. Diphtheria perhaps or measles? Life was hard on the prairie and doctors far away or nonexistent.

Little Willie Cleary is a name on another tombstone. He died in October of 1876 at 5 years of age. Not many years to romp the hills, explore the creek, or fulfill his childish dreams. Since he was called "Little Willie" could it be that he was always sickly and unable to do the normal things little boys of his day did? Could today's medicine and doctors have saved him?

Seven year old Martha Welty died February of 1876. Apparently she too had the dreaded disease that was killing so many of the settlement that year. Smallpox was always rampant and perhaps that was her undoing. No longer could she put her hair into long pig-tails for the walk to the Deer Creek one-room school which she attended. I imagine she loved her teacher and was diligent in learning to write her letters and numbers. She never had the chance to find her potential in life.


Author's Notes:

      The dates and names included in this article were taken from the Fremont County Cemetery Record Book. The rest is the result of an active imagination on my part. But the truth of this article is that these were real people living and dying in a new land and now they have been all but forgotten and soon there will be nothing to mark their place in the earth where they lie buried. A following article will introduce you to some of the adults buried in this lonely place. I end with the same plea I made earlier. Isn't there something we as a caring society could do to save Antrim Cemetery in Fremont County?

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Page updated on May 10, 2017 by Karyn Techau