Jasper Co. IAGenWeb

Dearinger Burial Plots

A Pioneer Cemetery

Elk Creek Township

11193 Hwy T14 S.
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Dearinger Burial Plot     Dearinger Burial Plot

Dearinger Cemetery - Clouded in Controversy

This is an attempt to tell only the story of Dearinger Cemetery and any legal descriptions and other related documents can be found at the Jasper County Genealogical Library in Newton, Iowa.

In the early 1800's pioneers from the east began to settle Jasper County, Iowa. One of these families was the Dearinger's from Ripley, Indiana. Jacob Dearinger Sr. and his wife Nancy Cook purchased land in Elk Creek Township and began to farm. In 1853 or 1854 their son William Dearinger and his wife Hannah Hammer lost their first born child. The infant was laid to rest in a field on the Dearinger property and a small white stone marked the grave . This was the beginning of the old pioneer burial site known as Dearinger Cemetery. It was on top of a rolling hill of blue grass among a grove of Oak trees and plainly visible from the farmstead.

In 1857 another small white stone was added when Jacob Dearinger Jr. and his wife Hannah Loucks lost their daughter Mary. Eight years later, in 1866, Hannah died and less than a month later a daughter Mariah passed away.

There is no official burial register for the Dearinger Cemetery and it is not known for sure how many graves were there. Here is where we must rely on history and folklore to piece the story together. The older Dearinger relatives remember many stones marking four rows of graves on the west side along an old wagon trail and were quite readable because they faced the West. The stones on the East side of the cemetery faced the East.

In Backward Look At A Little Spot In Iowa, by Della Wade Peery written in May of 1959 we read: "Henry Kroh was one of the first settlers in Elk Creek Township. Others were Dearinger, Butin, Peery, and Snodgrass. Soon still more families followed and a community was established. Many of the original settlers are now buried in an old cemetery about two miles South of Galesbury on the Galesburg-Pella road. The land for this necessary spot was donated to the community by Jacob Dearinger Sr. Some 100 years later, during the Dearinger's 4th generation the "Old Dearinger Farm" was sold to William Van Wyk and wife Nellie in the year 1957. The deed read: "excepting the one acre which was set aside as a said burial ground." Soon changes of the landscape signaled agricultural progress. Little by little, the prairie hills and woodland gradually disappeared and became "farm land." Year by year the pioneer cemetery, which hadn't been used, was allowed to grow into weeds and was not maintained.

In 1962, the Elk Creek Trustees took action to abandon any claims to the run-down old burial grounds and began seeking permission to remove all persons buried in Dearinger Cemetery to Hewitt Cemetery which is maintained by Elk Creek Township. By this time most of the close relatives were deceased and the Elk Creek trustees and the Township clerk then used their collective personal knowledge of said unknown persons to disinter and reinter from Dearinger to Hewitt Cemetery. It is understood that most disinterments can be as little as a scoop of dirt from the original grave moved to the appointed resting place. The total remains are rarely moved.

It is generally believed that about twenty-five graves were in the original cemetery. In 1962 the Elk Creek Township Trustees obtained permission to move seven graves from Dearinger to Hewitt. The symbolic disinterment of the graves were made. The Elk Creek Trustees entered into an agreement with the farmer to clear the cemetery which was cluttered with weeds, trees, groundhog mounds and other debris. The following year a bulldozer leveled most of the one acre cemetery leaving only a large stone marking Jacob Dearinger Senior's grave and several smaller stones.

One faction states that each time the ground was sold it excluded the one acre cemetery. The other side says the deed gives the farmer control of the property including the cemetery.

In 1981 there were still broken gravestones to be found on the site and the fence that surrounded the original cemetery had been removed. In 1983 the farmer asked permission to remove the remaining stones so the land could be plowed and farmed. He was told he had to have permission of the Dearinger relatives. Again the controversy loomed, some relatives said yes other said no, but consequently the remaining graves were moved to Hewitt. A district judge ruled the township had no obligation to care for the site and that the farmer was the lawful owner. The Dearingers appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court. The Iowa Court of Appeals ordered the farmer to restore the plots of Jacob Dearinger Sr. to its original condition prior to his removal of the stone from his farm field. Due to further protests the graves of Jacob Dearinger Junior's wife Hannah and daughter Mariah also were preserved. Then the controversy was renewed as to the way the restoration was done. Small wooden fences surrounded the stones and the ancestors called them "Little pig pen "graves. The relatives erected a ten foot wooden cross and planted a tree at each grave site and they can be identified from the road.

The Dearinger tombstones can be found in the far Southeast portion of the Old section of Hewitt Cemetery spaced in a row provided by the Elk Creek Township Trustees. The following was researched by the Jasper County Cemetery Commission and given here as accurately as possible.

Source: Jasper County, Iowa Cemeteries: Elk Creek Township, compiled by Jasper County Genealogical Society; published by the Iowa Genealogical Society. Copyright 1994. Used with their permission.

To order this book, contact the Iowa Genealogical Society.

Submit obituaries for people buried in this cemetery by using the obituary submission form.
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