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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Tuesday, February 15, 2007

Letter to the Editor

Another View of Tedrow Cemetery

Photograph by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2010

Dear Alan,

I am writing in response to your front page article about the Tedrow Cemetery in last week's Record-News

My great-great-grandparents, Silas and Hannah TEDROW, owned the 45 acres on which the TEDROW Cemetery sits in Athens Township. When a five-year-old Joseph A TEDROW died in 1858, he was buried there. There were several others in the Salem community who died right after Joesph and were buried there. The community decided it needed a cemetery locally so the TEDROW family sold the land to the county for $.oo on October 12, 1864. I have the original transation of this sale that was passed down from my father, Lawrence SWANK, to me. My dad's mohter was Lottie TEDROW SWANK, daughter of Grant and Alice GILMORE TEDROW. Grant was the son of Silas and Hannah.

My father was Lawrence SWANK who was born in 1911 and was the oldest of six sons born to Lewis and Lottie TEDROW SWANK. His family lived near the cemetery and surrounding timberland and were there many days during the year either hunting or trapping or getting wood for heating or cooking at their home. My dad's grandparents, Grant and Alice, had a home down in the timber west of the cemetery. They lived there during the winter every year as it was warmer, nestled down in the sidehill and they had all the wood they needed at easy access, plus plenty of fresh meat from the wildlife there.

My dad told about going to visit his grandparents quite often in the winter by walking or by horse and sleigh. They always went to his grandparents' place for Christmas every year. He said it never mattered when they were there, his grandmother always had a fresh white linen tablecloth on the table. I could always visualize what it looked like after the grandsons were done eating. Sometimes they would all stay the night or if it snowed a lot, they might stay several days.

My parents, Lawrence and Wilma GREENMAN SWANK, lived within two miles of the TEDROW Cemetery most of their lives. As children my family and our SWANK cousins spent a lot of time at the timber and we always checked out the cemetery. We played cowboys and Indians and hide-and-seek and played in the creek. We did this while our fathers cut and sawed trees to be used to heat our homes in the winter each year. Every fall almost every weekend was spent there cutting and hauling wood. Our mothers came along and prepared the meals over the bonfire. When I look back on those years, they were a fun time in my life even though at the time we thought helping with the wood was lots of hard work.

I am 64 years old and the first 20 years of my life I lived two miles from the timber and cemtery. As a child of eight to 14 years, I went with my dad lots of times coon hunting in the timber surrounding the cemetery. We didn't have flashlights then so we would carry kerosene lanterns as we walked the timber hunting at night. Lots of times my legs would get really tired from walking the hills and I needed to rest. Besides I was slowing up my dad's hunting.

He would take me back up to the cemetery so I could rest and snack on some of the food and water he brought along. He would leave me one lantern. Lots of times I would set with my back against Mr. [Marion] MOULTON'S cement grave on top of the ground. I would listen for my Dad as I could tell where he was by the hounds barking and then finally treeing a coon and then a gunshot and after that I would see the kerosene light bobbing along as my dad and the dogs came closer. Then it was time to head home.

I never was scared to be in the cemetery, day or night, and I never saw a ghost. [NOTE: TEDROW Cemetery has been rumored for decades as being haunted. It was listed in the book Most Haunted Places in Iowa.] It was always very peaceful there. Thinking about the grave on top of the ground, my grandfather, Lewis SWANK, was a pallbearer for Mr. MOULTON who is buried there. My grandpa was about 20 years old at the time.

From the time I was a little kid, we always went to decorate the graves on Memorial Day and every year Dad always gave us a history lesson on all the people who were buried at TEDROW and all the other little cemeteries in the area. A lot of the people buried there are relatives or were close friends and neighbors of the family.

There was one grave that was always very interesting and very sad for us kids to hear about when we went to decorate the graves. It was the little girl who was buried in the far corner with no marker. My dad told about the little girl whose body had been found in a well after a group of pioneers had been camped nearby and had headed on west in a wagon train. His grandmother told the story as she lived in the area at the time. Every year my dad made sure there were flowers on her grave as his family before him had done.

The last person buried at TEDROW was Jake TEDROW in March of 1955. My dad helped did thegrave as he had for some of the burials there. I went to Jake's funeral as he was a relative of ours. The service was held at the Salem Church. It was a rainy cold day and getting to the cemetery was quite an ordeal as we had to go one and one-half miles on mud road. We all went with horse and wagons.

In all the years I have been around the cemetery, I have never seen any ghosts or any other unusual happenings. So it's hard for me to believe all of these stories. But that's okay. Everyone has a right to believe what they want to.

What really bothers me is the damage that has been done to the stones and had to be repaired by my dad and uncles over the years, plus all the beer cans and junk left there for someone else to clean up.

So if you go to visit the cemetery, please show respect for the people who are buried there as a lot of them were some of the early pioneers of this county. Please shut the gate when you leave and take your trash with you because you never know who might be watching you. I love that old cemetery and someday my ashes will be there.

Sincerely yours,

Linda Swank Swanson

Transcriber's Note: Tragically, approximately 40 of the gravestones at Tedrow Cemetery were horribly vandalized in August of 2010. It is not known if many of these gravestones can be replaced - they were 'smashed.'

Submission by Mike Avitt; Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2010
Photographs by Sharon R. Becker, March of 2010

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 15, 2015, Page 10

By Mike Avitt

I am often asked about Ringgold County cemeteries. Sometimes someone will spot a family plot in a field or stumble on a small pioneer cemetery and wonder if these burial sites are known to people who have an interest in such matters. The answer is yes.

In 2003, Raymond Banner (on behalf of the Ringgold County Historial Society) compiled a book, "Cemetery Gravestone Recordings of Ringgold County, Iowa," using information gathered by individuals and members of the Ringgold County Historical Society. Betty Ruby and Ruth Haley were a big part of this effort. Unfortunately not many copies of this book were printed so they are hard to find. [ Transcriber's Note: A copy of Raymond's book may be found at the Mount Ayr Public Library, Mount Ayr, Iowa.]

The book lists all known burials in RInggold County up to 2002 and gives information such as where the cemetery is and any history known to that cemetery. For example, Tedrow Cemetery is in Section 19 of Athens Township and the land for this cemetery was sold to Ringgold County by Silas and Hannah Tedrow on October 12, 1864.

I took this week's photo in March or April of 2010 while Sharon Becker and I were doing some research for our book, "Images of America - Ringgold County." About three months after we took our pictures, vandals did great damage to many grave markers. I have not returned and so don't know if any repairs have been made.

Tedrow Cemetery can be found on the Internet and a couple of lists of scary or haunted places. I went there as a teenager when it was common to take girls to the cemetery to scare them. And, boy, did it work!

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News
Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, October 22 2015, Page 2

Letter to the Editor
Tedrow Cemtery is now completely repaird and nice
To the Editor:Yes, Raymond Banner did compile the book "Cemetery Gravestone Recordings of Ringgold County, Iowa," but there was a lot more people who helped make this book possible.

Since 2003 the Ringgold County Historical Society has had six different printings with over 350 books printed and we have sold over 325 books. They are still available by calling Bob and Linda Swanson at 641-783-2155. The cost is $40 plus postage if mailed.

In regards to the Tedrow Cemetery, it has been completely repaired and is in very fine condition. Silas and Hannah Tedrow were my great, great grandparents.

Linda Swanson

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2015

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