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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, May 21, 2015, Page 14

Pioneer Cemetery plants oak trees in memory of Martin

Submitted by Angie Hynek, Ringgold County Pioneer Cemetery Commission Chairman

The Pioneer Cemetery Commission has planted an oak tree in the Thompson Cemetery in memory of long time Pioneer Cemetery commissioner Bob (Robert) Martin. Hynek Tree Farm planted a second oak tree in his memory.

Martin was appointed to District 6 of the Pioneer Cemetery Commission by Ringgold County supervisors in 1999 to replace deceased commissioner Doyle Denhart. Martin oversaw the restoration and maintenance of many of the 29 pioneer cemeteries until his death on May 5, 2014.

Martin's District 6 included Thompson Cemetery, located four miles south of Mount Ayr on 230th Avenue (the Country Club road), Sweet Home Cemetery (Lesanville), Oak Ridge Cemetery (West Side), and Caledonia Cemetery (on Country Highway J44, Lotts Creek).

Diane Zollman of Benton is the current District 6 Pioneer Cemetery Commissioner.

The Thompson Cemetery is rich in history and unique in appearance. Local histories write of an early Ringgold County seat named Avon, of which Thompson Cemetery remains to mark its location. One account is from "Entering The Wilderness": "During 1850 a small group of settlers got together in a sort of caucus, fixed a site of land owned by Jesse Thompson four miles south and a little east of Mount Ayr as a prospective county seat and suggested that it be called Avon. They probably made no formal report, because no further acion was taken and the civil organization of the county, with its 542 square miles of rolling prairie and woodland, was attached to the newly organized Decatur County in 1851." By 1929 the cemetery had fallen into neglect. Concerned, John S. Thompson, visiting from Sunnyside, WA, took action and erected a four-foot high cement wall around his relatives' graves. The cement enclosure still stands, and John's relatives' graves remain protected, while many of the stones outside the enclosure have disappeared.

In 2004, the commission began restoration of the Thompson Cemetery by building a fence, installing name gate, removing brush and repairing stones.

Photograph courtesy of Mount Ayr Record-News

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2015

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