Dallas County, Iowa

Cemetery Directory

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Van Fossen Cemetery History

(aka Rodenaugh, Gibson, Old Adel)

Adel Twp. Section 31, Dallas County, Iowa

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 In a field west of Adel, on the north side of Highway 6 is the Rodenbaugh Cemetery, also called the Van Fossen.

The oldest of the legible stones is dated 1856, and the most recent is 1910. 

The first Adel burying ground was a short distance south of town but not proving satisfactory, a change was made to a mile and half west of town. But after a few years it was abandoned.

We believe it is grown up in prairie grass as in the spring it was burned off and left to grow.

There are cement posts from Hi. 6 back marking the lane.

Desperately needs restoration.

Written in the and contributed by Velma Renfrow, 1960s.
The following is a newspaper article that Velma attached to her history of the cemetery. Circa 1980s.
Adel's old cemetery:
A place out of time

by Brian Steffen
  ADEL - There'll someday be a striking contract between new and old here.
  That contract will come about when Bob Fuller of Adel starts work on a new subdivision that he plans to develop on the west edge of the city.
  Fuller's subdivision will be full of modern homes, but it will sit next to a relic of the 19th century: the old Van Fossen Cemetery.
  The cemetery is a place that relatively few people know about until recently when Fuller approached the Adel City Council for approval of the plat for his subdivision.
  Attorneys for the city and Fuller discovered that, because of faulty surveys of the land, part of the subdivision, according to the city's plat of land, actually lies on city-owned land near the cemetery.
  That issue was taken care of easily Monday when the city council and Fuller tentatively took care of the differences in surveys, but development of the area sparked interest in the old cemetery.
  The Van Fossen Cemetery has been known under a variety of names over the years, such as Old Adel, Gibson and Rodenbaugh cemeteries.
  The plot was the original city cemetery of Adel, but was eventually replaced by Oakdale Cemetery north of Kinnick Feller Park.
  Since then, time has virtually stood still at Van Fossen Cemetery.
  Very little is known of the cemetery's history. Six Van Fossens are buried there, but there are no Gibsons or Rodenbaughs, leading one to wonder how those other names stuck.
  It sits about a quarter mile north of Highway 6, nearly out of the city limits. No road leads to it. The only way to get there is on foot.
  The area is overgrown with brush, trees and weeds. The grave markers, and hence the cemetery, are hard to find.
  But once a visitor finds the cemetery, he feels like someone in a time machine. The 1980s seem like a time that could only be described in an H.G. Wells book.

Van Fossen cemetery....
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86 persons are buried at cemetery

Van Fossen cemetery...
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The only sounds one can hear are those of cattle mooing in the distance and the wind.
  Eighty-six people were buried in Van Fossen Cemetery over a 55-year period.
  The first of J.C. Fishel, who died at age of 21 in 1855. The last was Elizabeth Van Fossen, who died in 1910 at age 89.
  Most of the markers have disappeared under the brush. Only 14 are visible including those of Elizabeth Van Fossen and her husband, Ezra, who died in 1901 when he was 84.
  The Bilderbacks, Charles and Mary, both of whom died in the 1870s, are there, too. Another stone marks the grave of Catherine Snyder, a 19-year-old who died in 1870. Yet another lies above the resting place of Lizzie White, another teenager who died in the 1870s.
  Adel's little-known cemetery bears witness to the tragedies suffered by the Chance family during the reconstruction after the Civil War.
  The grave markers of the three members of the Chance family seems to tell a sad story.
  John P. Chance died at the age of 36 in October 1865, a time when the country was just starting to recover from the Civil War. He left a pregnant wife, Elizabeth, behind.
  Elizabeth died the day after Christmas two months later, presumably while delivering a child, also named Elizabeth, died on Dec. 29. All three are buried together.
  Most of the other markers can't be found, their stones either broken or eroded away.
  Among those that can't be located are those for four other Van Fossens, all of whom died at early ages.
  In fact, most of the people buried in Van Fossen Cemetery were young when their time came. Early county history books contain no reference to them.
  The stories of their lives, other than what is told on the grave markers, are unknown.
  Like the quiet that has hung over the plot for decades, these people probably were a quiet group, most of them not living long enough to make their mark in the world.
  But with the coming of Fuller's subdivision, and with it the world of the 1980s, that same quiet may not last for long.
From Don Van Fossen, including the copy of the deed.

It was deeded to the City of Adel, by my great-great-grandfather Dr. Ezra Van Fossen in 1857. It apparently was part of the farm that he homesteaded in 1852 that is on the other side of Green St. [ Old U.S. 6 ]

He was the second doctor in Dallas County as the Dallas County History lists a strange fellow as a doctor in Adel just prior to Dr. Van Fossen moving to Adel.
Ezra Van Fossen deeds land to Adel for cemetery:
Adel, Dallas County, Iowa E-136 Ezra Vanfossen and Elizabeth Vanfossen Nov. 10, Nov. 10, 1857 (no explanation) Deed Filed 9th day of November 1857 record the

Mayor & Councilmen of Adel, Iowa

Nathan B. Nichols, Mayor J. F. Strong Timothy Lockwood Ransom Richardson & Robert R. Bailey, Councilmen of Adel, And to their successors in office forever in Trust for the use of the Pubic Burying Ground and for no other purpose the following described premises to wit: Five acres in the North Corner of the Southwest Quarter of the North West Quarter of Section Thirty-one, in Township 79 North of range 27 West described and bounded as follows Commencing at point 50 links south of the line dividing the North and South halves of the North West quarter of aforesaid section and one chain 77 links east of the West line of said quarter thence east parallel to said dividing line for Six (6) chains and thirty three links, thence South for Seven chains and ten links thence West for seven chains and ten link, to within on chain of the Section line thence North for five chains and ninety-five links and thence to the place of beginning, containing five acres as aforesaid.

Added to Dallas County IAGenWeb 31 Jul 2017

Rodenbaugh Cemetery Index

Dallas County Cemeteries  ***   Dallas County IAGenWeb