Jefferson County Online
Gilmer Cemetery

Location: Round Prairie Township, Section 15. It is northwest of the old buildings at the corner of Glasgow Road and Wintergreen, 1/2 mile off of the pavement. Enter at the cattle panels at the mud hole west of an old house. This cemetery is planted shut each year by the farmer. (see township map.)

Burials: 1845 to 1885.

Condition: It was cleaned up and all stones reset in 1997 by Jack Porter.

Mowed: ??

Photo taken Aug. 1997

Added by Verda Baird, February, 2019:

This cemetery is located a half-mile off the blacktop road on a farm owned by Dale & Marge Schillerstrom, who are long retired. It has been farmed for about the last five years by their son who does not live in the area. Surrounded by cropland, it gets planted shut each season. Fences were very poor and cattle and hogs roamed this pioneer cemetery back in the 1960s when interest in recording every gravestone was started by the local DAR members headed up by Mary Prill. The previous publication was a WPA project about 1939, but it listed adult burials only.

In 1961, the DAR published Volume #1 of a total of 11 volumes, covering all but one of the cemeteries in the county, and this small GILMER Cemetery was among those listed. Volume #1 burials were of members of 23 families, all ages included. After deaths, spouses often moved away and in 1958 Mrs. Prill had begun answering letters from descendants. She listed the gravestones in the rows as they appeared. Most are illegible in 2019, and overgrown with green moss. The bulging 4-drawer file cabinet of Mary Prill who died in 1979 was given to Verda Baird of the Jefferson County Genealogical Society and all the family charts were placed in the Fairfield Public Library after her husband Orville's death in 1997. Mary never published Evergreen Cemetery in Fairfield, the largest cemetery in the county with about 11,000 burials now. Verda and her able helpers got Evergreen Cemetery published in 1990, and it is currently kept up to date on the cemetery's office computer.

The county genealogical society was organized in October, 1972. Starting with Round Prairie Township in 1985, Verda, with the help of Wilma (Dallner) Lewis started walking six cemeteries (the seventh had been destroyed by a farmer). She published that township in 1986, the first of the 12 townships. Next she combined all 12 townships alphabetically into one hardbound book.

With regard to Gilmer Cemetery, in 1976 Verda was helping out-of-town researchers find their lost ancestors. Mary Prill's health was failing and soon the "genie bug" bit Verda. She had never been back to Gilmer Cemetery, but with a phone call she soon had researchers at her door on a very windy day. The land owner volunteered to meet them at the gate to show them the way back as it was planted shut. He never showed up, so they took the alternate route down below a farm pond.

They could not even walk through all the brush without snagging their sweaters, so they gave up. So many broken stones and cattle in the far north end, they left so very disappointed. A township trustee had shared the info that there were knocked-over gravestones that had been picked up and placed in a nearby barn. Verda and Wilma, in about 1985, walked from the cemetery through tall horse weeds to the big empty barn, but were disappointed with nothing found.

Time goes by quickly and soon a newly retired "genie", namely Jack Porter, had been to a program showing how to repair and reset grave markers, and one nice day he loaded me up and away we went bouncing along in his car, seeing parts of the county I was not aware of. I wish now I had taken pictures of stones. That is all the rage these past 10 years. Jack worked quietly every day, packing his lunch, leaving wife Berniece home to worry about him in all the heat. It finally got to his biggest problem at Gilmer Cemetery. He had cut so much brush and needed it all piled up. I am not sure how he heard about the "chain gang" of prisoners from the Iowa State Pen in Ft. Madison that lived 20 miles away at the Mt. Pleasant Mental Health Facility; he was able to get their help one day. They could not use any tools, just lift brush onto a huge long pile inside the entire east fence of the cemetery. Jack phoned me that morning they were coming, but Verda's husband really convinced her that she had no business being snoopy to "go see them". Next day I drove out and Jack explained the "show and tell", and I took one picture of the main driveway down the middle in 1997 (which is the photo above). Saddest thing was the township trustees never made any follow through spraying and once the brush was gone and things opened up to the sunlight, the buck brush and multiflora rose really took off.

In 2003 I heard the cattle were back in the cemetery and April 6, 2004, two of us "genies" went bobbing along across the harvested bean field. Up popped four deer to lead the way. They quickly disappeared, but there was so much brush we two made no attempt to even crouch down and enter at the open gate.

What is new since? The fence is all fixed now, a 4-H club had worked and all the brush is out of the cemetery and burned, one of the trustees took a Bachtold stand-up mower on big wheels and mowed and a couple in their late 60s took pictures of all the moss-covered stones and they are on the Jefferson County IAGenWeb website alphabetically under Gilmer Cemetery.

- Verda J. Baird, 2019.

This page was created on 3 March 2003, and updated on 2 February 2019. This page may be copied and used for personal purposes but can not be republished nor used for commercial purposes without the author's written permission.

I am the County Coordinator and the Webmaster, the one who is responsible for the IAGenWeb project for Jefferson County, Iowa. Please contact me if you would like to contribute to this database or if you note any problems with these pages.

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