The Ottumwa Courier

October 10, 2012

Van Buren cemeteries full of history, stories


HEDRICK — It was good to honor Wendy Jamison, the keeper of some of our old Van Buren cemeteries, in the Sept. 27 Courier.

There was much history in the 1830s when the cemeteries were in use and part of our state was being charted. Reading materials are on display at the cemetery west of Birmingham. Just start looking, and you can find the tombstones and headstones of Ann Rutledge’s mother and her siblings. Ann was the fiancée of Abraham Lincoln. She died in Illinois, and her mother and five children moved to a farm west of Birmingham. During the Civil War, President Lincoln called on a brother of Ann’s to fill a position.

The historic cemeteries were still in use in the last years of the 1830s, and a fire was burning between the Territory of Iowa and the State of Missouri. Missouri wanted the lower part of Van Buren County and much of Lee County, plus they stole a honey tree. The conflict went on for two or three years, and in latter years it became know as the Honey War. How did it end? You guessed it. The Hawkeyes won.

Jerry Smith