Located three miles south of Manchester on the northeast corner of Esmond Township on Wilkinson land, the Dow Cemetery has gone virtually unnoticed for many years.
The ladies extension club in Manchester originally put up a fence to border the area. Through the years, cows have knocked down the fence by rubbing against the posts, leaving the cemetery to blend into the surrounding landscape.
Determined by the earliest headstone to have been established in 1883, the cemetery consists of four markers, one with three names engraved, and a large, unmarked stone.
Among those listed on the original Esmond homestead map are Dow family members William, Lafayette, Benjamin, Lorenzo, Owen and Ozelous. Each man filed on a quarter section of land, making up the six quarters of the original Dow homestead.
Benjamin filed his claim on Nov. 6, 1880, with Nathan Dow, who would later become the husband of Grace Ingalls, sister of author Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Owen’s 2-year-old son Asa is buried in the cemetery, along with Jessie Abell (a daughter of L.F. Dow), Fredie, Gertie and Astellal Ellsworth and 30-year-old Anne E., wife of G.B. Dow.
“I can’t help but think that there are more graves out here,” said Esmond resident Marlin Clendening, who started the ball rolling with Rudy Waldner of Iroquois to get the cemetery marked.
Waldner went on the bus tour offered last August during the Harvey Dunn Plein Air Event and was surprised to learn that a cemetery was located in an area that he is quite familiar with.
“I’ve been trapping in this area for 30 years and never saw the cemetery,” Waldner said.
Clendening was aware of the cemetery and its plight, and he had been wondering what should be done about it.
When Waldner approached him with the question, “Marlin, why can’t we put up a sign?” the two agreed to pursue both a marker and a better fence to surround the graves.
De Smet economic director Rita Aughenbaugh was contacted, and a marker donated through Tad Flood of Lyle Signs.
Fence posts and wire were installed and, on May 14, the sign marking the area as the Dow Cemetery was erected by Clendening and Waldner.
Although most of the Dow family left the area many years ago, the resting place of their loved ones is once again protected because of the kindness of two men.
Posted on 05-31-2018
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