Cemetery inventory to be presented Dec. 8

The Clay County Historic Preservation Commission (CCHPC) is pleased to announce the completion of its 2008 Cemetery Inventory.  Compiled by Nancy Carlsen of Vermillion, this remarkable nine-volume work contains a variety of information about the 28 formal cemeteries and all known Native American and Territorial Era unmarked graves and cemeteries located within Clay County.

A special event to dedicate and distribute the Cemetery Inventory will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 10:30 a.m., in the County Commissioners' Room at the Clay County Courthouse in Vermillion.  Everyone is welcome to attend.

Five complete sets of this nine-volume work have been prepared.  To make the information more easily accessible to people throughout the county, sets will be available for research at the Austin-Whittemore House in Vermillion and at both the Vermillion and Wakonda Public Libraries.  The CCHPC set will be housed at the Office of the Register of Deeds at the Clay County Courthouse under the supervision of the Clay County Commissioners.  A fifth set, prepared for the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office in fulfillment of the funding obligation, will be located at the South Dakota State Archives in Pierre.

At the Dec. 8 ceremony, the CCHPC will deliver complete sets of the Inventory to representatives of each of these organizations, and formally dedicate the work to Cleo Erickson and to Verla and Stanley Knudson for their untiring efforts "to preserve the past for future generations."

Volume 1 of the Inventory contains miscellaneous Introductory Material, including the table of contents, cross-references to various names used for county cemeteries and churches, township indexes and maps, and a directory of current cemetery sextons or contact people.  A copy of Rick Harnois's entire 1991 cemetery report to the Clay County Historic Preservation Commission and a copy of the Olds-Grosse Funeral Home Records are included primarily as research tools for descendants and genealogists.  Selected statutes and regulations governing cemeteries and human remains and a partial bibliography complete the Introductory Material.

In Volumes 1–8, a separate "chapter" is devoted to each of the county's 28 formal cemeteries.  The documentation for each cemetery includes a locational map, a compilation of writings with direct quotes from historical texts, alphabetical burial lists composed by Verla and Stanley Knudson and/or others, and miscellaneous resource material.  1989 surveys by Rick Harnois consisting of plats, deeds, and drawings of each stone are included for six of the cemeteries.  Unmarked graves and cemeteries are treated in the final chapter of Volume 8.  Volume 9 contains maps and photographic panoramas of each cemetery within its environment during the four years covered by this study.

In preparing the Inventory, Nancy Carlsen researched and compiled many of the existing written records, wrote compiler's notes, created numerous maps, photographed and prepared the panoramas, designed and layed out the presentation, typed and printed much of the material, and assembled the volumes.  This exceptionally attractive and detailed work is the result of a labor or love.  As a descendant of pioneers who settled near Spirit Mound, and with members of five generations buried in Clay County cemeteries, Nancy considered it a privilege to work with this material for the benefit of everyone interested in local history or in the genealogy of local families. 

Preparation of the Inventory was partially funded by a grant from the National Park Service, Department of the Interior, through the South Dakota State Historic Preservation Office.

For additional information please contact Jim Wilson, CCHPC chair, at 605-624- 4579, or email whitewilson@msn.com. 

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