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                                                               Coumbe Cemetery
                                                              Richwood Township, Richland County, Wisconsin  USA
                                           

Tales The Tombstones Tell  -  Republican Observer  -  August 9, 1956

                                                The Coumbe Cemetery

    John Coumbe, the first white settler of what is now Richland county came into this county in 1838, but did not remain for a long period as Indians were numerous and not at all friendly. Mr. Coumbe returned to the Muscoda area, but came back in 1840 to what is now the town of Richwood and remained until the time of his death. He set aside a site on his farm for cemetery purposes. Burials began to be made there in 1851 when James Carson was laid to rest. This plot of land, two or three acres, is now known as the Coumbe cemetery and in it sleep the long, long sleep, John Coumbe, members of his family and many of the pioneer settlers of that section of the county. Among the early settlers, whose names appear upon the stones are Richason, Appleby, Powers, Jones, Waneck, Leffler, Hayward, Crandall, Dillon and others.

    Civil and World Wars veterans are there. One of the World War veterans is Thomas Wallace, who entered service September 15, 1917 and died January 6, 1918 at Camp Pike, Ark. Three flags wave over the Crandall lot for there are buried three Civil War veterans, William, John and Wilson Crandall.

    David Dewey, who was born in Vermont in 1833, came to Richwood in 1854 but a year later moved to Sheboygan county, returning to Richwood in 1860 and took up his residence at Port Andrews. He served as engineer on Wisconsin river steam boats for some years and then bought mill property on Byrds Creek. He died on August 17, 1926. His wife was Ann Dudgen, who was born in 1828 and died January 9, 1903. On the cemetery lot is a stone for Dama Dewey, who died in 1881 at the age of 79. A verse on the stone reads:

        "My work is ended, my troubles are through;
         And now my dear children I bid them adeau."

    One of the early day store keepers at Port Andrews was William Richie, who was born in 1838 and died in 1919. He was a native of New York and served in the Civil War in Co. D 79th Regt. New York Volunteers. He conducted a general store in the village for many years. His wife, Lida, was born in 1848 and died in 19l9. Another name upon the is that of Isabelle Ritchie, born in 1840 and died in 1875.

    Another pioneer of Richwood was Myron Whitecomb who came there in 1844 and moved his family to their new home in 1845. The family consisted of his wife and three children. His personal property at that early day consisted of an "old horse, an old cow, an old sow, and three pigs, and 25 cents in cash." Thus, he and his family started pioneer life in a little cabin. He worked hard and laid by an estate. He raised, so it is said, the first frame barn in Richland county. He left his home in New York when he was 18 years of age, went south and is credited with hewing the first stick  of timber for the capital building in the state of Texas. He was born in New York in 1817. In 1840, in Indiana, he was married to Margaret Ann Carson.

    There is a tombstone in the Coumbe cemetery for Olive L. Pilling, who was the wife of Isaac Pilling. She died September 15, 1859. A verse on the stone reads:
        "She went not alone for on her breast
         A babe of an hour sleeps at rest."

    Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Isham, ran a hotel in Port Andrews years and years ago. Following the death of his wife Mr. Pilling remarried and for years ran a saw mill about a mile south of Eagle Corners and the place was known as Pilling's Mill. When Mr. Pilling passed on they buried him in the Muscoda cemetery. The family moved to Richland Center, residing for years and years in the little cottage two doors south of the Baptist church. Walter Pilling, who passed on within the last few years, lived alone in the house sometime prior to his death. The cottage stood at 346 North Main street, now the site of the Howard Hansen home erected within the past year.

    Dr. R. M. Miller, an old time physician, who is buried in the Coumbe cemetery, first came to Richland county in 1849 and with his brother, L. N. Miller, established a store Port Andrews in 1851. His family resided at Galena, Illinois, and in 1852 he brought them to Port Andrews. He practiced medicine until retirement in 1872. One of his sons, George, will be remembered as a citizen of Richland Center. He was known as "Candy" George Miller, selling his "pulled" candy at the county fair here for many years. Dr. Miller was born December 25, 1811 in Jefferson county, Ohio, and died on March 28, 1903. In 1837 he married  Elizabeth F. Phlager, who was born at Ft. Snelling, Minnesota, on June 3, 1822, and is said to be the first white girl to be born in that state. She died, so the tombstone says, in 1900.

    Two of the worthy pioneers of Richwood, who now rest in the Coumbe cemetery are Joseph Elliott and his wife, Mary, the former Mary F. Mulamphy. Mr. Elliott was born in Illinois, Nov. 1, 1829 and came to Richwood with his parents, Thomas and Sarah Elliott, in 1848 where he resided until his death. In 1851 he married Mary Mulamphy. Miss Mulamphy was the first person to teach school in Richland county according to history. She came from Highland in l848 and was hired to teach in the Orion village school. The school house, a log affair, was not completed so she opened school in the house of Capt. John R. Smith, one of the founders of the village; on June 5, 1848. She was hired to teach three months at $23 a month. She was a good teacher and was employed to teach the second term in 1849. Following their marriage in 1851 they resided in Orion for a time and then moved to Port Andrew where Mr. Elliott began to keep store in 1859 and continued until 1874 when they settled on a farm at the east limits of the village of Port Andrew.

    John Coumbe, the pioneer, the first white settler of Richland county, is buried in the cemetery which bears his name. Also is his wife Sarah,  together with other members of their family. Around them sleep their friends of the far off day. The monument on the Coumbe lot states that John Coumbe was born in Devonshire, England, March 25, 1808 and died May 2, 1882, aged 74 years. Mr. Coumbe was married in May 1849 to Sarah Palmer, a native of Kentucky, who came to Richland county with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Palmer, in 1848. The parents were both born in 1794, he on October 6 and his wife, Susannah, January 7. Mr. Palmer died August 29, 1862 and Mrs. Palmer, November 2, 1872. Also on the monument, which stands near the east line of the cemetery, are engraved the names of Thomas Coumbe, who died January 20, 1867, aged 89, and Christian, his wife, who died January 6, 1869 aged 86. They were the parents of John Coumbe. Much has been written about Mr. and Mrs. John Coumbe in the past. They were a worthy and honored couple. They raised a fine family of seven children, all now passed to their reward. Grandchildren and great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren of the pioneers remain in the land of the living.

    There are other pioneers in the Coumbe cemetery. Looking down upon them all is still something alive. It was there back in 1851, 105 years ago, when James Carson was laid to rest; it has witnessed every burial made there and bids fair to witness other similar scenes over the years that lie ahead. It is a giant elm tree, standing alone near the south line. It is, from all appearances, well over 150 years old. It was there when John Coumbe first came; it saw the Indian camps; saw white man come and the red man go.

    It guards well the portals of this burying ground.

S. F.

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