Forest Township, Richland County,
Tales The Tombstones
Tell - Republican Observer - December 17, 1959
The Lawton Cemetery
A burial ground, now unused, is what is known as the
Lawton cemetery in the town of Forest. It is located just at the edge
of Vernon county, across the highway from the Tunnelville school house
on state highway 131 between Viola and La Farge. We doubt that another
burial will ever be made in this hillside cemetery. The last burial,
according to the markers, was made in 1936, when James W. Lawton was
laid to rest. Another later day burial was in 1909. The hillside is
quite steer and it must have been a task to make burials there.
On the top of the hill close by, burials were made
many, many years ago long before the coming of the white man to the
Kickapoo Valley. In fact hundreds of years ago the Mound Builders, who
preceeded the Indians, buried their dead and erected mounds here. When
the Kickapoo railroad was being built between Viola and La Farge it was
necessary to pierce a hill on the Lawton farm and build a tunnel
through limestone rocks. On the hill was located a sacred burial
ground. The mounds were dug into the mementos buried hundreds of years
ago with the dead, were carried away and in some instances even bones
were taken. This was back in 1896. These mounds are called "Indian"
mounds though they were made by a race known as "Mound Builders" and
their mounds are found in many places in Richland county, especially
along the Wisconsin river in the towns of Orion, Eagle and Richwood.
The farm, upon which the cemetery of which we write
is on, is a pioneer farm now owned by Ray Lawton and his son Harold.
The farm has been in the Lawton family since 1855, Isaac Lawton being
the first owner. He and his wife Jennie, came to Richland county in
1855 from Waukesha county and took up their home in Forest township and
here they spent the remainder of their lives and both were laid to rest
in the little hillside cemetery on the farm.
Isaac R. Lawton, a son, also came to Forest township
in 1855. He was married in 1856 to Malissa Southworth. He served in the
Civil War as did a number of his brothers. One of their sons, James W.
Lawton, was born on the farm in August, 1860. He was raised upon the
farm and attended the country school. In 1883 he married Sarah E.
Saubert, who was born in Vernon county in 1864. Both are now at rest in
the little cemetery. Mr. Lawton died in 1936 and his wife
preceeded him in death, having passed away in 1918, according to the
One of their sons was Ray, who was born in 1884 and
became owner of this excellent farm. Ray is very much alive and now
resides in Arizona, and the old homestead farm ownership is shared by
his son Harold. Ray married Vesta Greenwood of Sauk county, the wedding
taking place on June 15, 1906. She too is still among the living. Ray
served as assemblyman from this county at one time, serving to the
satisfaction of all.
But what of the sacred spot on the hillside where
members of the Lawton clan with others sleep away the years.
One of the markers is for Watson S. Hickox, who died
in 1872 at the age of 57. A flag waves here indicating that he was a
Civil War veteran. On the same lot is a marker for his son, William,
who also died in 1872. There is a marker for Lucy Buchanan, wife of
Close by is buried an infant daughter of D. H. and
L. Hanson, whose span of life was short as her birth and death are
given as 1909. Another youngster to be buried here is Alfred G. Taylor
who passed on July 11, 1865, at the age of one year, 10 months and
three days. His parents were J. H. and E. Taylor. A little verse for
him is carved upon the stone and reads:
Alfred and take thy rest,
thee home when He thought best."
Another marker is for Mary J. Green, who was
born in 1824 and died in 1907. Another is for George W. Lawton who died
in 1870 at the age of 30. He was a member of Co. H, 5th Wis. regiment
in the Civil War. He gave Vernon county as his residence when he
enlisted June 20, 1861.
A marker for Isaac and Jennie Lawton catches the
rays of an afternoon sun. She died in May, 1870, at the age of 69, and
he passed on in August, 1869, at the age of 75. Upon the marker it says:
"No pain nor
grief nor anxious fear,
the peaceful sleepers here."
There are a number of sunken spots in this burying
ground indicating that a burial had been made there. Time and the
elements have made some markers unreadable. One for instance is for a
lady who died August 16, 1867. Her given name was Virginia but her
maiden name could not be made out. **
See Note 1 **
On the marker for William Lawton, who died in 1870
at the age of one year, is this:
bud that flowery nature knows,
unfolds, but withers ere it blows."
Bradley P. Balcom and his wife Charlotte, have a
marker. He was born, the stone says, in 1816 and died in 1900. His wife
was born in 1817 and passed down the long road in 1905.
On a monument, which stands in this cemetery, is
this: "Lawton, veteran 1861-1865," and on the headstones one is marked
"Mother" and the other "Father."
Thus it is and thus it always will be. Hundreds of
years have passed, since the day the Mound Builders laid their dead to
rest upon the brow of the hill adjoining the cemetery. Then came the
pioneers to this rich land and here too they died and some of them
found rest upon the hillside.
A flag, the Stars and Stripes, floats from a pole in
the school yard across the highway, and boys and girls, bless their
hearts, there learn their lessons. It was recess time and no doubt but
that the youngsters, and the teacher also, were wondering what those
strangers were doing up on the hillside.
It was thought some weeks back that these articles
had been finished but they seem to have not come to an end and will
continue to be published whenever something of interest comes to our
** Note 1 ** This lady is
Virginia E. Bennett Lawton, first wife of Diamond Alonzo Lawton
and daughter of Jacob and Eliza Bennett. 5/3/2011 DThompson
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