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                                                               Lawton Cemetery
                                                              Forest Township,  Richland County, Wisconsin  USA


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 marker.
    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 Daniel Buchanan.

    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:
            "Sleep on Alfred and take thy rest,
             God took 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,
             Can harm 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:
            "The fairest bud that flowery nature knows,
             Oft here 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 notice.

S. F.

** 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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