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                                                     Wildermuth Cemetery
                                                                          AKA Morman, Newkirk Cemetery
                                     Willow Township, Richland County, Wisconsin  USA                                       

Tales The Tombstones Tell - Republican Observer October 27, 1955

        A Latter Day Saints Cemetery

    Entirely covered with a rank growth of bushes, vines, plum trees and an over abundance of poison ivy, there lies hidden from view, a Mormon or Latter Day Saints cemetery in the town of Willow. A burial has not been made there in 25 years. This cemetery is what is known as the Wildermuth cemetery and in it are buried a number of members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    How come the cemetery? It is a strange and interesting story which dates back some 100 years or more.

    The story of the coming of the Latter Day Saints, or Mormons as they are often called, to Richland county, begins back in the mid 40s or even back to l830. The Latter Day Saints or Mormons, was founded in New York in 1830 and an attempt was made by Joseph Smith Jr. to establish a colony in Wisconsin. After the trouble at Nauvoo, Illinois, when Joseph Smith Jr. lost his life in 1844, many of his followers scattered to other towns in Illinois and Wisconsin.  Rumors began to trickle in including that polygama was advocated by Brigham Young and others. A number of the new converts withdrew their fellowship from Brigham Young and chose Joseph Smith III as their leader. Among these were David Wildermuth. David, Ruben, and Cyrus Newkirk and William Cline. It was a bold move as they had cut themselves off from the organized church.

    At a meeting held at the David Wildermuth home and later at Cyrus Newkirk's flour mill, a new organization got off to a good start. This meeting was near Blanchardville. Zarahemia, City God, was the name taken back in the 1850s for their community. Its center, a school house, was located on the William Cline farm. That was Blanchardville in its beginning. It was there too that David Wildermuth and his wife Anna took up their home back in 1846 and it was there a son died and was buried. Mrs. Wildermuth before her marriage was a Anna Newkirk.

    William Cline moved to Richland county in 1860. David Wildermuth, a Saint, who seemed to be a leader of the Blanchardville Mormons, came to Richland county together with members of his family and the family of Cyrus Newkirk and others.

    The above sketch is to introduce some of the folks who are buried in the Wildermuth cemetery in the town of Willow.

    David Wildermuth from whom the burying place takes its name, was born in Ohio December 17, 1803. There he grew to manhood and was married in 1831 to Anna Newkirk, who was born in Ohio, March 3, 1814. They moved to Coles county, Illinois in 1835, to Lafayette county, Wisconsin, in 1845, then to the state of Iowa, back Lafayette county and in the spring of 1856 they started with ox teams for Richland county where be entered land and made their future home. Others came from Lafayette county until there was quite a settlement of Latter Day Saints in the area surrounding the Wildermuth home in section 7. Religious services were held in the homes, outdoor services in the summer.

    Death began to enter the ranks and the need for a burial ground
caused the Wildermuth cemetery to come into being. A site was selected and burials made. Today the plot is over grown with bushes and to gain entrance to it is quite difficult. We managed through much effort to take a look at the tombstones, or at least some of them; so thick were the vines and bushes that a stone could not be seen except from a distance of a few feet, so some stones might have been missed.

    On one of the stones was this: "Myrta L. Daughter of E. G. and J. A. Wildermuth, died Jan. 29, 1863, aged 2 years, 3 months, 8 days."
Lorin, Died Jan 22, 1865, aged 3 years, 9 months and 17 Days.
     The marker for Lorin bears the earliest date. Jan. 22, 1865, so that no doubt was the first burial there.

    Other stones in the cemetery are for Cyrus Newkirk, born in 1800, and for his wife Catherine, born in 1799 and died in 1880.

    Another stone bore the name of Horace Newkirk, born 1866, died in 1930. This, according to dates on the stores, was the last burial made there, 25 years ago.

    Then there were markers for infant daughters of Wm. and A. Mathews.

    There was one for William Cline who died on August 8, 1870, age 68 years.

    One for Isaac G. Newkirk born July 3, 1834, and passed on October 16, 1910. He was a member of Co. D. 11th Regiment Wisconsin Infantry. According to government records he entered service Feb. 28, 1865, and was mustered out Sept. 4, 1865. Many other Richland County men belonged to Co. D; Jesse E. Miller, Richiand Center, was the captain and all the officers were from this county.

    On the stone was also the name Lourenea, born November 25, 1846, and died September 11, 1916. No other information was given.

    Then there was the monument for Mr. Wildermuth and his wife. It was of stone cut to resemble a tree and on it was inscribed; "David C. Wildermuth, born December 17, 1803, died April 6, 1889. "Ann, his wife, born March 3, 1814, died January 12, 1903."

    On the same stone was an inscription for their daughter Louisa, born July 9, 1851, died February 21, 1895.

    That's the story of the Wildermuth cemetery and the little band of Latter Day Saints or Mormons as they were called who came to Richland county, took up their homes here and some of them found a last resting place in the little cemetery not far from the Pleasant Ridge school house in the town of Willow.

    Descendants of the Wildermuths, Clines and Newkirks now reside in Richland county.

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