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                                                  Willow Valley Cemetery
                                                       Ithaca Township, Richland County, Wisconsin  USA

Tales The Tombstones Tell - Republican Observer - December 20, 1956

                                               Willow Valley Cemetery

    The Willow Valley cemetery over in the town of Ithaca, is an early burying ground. It was first called the Derrickson cemetery and a part of it set aside by the Derrickson family and by them called the Derrickson Reservation.

    It is a well kept cemetery. Buried therein are the early settlers of the vicinity; frequent burials are still made there.

    The first burials were made therein back in the long ago; 107 years in fact. They were children of Thomas P. and Rachel L. Derrickson and, according to the tombstone upon the lot, died October 6, 1849. They were James T. and Hester A. Derrickson. Hester was two years of age, and James was two months and one day. James, the infant, was the first to die and was soon followed in death by his brother, Hester. James was also the first white child to be born in what is now the town of Ithaca. His birth took place on August 5, 1849.

    Mr. and Mrs. Derrickson came to Ithaca in the fall of 1848 and located on section 30 where they settled and made the place their future home. Coming with them was John Walker, who settled on section 31, Mr. Walker was a Methodist exhorter, and for a number of years preached in the neighborhood and worked upon his farm. No doubt but that Mr. Walker officiated at the last rites for the Derrickson children when they were laid to rest and he might have used as a text "Suffer little children to come unto Me for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven." There could have been only a few folks present, for at that time there were but a small number of families for miles and miles around. It indeed was a pioneer burial in the wilderness at the time of the hunter's moon.

    J. G. Marden, a soldier boy, has a monument in the Willow Valley cemetery, but we doubt if he is buried there. He died at Chattanooga, Tennessee, on May 18, 1865, aged 19 years, 6 months and 16 days. Mr. Marden was a member of the 6th Battery, Light Artillery; enlisted December 29, 1863, giving his residence as Sextonville. He served in many important engagements; took ill at Chattanooga, sickened and died. In the 6th Battery were many Richland county men; led by Captain Henry Dillon of Lone Rock. Thomas R. Hood of Lone Rock was also a captain. The 6th Battery was formed at Lone Rock and the shop of Mr. Dillon which was used as a recruiting station, still stands at Battery Park. Upon the tombstone for Mr. Marden appears the inscription for his wife who died November 7, 1872.

    Alexander Black, a native of Blacksburg, Virginia, first came to Richland county in 1854. He was born in 1800. He and Mrs. Black were the parents of 12 children. One of the sons, Harvey, was a soldier in the Mexican War. About 1849 he went to Chicago, purchased a horse and set out to find a home for his parents. He went to Green Bay; down to Mineral Point where he purchased land in Richland county, then returned through the southern states to Virginia the entire trip from Chicago being made on horseback.

    In 1854 Alexander Black, the father, in company with another son Oscar F. Black came to Ithaca to take a look at the land purchased by Harvey; liked the land so well that he bought a large tract and moved his family to the new home where he resided until September 17, 1872, when he died. His wife  passed away on May 27, 1880. On his tombstone it says:
        "A kind father with firm trust in God.
         May his children emulate example."

     The son of Oscar F. Black mentioned above, became a prominent Richland county attorney. He is the father of Attorney O. D. Black and Mrs. A. P. Pier, Richland Center residents.

    Members of the Poole family are resting beneath the sod. One of these, Byron W. Poole, who was born in 1857, died in 1936. He became mayor of this city, register of deeds. He was a good citizen and had many friends. His wife Alice, a daughter of Mrs. Harry Pier, and a son Earle, live in Richland Center. Another daughter, Mrs. Hild, is residing in Phoenix, Arizona.

    On the monument of Milessa Poole it says she was born September 8, 1895, married Wilford Brockwell January 12, 1916, died at Richmond, Va., October 24, 1921, and was buried in the Salem church cemetery, Charles City, Virginia.

    Mr. and Mrs. Benjamine Benbow and some of their children have found rest in this cemetery. Mr. and Mrs. Benbow were the parents of Mrs. I. A. Cleveland, who taught many a Richland Center youngster the art of piano playing. Mr. Cleveland was the owner of a drug store in Richland Center, for many years. Moving to Chicago to be near their son Frank, they both passed on and were buried in Chicago.

    The Lambersons, Mr. and Mrs. J. G. Lamberson, two daughters and two sons are in the Willow Valley cemetery. Mr. Lamberson was born, so the tombstone records, in 1846 and died in 1927. Mr. Lamberson served the county as assemblyman it one time. He was a member of the 6th Wisconsin Battery.

    His wife saw the light of day in 1849 and her death came in 1926. A son Ward, is buried on the lot, as are twin daughters, Blanche and Maude, who were born August 15, 1880. Maude preceeded her sister to death.

    Blanche married J. Forseyth Smith, pastor of the local Presbyterian church. She was city librarian for some years before her death.

    Another well known resident of Ithaca and later of Richland Center, who is buried in this cemetery was S. I. Freeborn, born in 1833, and died in 1895. He owned and operated a nursery and apple orchard in Ithaca for many years. Mr. and Mrs. Freeborn moved from the farm to Richland Center where they erected a fine brick house on the corner of East Court and South Sheldon streets. It is now the property of Mr. and Mrs. John Kirkpatrick. Coming to Richland Center with their parents were Rena and Arthur Freeborn.

    On the stone of Mrs. Eliza Smith, who died in 1896, are these words:
        "Beneath this stone I've placed in trust,
         Not the immortal but the dust
         Of one on earth to me most dear,
         Who learned in youth her God to fear."

    Buried in the cemetery are members of many well known families, Simpson, Shookman, Davis, Worth, Schoonover, Grover, Holtz, Anderson, Edson, Dow, Beran, Howe and Smith are some of the names appearing upon the stones.

    Walter Albert Smith, born February 21, 1922; and died June 29, 1947, is the brief inscription on one of the stones. Mr. Smith was a World War II soldier.

     A stone marks the grave of one of the writer's boyhood friends, Audley Davis. We were playmates, school chum and near neighbors in the long ago. Audley was a son of Mr. and Mrs. William Davis. He went west where he made his home, in the closing years of his life, residing at Gresham, Oregon, when death came. They brought him home and boyhood friends carried him to his last resting place in the Willow Valley cemetery. We paused at his grave on a recent visit to this city of the dead. Audley was a good boy.

    On the gravestone of Caroline Zintz, who died July, 25, 1881, it says:
            "Angels whisper that our sister is in lands
             of peace and rest,
             where we feel she's sweetly sleeping,
             safe on Jesus' breast."

    Henry Short, well known in the early days, was born November 13, 1836, and died August 27, 1923. Mrs. Short died in 1893.

    A bit of history concerning the Willow Valley cemetery would not be complete without mention of the Rev. Simon Spyker and his wife, Rosanna, both lived to a ripe old age. Rev. Spyker was 86 years of age at the time of his passing and his wife was 71. Rev. Spyker organized a Lutheran church in 1862. It had 14 members as follows: Samuel Davis and wife; S. C. Davis and wife; Samuel Stofer and wife; J. G. Marden and wife; Harriet Cass; Rosanna Spyker and O. V. Davis. In 1869 it became a Congregational church and met for worship in the school house; later building a church of their own. On the monument it says, speaking of Rev. Spyker: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that sleepeth. 1 Cor. 15:20." For Mrs. Spyker there is engraved on the monument:

        "Yet again we hope to meet
         Thee when life's fleeting days are o'er."

    A monument for A. F. Cass stands in the cemetery. It says that Mr. Cass was born October 14, 1824, at Stanstead, Quebec, Canada, died in 1906 aged 81 years. Buried at Mt. Hope cemetery, San Diego, Calif., James M. Cass was also born in Canada on March 24, 1808. He was married Feb.19, 1829, to Mary Tapin. In 1847 they started with teams for Wisconsin, landed in Spring Green, and in 1851 came to Richland county and Mr. Cass began the erection of a crude mill on Pine river, operated it a number of years and then sold out to William Bowen and it became known as Bowen's Mill. Another member of the Cass family, James W. Cass, was born in 1858 and died in 1912. On his monument is carved a pretty verse, it reads:
        "Warm summer's sun shine kindly here,
         Cold Wintry Wind blow softly here;
         Green sod above lie' light, lie light,
         Good night dear heart, good night, good night."

    On the stone of two worthy aged people who traveled life's road together for many a year, Mr. and Mrs. Wm. H. Davis. Mr. Davis lived to be 87 and Betsy, his wife, 81. He died in 1889 and she in 1885. On the stone it says:
        "Shielded and safe from sorrow."

S. F.

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