Cemeteries? The Grundy County Conservation Board manages cemeteries? That's right! Present on these two cemeteries are native prairie remnants that give visitors a glimpse of what Grundy County looked like before settlement began in 1853.
Beaver Township Cemetery & Prairie
The stones on this 3-acre area have been lost and destroyed over time, but prairie vegetation that was present when early pioneers were laid to rest there still remains. Actually, the stones were moved to the center of the cemetery years ago to allow the plowing and smoothing of the cemetery thus facilitating the "regular" mowing common in the majority of cemeteries today. While in this state, the Fern General Store burned and the cemetery records stored there were lost as well. The stones remained in the middle of the cemetery. No plowing or smoothing of the area ever took place. Ironically, fire, the tool that saves the prairie through suppressing competition and releasing nutrients saved this prairie from destruction in the form of this store tragedy. A stone and bronze marker containing the last names of people believed buried there stands in one corner. The remainder of the area is managed by the Conservation Board to maintain and enhance the native grasses and flowers that are found there. This management includes controlled burns in the spring every two or three years to eliminate woody vegetation and stimulate prairie growth.
Melrose Township Cemetery
Once the site of a Methodist Church, the building has long been gone but native grasses and flowers remain. The cemetery and stones are well cared for and interesting stories can be gleaned from a study of the dates and names found on them. The east third of the area remains undisturbed and contains the finest representative remnant of native prairie found to date in Grundy County! The area is managed by controlled burns in the spring and the Conservation Board involvement is one of consultation and public interpretive walks offered by our staff.