SMALLPOX CEMETERY, GARDEN VALLEY TOWNSHIP, WI
Updated: Aug 28
DATE(S) VISITED: AUG 25, 2023
LOCATION: ALMA CENTER, WI
This little smallpox cemetery is surrounded by a white fence where several large trees stand like sentinels, looking over the plot and shading those that rest here. Established in 1873, and located north west of Garden Valley Township, it primarily contains the remains of victims of the smallpox epidemic that ravaged the area during that time.
On arriving here the first thing that you notice is the sheer tranquility and sense of peace. Whoever chose this spot certainly made sure it was put somewhere very isolated as to protect the spread of infection. The landowners that live nearby are now the custodians and look after the cemetery.
After a little research it seems that there are possibly 12 graves at this location:
Isaac House: Born 1828 Died 2-24-1873
Eliza A House: Born 7-14-1823 Died May 19, 1904.
Roxanna Edmonds. Born January 25, 1832 Died February 1, 1873 (stone is most probably mis-marked 1872). Roxanna was the wife of G.W. Edmunds.
Eliza Beth Monroe (nee House). Born April 19, 1858 Died February 22, 1873. Eliza wife of C. L. Monroe.
Three small un-engraved wooden markers are located near the Isaac and Eliza House graves. These maybe the location of the graves for the 3 House children?
Five small wooden un-engraved markers are located in the center of the park about 10 feet east of the House markers. These are probably the location of the graves for Mrs. Samuel Peters, and four of her children.
These two stone markers have no engraving. Further research has not revealed anything regards if these are burial markers or not?
This stone is resting underneath the large tree on the north east side of the cemetery. We were not sure if this was once a burial marker or not?
Doctors were called the day the first case appeared at Mr. House's residence in Garden Valley. Dr. Hamilton of Alma Center called it fair and square small-pox and no one was allowed to go there, and all were kept away that had not been exposed. "No further steps, of course, were taken, as the residence of Isaac House, where the first case appeared was at least one-half mile from any main road, and a good sized warm house. A better place for a pest house would have been hard to find, but Mrs. Peters, a neighbor who was there attending the sick at Mr. House's was taken sick, and would go home, and in consequence, exposed her whole family. As their house was a cold one, during those severe storms in the last part of February. I believe five all died at the residence of Samuel Peters, out of the nine cases there, and also five died at Mr. House's, making ten in all I believe." This was written by the Garden Valley correspondent. The newspapers of that era indicate burials were often made during the middle of the night when there was little travel on the highways. A crier was usually sent ahead to announce to travelers that a small pox "corpse" was approaching. Family of the House's remember this night time burial. ~ Badger State Banner, Black River Falls, WI, March 22, 1873