IOOF cemetery of Rock Falls

The first burial ground in old Rapids City was located on the south east corner of the present First and Dixon Avenues, the land north of that being the south limit of the Richard Arey farm. It covered an area of several lots along First Avenue.

Tradition says that it was originally an old Indian burial ground. As the town grew, the lots were sold for building purposes. Deacon Richard Arey lived in the house on the corner for many years after disposing of his farm to commercial interests. After changing hands several times, the corner lot came into the hands of Mrs. Hazel Jensen in September of 1918. Later an addition was made to the house; and when in the process of excavating, workmen dug up old bones and Indian artifacts. For several years, many of the old grave stones remained - one of which had an angel on the top of it. They were removed or destroyed. No one remembers what happened to them. Some of the graves were removed to the new cemetery as there is a record of a death in 1844.

Mrs. Jensen's father, Anthony Corcoran, and his friend Mike McNamara, as boys, used to hide behind the grave stones on a Saturday night when ladies walked along the board walk going to town and would jump out to frighted them. Then the ladies would lift up their long skirts and flee in their high-top pointed shoes. There are a number of similar stories of townspeople running past that cemetery.

The first burial in that old cemetery was Mrs. Susanna L. (Marsh) Durant in October of 1839. She was the first wife of William W. Durant who came to Rapids City in 1838 and established the first dry goods store in a little shanty near the Atkins residence. Another stone is remembered to have had the name Smith on it.

In October of 1883, the Rock Falls IOOF cemetery became a reality when the Odd Fellows organization purchased ten acres of the Cook estate, one quarter of a mile east of the city limits from Benjamin LeFevre, and had it staked out in good sized burial lots. The land was bought for $125.00 per acre. John D. Arey, son of the pioneer Deacon Richard Arey, surveyed and plotted the grounds. The chart he made is dated May 20, 1883. The grounds were fenced in, trees of different kinds for shade and ornamental purposes were planted, roads made, and a well sunk. The first internment was that of William W. Worman, father of Thomas J. Worman, who was buried there before the grounds were staked out. He died April 24, 1883. Shortly after that a Mrs. Jones was buried there. The third lot was sold to Thomas Stephenson and the purchase price was ten dollars. The Worman and Jones graves were later removed to other parts of the cemetery.

Many of the pioneers of Coloma township are buried there -- Emmons, Worthingtons, Barbers, Goodells, Bakers, Woodworths, Areys, Butlers, Nims, Endertons, Atkins, Morrills, Wrights, and others.

In the 1960's the IOOF purchased the remaining acres between the cemetery and the Dixon Road. Most of the trees, shrubs and plants have been removed to facilitate the grass mowing. On Decoration Day, the cemetery is beautiful with the many flowers brought by friends and relatives for the graves of their loved ones, and all the graves of the military men from 1812 to present are carefully marked with appropriate flags.

The records at the cemetery date from 1916. The earlier records are believed to have been lost in a fire.


Tombstones are indexed by the first letter of the last name. Click on one of the letters below to see who is buried in this cemetery.

Unknown  A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W 

These names were collected by Jennifer Slaney during the spring of 1998. The complete list is on file at the Sterling Public Library.