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Search leads to East Delavan Union Cemetery

Donna Milton /Contributor

(Published July 16, 2007, 4:11 p.m.)

I am writing to you in regard to the story, by Donna Lenz Wright, about the East Delavan Union Cemetery that appeared in your paper on June 4.

My maternal great-grandparents, Nels and Regina Nelson, are buried there. I have had an interest in that cemetery since my mother and I visited it in the mid-1980s.

My mother has since passed away, but she told me many times about the Sundays she spent in the Lake Geneva area as a child. (She grew up in Downers Grove, Ill.)

In fact, her grandmother, Regina, and her daughter, Anna, (my mother's mother and my grandmother) operated a boarding house together for several years, in Williams Bay.

It was also the place where Anna met her future husband, Julius Foss (mother's father and my grandfather). Consequently, that whole area holds a great deal of interest for me.

So the other day when I was rummaging around in my mother's safety deposit box, I was immediately captivated by an envelope that said "Information and papers about East Delavan Cemetery, Wisconsin," handwritten by my mother.

In the envelope I found a certificate or bill of sale, for Lot 151, to the heirs of Nels Nelson, for $3. It is dated Sept. 16, 1912 and signed by Mrs. J.S. MacDougall, who was apparently the president of the association at the time. It was also signed by someone else whose handwriting is so faint I cannot read it. There is also a contract for the perpetual care of Lot 151 wherein my grandmother (Mrs. J.J. Foss) paid the association $25 on June 20, 1946. It is counter-signed by S.M. Kirshner, president, F.A. Kirshner, treasurer and witnessed by Miriam E. Utt and Josephine Kirshner.

In addition I found something else that was very interesting-to me at least.

My grandmother apparently wrote the association in December of 1950, inquiring about some remaining, unused graves in Lot 151 and the possibility of their being sold, and she also wanted to know if the perpetual care was actually being done. A Mr. John Ingersoll wrote her a three-page letter in return answering her questions. That letter, in its envelope (with a 3 cent first class stamp on it) was in the larger envelope I found in the safety deposit box.

All of this was very intriguing to me and I began to wonder how I could find out more about this cemetery.

So, I did the obvious-I "Googled" it.

I mean, don't we "Google" everything today?

Lo and behold, the very first item listed there was the article by Donna Lenz Wright, and to top it off, that article was written earlier this very month! I couldn't believe it.

What an incredible coincidence.

The author sent this e-mail from her home in Richardson, Texas.

***

Sandy Behn continues her efforts to reorganize the East Delavan Union Cemetery. Anyone with information is encouraged to call her at 245-1154.

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