A visit to Green’s Prairie Cemetery

old tombstones in a prarie

Green's Prairie Cemetery

Green's Prairie Cemetery's sign and an oak tree

Green's Prairie Cemetery's Sign (left), In the Shade of the Oak Tree (right)

yellow flowers with yellow centers

Jerusalem Artichoke

Yesterday we went for a tour of Green’s Prairie Cemetery. It is about 15 minutes from our house, over the border in Green County. There are two veterans from the War of 1812 buried there along with veterans from the Civil War and their families. There are believed to be 137 people buried in Green’s Prairie Cemetery. The first burial was in 1845 and this was before Wisconsin was a state in 1849. The last burial was in 1917. It is believed that the families in the early 1900s started burying their loved ones in church cemeteries rather than non-denominational cemeteries like Green’s Prairie Cemetery. Once it was no longer used as an active burial site the cemetery was no longer tended and cattle often wandered in and knocked over headstones.

birds nest with eggs in it and a spider

A Bird's Nest Hidden in Sumac (left), Garden Orbweaver (right)

tombstones

Headstones Surrounded by Flowering Spurge and Big Blue Stem

By 1926 John Stewart (the third) decided the cemetery needed to be protected . He solicited help from other families who had ancestors buried there. The cemetery was cleaned up and fenced in.

close-up of a tombstone with hands holding

Close-up of a Headstone (left), Headstones with Native Plants (right)

In 1992 John Ochsner, a Prairie Enthusiast member, started to do controlled burns in the cemetery prairie. This encouraged the tall grass prairie to thrive. The prairie has been burned yearly, except one, since he started. They use metal shields to avoid damaging the headstones.

tombstone in the prairie

Headstone from the 1800s

Green’s Prairie Cemetery is the last acre of tall grass prairie that was once the 5,000-acre Green and York Prairies.

tombstone in the prairie

A Family Tombstone in the Prairie

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3 Responses to A visit to Green’s Prairie Cemetery

  1. Peter W says:

    Thanks Julie, beautiful and thought-provoking photos and account.

    I am now contemplating trying a controlled burn in my office.

  2. I did my own take on a prairie cemetery this summer too:

    http://portraitsofwildflowers.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/a-one-day-departure/

    I’ve enjoyed reading yours.

    • Steve I read your post on visiting a prairie cemetery and found the juxtaposition of the flowering prairie with old headstones against the new homes very striking. I am sorry to hear that the natural places around you are disappearing. I am lucky to live in an area where preservation is valued. (Not that we don’t have development because we do.) There are many people in this area who are busy protecting and restoring their native landscape. I have showcased a few of them in my blog this year. In addition native landscaping is a growing trend. Several new libraries were built in the area… one next to a prairie restoration who chose to landscape with native plants. In Madison there is a business park where native prairies were planted throughout the entire area creating a large prairie with walking paths.

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