I live on a street just off of Mt.Vernon Road in Cedar Rapids (Mt. Vernon Road was once known as the Old Lincoln Highway). The neighborhood is like any other, until you turn the corner at 14th Avenue and onto Brockman Drive. Then it gets kind of creepy.
Every day I take my dog, Bindi, for a walk around the block, and though I have become accustomed to the blank space midway through the block between Brockman Drive and 38th Street, I sometimes stop and wonder about it.
A sign sits just off the road naming the space as “Brockman Cemetery.” I have always thought it odd that a cemetery would be placed mid-block in a residenti.al area like that. But that wasn’t the oddest part; from what I could see, there weren’t any tombstones.
I thought about venturing up the short hill to see if maybe the tombstones were the flat variety, but decided against it, just in case it was a real cemetery. (I might come face-to-face with a restless spirit.)
The other day as I was strolling past the cemetery, I decided to snap a photo and ask Mark Stoffer Hunter about it. (Mark works at the History Center and is an expert on the history of Cedar Rapids.)
I told him I looked up the Brockman Cemetery online (iagenweb.org), which stated, “Very little is known about this old cemetery. Nestled among a quiet Cedar Rapids neighborhood, there are no stones visible and only a little wooden sign indicating the presence of a cemetery.
“According to records in the Linn County Recorder’s office, the land was originally part of the property owned by W. L. & Ellen Brockman who in 1855 transferred 1 acre to Andrew F. Brockman, William F. Steward, Warren F. Brockman and John Robb to be used as a cemetery. It was recorded officially in the Linn County Recorder’s Office on September 1, 1862.
As of 1954 the only identifiable stone visible appears to have been that of two wives of Wm. Stewart: Ann Stewart, who died Mar. 23, 1847 at the age of 51 years; and Phebe Stewart, who died July 20, 1848 at the age of 31 years.”
Mark wrote back: “Not too much more is known about this beyond what you found already. I did a little more digging on it and found a connection to the cemetery with the old Dairydale School and Church which were both once located at the NE corner of Mt. Vernon Road and 34th Street SE (where Little Caesar’s Pizza is now). Apparently folks buried in Brockman were members of the Dairydale Church and went to the school.
Mark continued: “I wrote up some of this history and sent it to Linn County Conservation (which owns and oversees care of Brockman Cemetery) and they told me they were going to put up a new sign there with more history. I haven’t seen it put up yet so I will need to get back to them.
Always got the impression that Brockman Cemetery was essentially abandoned by the Civil War era but I love that the site is still preserved.
There were several of these little ‘family graveyards’ In what are now parts of Cedar Rapids, but many of the others were forgotten over time and new development was built where they once existed.”