This public cemetery is located on private property in the NW section of Nebraska City. It is 0.2 mile to the northwest of the intersection of 19th street and Orchard Drive, in a cornfield. Please contact the Otoe County Genealogical Society prior to visiting the cemetery.
"Tucked away along the Missouri Pacific right-of-way, west of the Clifton Lawn cemetery road, north of Nebraska City, is a triangular piece of ground which contains the bodies of many of Otoe county's earliest residents. Once it was a good sized 'city of the dead,' but the coming of the railroad reduced it to village status. A few trees, a few modest tombstones, some long since overturned and broken, are all that remain between the strong wire fences erected by the railroad.
It was a later burial ground than the site now in the heart of city's business district. On the real estate records it was known as 'Elmwood Cemetery.' The records show that Joseph Anderson deeded the original cemetery to an association. John Kennedy later purchased 40 acres on which the burial ground was situated, but deeded a small plot of ground containing the graves and a roadway to the trustees, Absalom Tipton, David Beasley, and J.E. McCoy.
Then came the railroad. The burial ground was directly in the path of the steel rails. Bodies in the right-of-way were exhumed and removed to Wyuka, but the graves to the north of the tracks were left and are there to this day. Road builders forgot the remnant of the cemetery and passed it by. Soon even the residents of the city forgot where it was located, except for a few whose loved ones were buried there. Now most of these have joined the dead and a recent inquiry among the citizens failed to produce few who had even heard of the existence of the cemetery.
Many headstones have toppled over, others are so broken and battered the inscriptions are hard to decipher. One, a wooden board, is so battered by time and the elements that it appears to be a blank board. Most of the stones are the thin upright markers so popular from 1850 to 1870. Many of the graves are of children.
The oldest grave is that of Wm. J. Anderson, son of Joseph and Harriet, a child who died in February 1856, within 18 months of the recorded founding of Nebraska City. Some of the other graves contain the remains of Bell Beasley, daughter of Wm. and R. Beasley; Ensign Snowden, 10-day-old son of of T.W. Snowden; Joseph M. Tolle, 57, who died in 1873; Julian Tolle, 8-months-old babe; Andrew J. West, son of George P. West, a pioneer, and Wm. T. Hughs, 45, buried in 1863. One story is that Hughs was an old soldier whose body was returned to his old home for burial.
The cemetery is not easily accessible. Probably the best route is to take the North Sixteenth Street road to the point where it intersects with the Missouri Pacific track. The cemetery is about 200 yards west of the intersection on the north side of the track. It is obscured by foliage in the summer and passes unnoticed in the winter. Shiver winds lend an air of loneliness to the forgotten city of the dead." (1)
A complete listing of burials has been compiled by the Otoe County Genealogical Society, and can be found in our 'Otoe County Cemeteries'
CD-ROM, which is available for purchase on our Publications
(1) "Little Cemetery Now Forgotten." Nebraska City News-Press [Nebraska City] 9 Apr. 1937. Print.
View Larger Map