Who will care for aging rural cemeteries


The contacts for all churches and cemeteries throughout Moody County recently received their tax exempt notifications in the mail.
It’s annual paperwork that the county sends out.
Given the responsible parties seldom change, one might think that it’s a fairly easy task.
Rural farmer Ron Teal wonders though, as do county officials, who’s name should be on file for the Yeo/Erickson Cemetery. The small, quiet rural burial site sits in the heart of his family’s farmland two miles north of Ward Road a few miles east of Highway 13.

The county purchased it from the family for a dollar, Teal believes, more than a century ago.
While there is no record of that transaction on file, the one-acre cemetery has always been the property of the county, like every other rural cemetery throughout the area.
Still, Teal gets the paperwork.
“I’m 85 and I’m not going to be around too much longer, somebody’s got to take good care of it. There are quite a few people buried there,” he said.
With the question now raised, how to handle aging and idled rural cemeteries is a conversation County Commissioners plan to have, because the Yeo/Erickson Cemetery isn’t the only property that needs addressing.
There are at least a dozen others. Some haven’t seen a burial in some time, but could in the coming years. Others have fallen into disrepair with no lineage to care for the aging headstones and properties.
Generous volunteers, like Teal and now David Larson, who’s wife is buried in the Yeo/Erickson Cemetery, have helped to care for and protect the remote gravesites for decades because the county hasn’t historically had the resources to care for them all.
Teal simply hopes someone steps up to care for the property, originally deeded in 1893, and its families, well into the future.