Monday, November 18, 2013

Parr Cemetery: High, Wide & Windswept

I first came to Parr Cemetery out in Liberty Township many years ago with my late Uncle Joe Miller because this is the burial place of Mary, matriarch of all Lucas County Krutsingers, and my Aunt Helen (Krutsinger) Miller was one of her descendants. For that matter, so was my Uncle Kenneth Krutsinger, married to Mary (Miller) Krutsinger. There used to be a heck of a lot of Krutsingers around here, and still are quite a few. So a lot of non-Krutsingers married Krutsingers, including two of my mother's siblings.

Neither Uncle Joe and Aunt Helen nor Uncle Kenneth and Aunt Mary stuck around Iowa, however, preferring Colorado.

Parr is not a difficult cemetery to find, providing you know where you're going, but the most entertaining shock-and-awe way to get citified Krutsinger cousins out there, when they visit, is up through Swede Holler then left across the Wheeler Bridge. Keep going west on that old dirt road to the top of the hill, turn left, briefly, when it "Ts" with gravel, and then watch for the sign beside a driveway into a hayfield on your right.

If you're in a hurry or the roads are muddy, you can just take the Poverty Ridge road out from Chariton.

Once you spot the sign --- and it's fairly recent so this whole operation used to be more of a challenge --- you've got to have faith that if you turn in and start bumping up over the hill the cemetery will be there.

But there it was Friday out in the middle of a recently harvested soybean field with views to the east and south into the White Breast valley and the hills beyond. It really is a pretty place, although a little too high, wide and windswept for the tastes of some. I even had company out there --- somebody was fishing at a pond farther over in the hills.

The name "Wheeler" on the sign is a little misleading because there are no Wheelers buried here.

This is the Parr Cemetery, founded by Andrew Jackson and Eleanor Parr near the north line of their claim back in 1855 when their daughter, Mary, died at age six months. Other neighbors were buried here, too, as the years passed, but the Wheelers had nothing to do with it, other than the fact one of old Sam Wheeler's grandsons, also a Sam Wheeler, purchased the farm where the cemetery is located back in the early years of the 20th century.


Mary (Smith) and Martin Krutsinger brought their family of five sons --- Thomas S., Elias B., William W., Andrew J., and James C. --- to Lucas County from Indiana in 1856, entering land in Otter Creek Township just a couple of miles west of the A. J. Parr home in Liberty Township. Three additional sons were born in Lucas County: Lewis C., Noah L. and Jacob.

Six months after Jacob was born on Jan. 28, 1862, Martin was overcome by patriotic fervor and decided to enlist (on August 9) at age 40 as a private in Co. E, 34th Iowa Volunteer Infantry. This may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but it wasn't.

Perhaps because of his age, Martin reportedly was assigned to work as a nurse and cook at the military hospital on Arsenal Island, also known as Smallpox Island, at St. Louis, Missouri.

He became ill and died there --- of smallpox --- on March 5, 1863, leaving the widowed Mary to raise their sons, the youngest of whom was just over a year old, alone. Martin's unidentifiable remains were gathered with many others after the war ended and relocated to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery where he rests among the "unknowns."

Mary Krutsinger survived her husband by only eight years, dying at age 48 on Nov. 29, 1871. She was the first family member to be buried in the Parr Cemetery and soon thereafter a stone was erected at her grave that also contains a memorial inscription for Martin. The death date on that inscription, March 7, is slightly at variance with the March 5 date found in official records.

Three years later, on Dec. 10, 1874, Jacob Kruitsinger died at the age of 12 and was buried near his mother. No other members of the Krutsinger family chose to be buried here.

William W., Andrew J., Lewis C. and Noah Krutsinger all raised families in Lucas County, but Mount Zion Cemetery north of Oakley became the family's preferred burial place.

More about Parr Cemetery another day.

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