Fell Cemetery records find official, permanent home
LIBERTYVILLE — Fell Cemetery, the burial place for the Libertyville community for more than 120 years, has finally found an official home for its maps and records at the Libertyville City Hall.
Ron Meyers, president of the Fell Cemetery Board of Trustees, said in the past, the records had been kept at the homes of various trustees except for a few items kept at Libertyville Savings Bank, but since July, after the Libertyville City Council approved the cemetery board’s request for space at city hall for maps and records, the items have a permanent home.
“Having a consistent home for these records will be a much safer situation and will also provide the public better access to it,” said Meyers.
Meyers said the city of Libertyville is not taking on any financial obligation for Fell Cemetery.
“It is simply committing to provide space for records and maps and some assistance in providing information about the cemetery to the public,” he explained.
General cemetery information, including history, burials, a veterans list, available plots, prices, deeds and maps, is available during normal city hall hours, said Meyers. However, any detailed information or transactions will need to be carried out by appointment with the cemetery board of trustees, as in the past.
“Fell Cemetery operations will continue to be provided by the cemetery board of trustees,” he continued.
In addition, the Libertyville Community Center board has agreed to let the cemetery board use the center, which is next to city hall, to conduct its meetings and work sessions.
Fell Cemetery is about 2 miles southwest of Libertyville on Elderberry Boulevard. The site was first used as a cemetery in 1838 when Susan H. Vaught, the infant daughter of William and Elizabeth Vaught, was buried there. The site continued to be used as an area burial place, and then in 1889, it was officially designated as the Fell Cemetery Association and incorporated under Iowa’s laws.
Throughout the years, land has been bought or gifted to expand the cemetery for four additions to the original site. The platted area is about 7 acres, but the association also holds the title to 10 acres of very rough land immediately to the west, said Meyers.
Fell Cemetery operates and is registered as a “perpetual care cemetery,” which means a percentage of a lot sale is kept forever with only the interest available for cemetery maintenance, he explained.
As a private not-for-profit organization, the cemetery receives no tax monies for its operation and upkeep, although the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors does provide flags and flag holders for the graves of military veterans, said Meyers, adding about 170 of the 1,500-plus graves belong to veterans.
The annual operating budget is normally between $4,000 and $5,000, with mowing being the major expense, said Meyers.
Recent capital improvements include new fences, a new main gate and sign, a kiosk with maps and other information, a drainage system, setting baselines for locating lots, and surveying and platting lots for Phase 2 of the third addition.
In the last 19 years, 73 lots, with about 289 burial sites, have been sold — more than 600 burial sites are available — and there have been 154 burials.
“In addition, we have inventoried and computerized the cemetery records, including deeds, burial records and veterans list,” said Meyers.
In addition to Meyers, those serving on the board of trustees are: secretary/treasurer Jeri Meyers, Roger Channel, Gene Cubbage, Ed Miller, Ron Neubauer, Jim Taylor and Don Wingate.
Meyers said most of the current trustees have served on the board for several years and are ready to pass the duties on to others.
“Anyone living in the Libertyville area, with family ties or interest in the Fell Cemetery, is encouraged to look into this opportunity to help serve your community,” he said. “It’s not a major commitment, but an important one.”