Apr 22, 2024 - News

Woodland Cemetery's history shines in new book

A photo of the cover of the book "Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines."

Proceeds from "Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines" will go to cemetery improvement projects. Volunteers have restored thousands of markers there in recent years. Photo: Courtesy of The History Press/Mary Christopher

A new book highlights the intriguing lives and interments of more than 120 people buried at Des Moines' Woodland Cemetery.

Why it matters: The 176-year-old cemetery is a part of the historic fabric of the metro.

  • The stories bring insight into what makes us DSM, authors Mary Christopher and Mike Rowley tell Axios.

State of play: "Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines" was researched and written by metro volunteers, who donated more than 2,000 hours for the project.

  • All book proceeds go toward cemetery restoration.

The intrigue: The book's articles are short and focus on forgotten events, unique people or unusual memorials.

  • Some stories are about the metro's early leaders. Others center on people with lesser-known or unknown identities, including immigrants and a sex worker.
  • One is about a dog who spent days at her former caretaker's grave and was credited with saving the woman's life who later rescued her.

Zoom in: The inspiration for the 192-page book came during the pandemic when Christopher took walks in the cemetery and became curious about the people buried there.

What's next: Preorders are open at Beaverdale Books or online.

  • Book launch is April 29 at Franklin Library, 4-6pm.
  • Another event is April 30 at Beaverdale Books at 6:30pm.

👀 Worthy of your time: Those who want to embrace death and history can take a Woodland Cemetery tour, some focusing on pioneer women.

A photo of Woodland Cemetery in Des Moines.
Woodland Cemetery is 65 acres and predates the incorporation of DSM. It is also recognized as part of the National Park Service's Underground Railroad Network to Freedom. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios
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