SE and SW corners of Lusher Ave and Oakland Av. Non-existent
Formerly located on south side of present day Lusher Avenue at both the southeast and southwest corner of present day Oakland Avenue. First burial is believed to have been made in the mid 1830's .
The following is copied from the Saturday edition of the "Elkhart Truth " for Aug 3, 1921 . "The announcement of the city Council's purpose to vacate the Pioneer Cemetery at the intersection of Oakland and Lusher Avenues , has aroused interest in the ancient burial ground that manifestly has lain domant for many years. A visit to the tract will reveal that few, if any, persons have entered it in recent years for the purpose of clearing away the rank weeds, straightening a gravestone or oherwise bestowing upon the place of the dead a loving care that is instinctly given to the last resting place on one's kindred.
The monument or tombstone, most of the markers are ancient slabs, that stand vertically are rare . A large portion of them lie scattered on the ground, partially or wholly covered with vegetation. The ground itself is covered with tangled grasses and bushes , is as rough as a newly plowed field, the result of sinking of forgotten graves or failure to refill graves whose contents have in the last decade or so been transferred to other burial grounds.
No Records Available
The Truth has been uable to find a trace of any record showing when or how or by whom the cemetery was established, or if any organization which had charge of the maintenance and care of this burial plot. Mayor W. E, Wider has been no more successful, through he has been told that the first burial in the cemetery was "That of a Member of A Caravan Headed For the West , Who Became ill and Died While The Party Was Camping On The Farm." He has been told also that there was at one time an organization that cared for the burial grounds and that last accounts it was supposed the treasury had $150 in its maintenance fund, but the person to whom it was entrusted had failed to use it for the purpose intended.
The Truth thought it probable, publication of a list of the gravestones still in the Cemetery, might be of value to those interested in the history of the township, as well as to the descendants of the people buried there.
A reporter found graven testimony of the presence in the burial ground of the remains of at least 126 persons, though it is possible , but hardly probable that some of the stones may have been left behind when the bodies were taken elsewhere. Of these 136 stones , 95 are in the east portion and 31 in the west portion , on opposites sides of Oakland Ave. Of the 95 graves in the east section , 45 are of persons under 20 years of age , while 14 of the 31 buried in the west section were children , a total of 59 out of the 126 graves found .
Most of the children were infants , indicating the relatively high mortality rate among the babies of half a century ago and even later.
Until the recent removal of remains began, it was found there were stones in the cemetery , indicating the presence of 151 graves there. Some years ago there began a movement to vacate the cemetery, and a large number of graves were transferred to other cemeteries nearby. It appears that there have been no burials in this cemetery since Michael Witzel died July 13, 1901 and is buried in the west section. George K. Hoke seems to be the last burial in the East section when he died January 19,1897.
Most Ancient Grave
The most ancient grave found during the search of the Cemetery was that of Jesse Rush, who died Sept 13,1839 at age 47 years. Sarah Rush, daughter of B. and C. Rush died Mar. 2.1839 , infant. William Longley died Apr. 1, 1840 at age 23 years. Also Sylvester Rush, a son of B. and C. Rush died June 7, 1840 at age 5 years.
Jesse Rush, who was born in 1791, was one of the earliest settlers in Concord township. He first located near the St. Joseph river in 1826 but soon moved to Pleasant Plain, just southwest of what is now the city of Elkhart. Jesse Rush fell victim to the terrible epidemic of cholera that raged so destructively in the year 1838.His entire family of wife and nine children, except a son Richard , was prostrate with this disease. His wife, Mary , gave birth to twins , a son and daughter, on May 16, 1828 and these are repute to be the first white children born in Concord township. The son , Isaih Rush lived to an advanced age, but does not appear that we was buried in this cemetery. There is no record to the career of his sister.
The records of the gravestones, in addition to is testimony to infant mortality, is significant at times of devastation of the home circle because of contagious disease. For instance, one white slab , ornamented after the style of that period of time, shows that three young children of P. and M. Rush died within seven days in December of 1862. Also two young daughter of W.H. and F. Meech died within eight days of each other in July of 1864. Luella , little daughter of J. C and A. Sternberg, died March 10, 1872 and on that same stone shows that Rachel Hoover, evidently her grandmother, died the following day .
Oct. 4 ,1921 NEWSPAPER
The following information was copied from the Oct. 4, 1921 newspaper article ( presumably the Elkhart Truth ) which recounted the actual moving of the remains from the pioneer cemetery .
The remains were removed to other cemeteries last Saturday and Sunday by relatives. What remains that have not been removed by private parties before Nov. 1st. will be taken up and transferred to Rice cemetery by the City adminstration .
Among the graves opened yesterday were those of Jesse Rush, who died in 1838 , at age 47 . Mrs. Rush died in 1856 at age 65. Her remains and those of a grandson who died in 1874 were also taken up yesterday and reinterred in the" PRAIRIE STREET CEMETERY " . The work was done by the following relatives, C.C Henderson , Ernest Lombard, B. Livengood, D . Nisander and Walter Hauraday. "One of the shin bones of Mr. Rush was petrified and his lower jaw with all the teeth was in remarkable state of preservation . The bones and ashes were placed in metallic receptables. All of us wore rubber gloves and took all the precautions prescribed by the board of health ".