The invisible dead

Posted on January 3, 2012


To die will be an awfully big adventure.

J.M. BARRIE, Peter Pan

When someone dies and is buried, it is an expectation that their grave will be a memorial that friends and family can visit for several years. It is a place to mourn, a place to remember, and a sacred place for the remains to lay at rest.

What happens when 100 years have passed, and there isn’t any family left to maintain the cemetery? What happens when a city grows up around the cemetery and it is forgotten?

That’s what’s happened to one cemetery in Marion. The Quarry Street Cemetery, also known at Pioneer Cemetery or the Old Marion Cemetery, dates back to the 1820s. Some of Marion’s founders and original families were buried there at one point. Eber Baker, the founder of Marion, had his wife buried there. He and his wife were later moved to the new Marion Cemetery when the land was procured in 1857. There is a Revolutionary War veteran buried there.  65 Marionites who died in the Cholera outbreak of 1854 are buried there.

One would think that such history would be protected and preserved for generations, right? Sadly, that is not the case with the Quarry Street Cemetery. The majority of the gravestones have been vandalized and knocked over. A few that are left have been fenced in, and a flag has been placed at the site.

The plot of land is surrounded by residential housing and urban decay. It is a place that has been forgotten in Marion by many. The wrought-iron fence that used to surround the property has been taken down. People parked their cars on the land during the Popcorn Festival until the city took some initiative and put up No Parking signs.

So, what do you think? Should the land be surveyed and the remains be moved? Should the city replace the fence and put up a sign so neighborhood don’t play football on the remains of these early Marionites?  Do the people of Marion have any obligation to take care of their history, or will these remains stay the invisible dead?