RICHMOND, Ind. | Wayne County's pioneer past has inspired Wayne Township Trustee Susan Isaacs in her development of King Cemetery, one of the city's oldest, yet newest cemeteries.
And now the tragedy of frontier life has further inspired her in making King a public cemetery.
"I was touched by the number of infants and children who are buried there," Isaacs told the Palladium-Item.
She has decided that an infant burial section will be a part of the cemetery's expansion, which has begun and is expected to be operational this summer.
She has begun fundraising to buy statues for all the infants and children to be buried there in the future.
"Our goal is to create a peaceful, respectful place for small children to be buried that might offer some small comfort to parents and families suffering the loss of a child," Isaacs said.
The cemetery is celebrating its 200th birthday this year. Its oldest plot belongs to 14-month-old Lovina Smith, who died and was buried in 1813. Two of Lovina's young sisters are also buried there.
"I really didn't feel right spending taxpayer money on statues, but I really wanted to do something like this," she said.
The long-forgotten, half-acre cemetery was hidden on land along the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks off North West N Street. It was deeded to the township in 1985 but was full and had not been used for 15 years.
In 2012, township officials bought 3.5 adjacent acres and brought the cemetery back to life since the township's other cemetery, the Chester Cemetery, is almost full.
The township by state statute is required to bury indigent citizens. Isaacs said her office buries about 15 indigents per year at a cost of about $1,500 to $1,900 per burial. Her plan is to sell plots to the public and use proceeds to fund cemetery maintenance and indigent burials.
Isaacs also recruited a band of volunteers to begin cleaning, repairing and improving the cemetery. Development of the new tract also began late in 2012.
Isaacs said she hopes to raise $5,000 for the cemetery's infant burial section and said 100 percent of donations will be used to buy statutes.
"We will do the landscaping and over time it will become a beautiful site," she said. "And it will be a 90 percent public cemetery with 10 percent for indigent. It was a forgotten cemetery, and we're giving it a new life."