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Floyd Cemetery

Members of American Legion Post 697 fire a rifle salute during the Memorial Day services at Floyd Cemetery in Sioux City in 2006.

Do you know where the bronze statue of a Spanish-American War veteran proudly stands in Sioux City?

Have you spotted the Greek Revival temple built out of white marble? How about the memorial to the 39 people killed in the Ruff drug store collapse in 1918?

These landmarks may be found in the city's three cemeteries. The veteran stands guard at Graceland. The Badgerow Mausoleum at Logan Park was built in the style of an ancient Greek temple, and the memorial to the victims of the Ruff tragedy is at Floyd.

Walking through those cemeteries, an observer can't help but contemplate the richness and sometimes the brevity of life. Many pioneer residents died young. Others contributed to the growth and vibrancy of our community.

Cemeteries contain more than the remains of strangers, friends or loved ones. They illustrate the history of a community. After decorating relatives' graves each Memorial Day, our family wandered around Graceland and Logan Park looking at the grave markers. We took tours of Floyd on other summer days, marveling at the size and grandeur of the monuments.

I thought of those excursions during a City Council discussion Saturday on the future of the city-owned cemeteries. Councilman Aaron Rochester asked if the time had come to privatize one or more of them. It wasn't the first time that idea had been floated and probably won't be the last. In 1997, the council rejected Memorial Park's offer to buy Logan Park.

Records indicate the first burial at Floyd took place in 1868, two years after a businessman donated the field to the city. Many pioneer business and civic leaders are buried there, including the city's first woman doctor, Harriet Comstock, and John Peirce, the real estate developer who once owned the mansion that bears his name at 2901 Jackson St.

Floyd is the final resting place for a number of Civil War soldiers, including Edward Burson Spalding. He was awarded a Medal of Honor for his service as a sergeant during the battle of Shiloh.

Floyd's graves aren't found in neat and tidy rows, unlike Graceland, which was laid out in 1909 as a burial park after owner Andrew M. Jackson retained a landscape architect. In 1953, 10 years after his death, the city bought the cemetery.

The Toy Mausoleum is there, for the family of well-known banker James F. Toy. Graceland's bronze Spanish-American War soldier, standing on top of a 14-ton granite base, was dedicated in 1930, the first memorial in Iowa to those veterans.

Logan Park Cemetery remains my sentimental favorite, in part due to its parklike solitude and towering pine trees. My maternal grandparents, George and Ida Webb Flynn, and two of their children are buried on a hill toward the western edge of the developed part of the cemetery. Mom and Dad are buried along the main road.

The first burial was for Andrew Anderson in 1892, who drowned after saving 26 people in flood waters. A Swedish granite marker tells his story. The city bought Logan Park in 1924. Among the notables buried in Logan are Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Jay “Ding” Darling.

Each time I visit my parents' graves, I am saddened by the losses suffered in the Vietnam War. Nearby is the grave of my Bryant Elementary School classmate, Greg Smith, who was killed in Vietnam on May 20, 1971. He was 23.

For an interesting and enlightening outing, you might sign up to take one of the Public Museum's cemetery tours this summer. Director Steve Hansen said the dates will be announced.

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