Summerfield Day Excerpt

Excerpt from The Iowa State University Campus and Its Buildings 1859-1979 "Cemetery"
by H. Summerfield Day, 1980

cemetery photo

Concern for the final resting place for college faculty was expressed by the Board of Trustees at its meeting of August 16-19, 1876. It was "Ordered, That five acres of land be surveyed under direction of President Welch; that the same be set aside for the purposes of a College Cemetery and be transferred from the department of Horticulture and Forestry to the department of Ornamental Grounds."

It seems reasonable to assume that the selection of the site was then made by President Welch. In 1883 an appropriation of $75.00 was made for fencing the cemetery. No road served the cemetery until 1888 or 1889. The Biennial Report for those years states that provision was made for the construction of a road sixteen and one-half feet wide running from the cemetery gate east until intersecting the road running north from the College. The new road was the first section of what has now become Pammel Drive. At that time the road north from the College was on the west side of Old main and ran just west of what is today the center line of Gilman and Spedding Halls.

In November of 1895 the Trustees authorized enlargement of the cemetery "as much as necessary for cemetery purposes", and authorized an expenditure of $100.00 in order that "the cemetery be beautified and ornamented and thoroughly cared for."

Funds for completion of the cemetery plat were made available in 1904. In the 21st & 22nd Biennial Reports, 1903-1906, references were made to inadequate care of the cemetery.

In 1906, the President was authorized to assign lots "as occasion arises and report such assignments to the Board "in order that they may be entered of record." The first regulations governing the use of the cemetery were adopted by the Board of Trustees at their meeting of April 12, 1907. They were stated:

  • The privilege of interment in the College Cemetery shall be restricted to the College Faculty and their immediate connections.
  • The general care and supervision of the Cemetery shall be vested in the Public Grounds Committee.
  • The Public Grounds Committee may assign lots in the College Cemetery subject to the following conditions:
    • No coping or enclosures will be permitted around lots.
    • Burial lots shall not be filled above the established grade.
    • The surface of the grave shall conform to the lot grade.
    • Corner stones must not project above the surface.
    • Plans of proposed monuments shall be submitted to the Public Grounds Committee for approval.
    • The foundation for monuments shall be of the length and width of the monument and the floor for the same shall be level with the bottom of the grave.
    • The construction may be either of Portland cement concrete in the proportion of one, three and five or rubble stone laid in one to three Portland cement mortar.
    • The planting, pruning and removal of all trees in the Cemetery shall be under the direction of the Public Grounds Committee.
    • To insure the perpetual care of the lots the lessee shall be required to deposit the College Treasurer previous to the first interment a sum equal to ten cents per square foot multiplied by the number of square feet in the lot assigned. This fund is to be invested by the College. Its proceeds are to be kept under a separate account and expended for the care of the said lot, under the direction of the Public Grounds Committee and bills for the same are to be paid under the rules of the College Board of Audit.
    • It is recommended that persons now holding lots in said Cemetery be requested to conform to the above named regulations.

Some modifications of those rules were made in 1915.

Current regulations preclude assignment of lots to anyone with less than 20 years of service to the university, and to those of less than assistant professor or equal non-academic rank. Lots are not deeded to the families, but remain university property. Permanent privileges are granted. Today less than one-sixth of the 240 plotted lots remain unassigned.

Regulations have been updated since this publication. View current regulations.