One Short Hike: Three Cemeteries
This hike explores the area immediately to the north of Hamburg, a village removed by the U. S. government in 1940 in order to secure the area to build a munitions factory. The Mades Cemetery is located on what would have been the edge of town, the Murdock Cemetery just out of town, and the Schneider Cemetery on a farm within sight of Hamburg. While the Mades and Murdock Cemeteries are easy to find, a compass is very helpful in locating the Schneider Cemetery.
Pull off Highway 94 onto a shoulder of the road next to a metal gate and three large rocks (695839 4282730). This small parking area is 2.5 miles from the intersection of Highways 94 and D, and 3.5 miles from the intersection of Highways 94 and DD. Carefully cross Highway 94 to the west-northwest. Walk through the opening in the old fence and climb down the short hill to the biking trail. Walk about fifty feet north on the trail and face west. As you look about one quarter mile in the distance, you will see a group of very tall cedar trees; this is the Murdock Cemetery (696813 4283337). The distance from Highway 94 to the cemetery is two-tenths of one mile.
When the U. S. government purchased the 18,000 acres it felt it needed to secure its plant, it created a problem for itself which it never really solved. What should be done with the two dozen cemeteries on this land? Newspaper articles from the period indicate obvious confusion. There was talk of disinterring all of the 700 bodies at government expense and then reburying them in a tract of land purchased by the government. This never happened. Then the suggestion was made to remove bodies only if relatives requested reburial. This plan was also apparently not fully implemented.
The Murdock Cemetery, however, shows evidence of several disinterments. Old cemetery records indicate that John and Louisa Murdock, Martha S. Snyder, and Edward Harris were buried in the cemetery, and their gravestones were still present in 1940. Later records indicate that these remains were all removed to Oak Grove Cemetery in St. Charles in 1941. Was this the beginning of a mass removal of all area remains, or were these the only graves whose removal was requested by relatives? This is one of the only three cemeteries in all of the area's two dozen cemeteries that indicate bodies were removed in 1941. If you look carefully, you may find the bases for the missing headstones. Three are visible, one obviously a larger base intended for a double headstone (the Murdocks). It is worth noting that the Murdocks died within ten days of each other in 1877 and were the first burials here, on the farm they owned; John Murdock was the son of a Revolutionary War veteran.
To find the Schneider Cemetery (696707 4282968), first stand in the Murdock Cemetery gate, facing east. Walk around the cemetery to the right (south). Turn at the corner and walk west-southwest; the cemetery is now on your right. Notice the ridge ahead of you, rising to your left. Continue west-southwest and then gradually turn southwest to climb the spine of the ridge. Walk to the top of the hill; at this point you have walked just over one-tenth mile from the Murdock Cemetery. The spine of the ridge now heads south-southwest. Walk to the end of the ridge's spine and stop at its highest point; you are now about .17 miles from the Murdock Cemetery and 150 yards from the Schneider Cemetery. Walk down the hill to the south, perhaps just a bit east of due south. The Schneider Cemetery is fenced and has a sign. The farm belonging to the Schneiders had been in their family for about one hundred years when they sold it to the government before World War II. No traces of the home remain except for a large depression about one hundred yards south from the cemetery; in the spring this hole is surrounded by beautiful daffodils. It apparently marks the location of the farm's barn.
This cemetery is the other that evidences the removal of bodies, and the bases for the absent headstones are clearly visible. Jacob and Louise Schneider died exactly one month apart in 1869. Records indicate that sometime before 1941 their remains were reinterred in St. John's Cemetery in Cottleville. Of the 700 bodies buried in the 24 cemeteries, it appears that fewer than fifteen were reburied. The rest were left in the original family and church cemeteries.
The final cemetery on this brief hike is the Mades Cemetery (697128 4282899). It is almost due east of the Schneider Cemetery, so take the appropriate reading on your compass and begin the short trek of almost exactly one-quarter mile. You will walk down the ridge the Schneider Cemetery is on, up and around the base of a hill, and up another hill. As you approach this final hill, you may notice the old roadbed which ran from Highway 94 past the Schneider farm and on over the next ridge, towards the village of Howell. This cemetery is hard to miss since it is marked by a very large cedar tree, is surrounded by its original fence, and is within a stone's throw of Highway 94. The buildings of the Mades farm sat adjacent to the cemetery.
The rest of the hike is just a brief walk up the biking trail to where your car is parked. Your total walk was only about one mile, but you explored some of the farms first settled by immigrants to the area.
Volunteers Cleaning Pioneer Cemetery