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Letter: New film could cause more cemetery vandalism

By Mary Chonko, Jackson An article that appeared in your paper of Sept. 26, 2018 concerning the making of a folk horror movie about the Loon Lake cemetery located in Jackson County is very upsetting to the members of the Loon Lake Cemetery Associ...

By Mary Chonko, Jackson 

 

An article that appeared in your paper of Sept. 26, 2018 concerning the making of a folk horror movie about the Loon Lake cemetery located in Jackson County is very upsetting to the members of the Loon Lake Cemetery Association. The goal of our organization is to restore the cemetery and respect for the people buried here. None of them were witches or ghosts but persons such as we are who braved the rigors of the frontier, leaving to us living today a great heritage.

The organization has been working on restoring the cemetery for two years. The restoration will take another two or three years. Our fears are now that more vandalism will happen as a result of this movie and undo the restoration work that private citizens have contributed funds for. How can we instill respect for these pioneers and their final resting place when there are those trying to dehumanize them by calling them witches and ghosts?     

Public records tell us the true story of Mary Jane. She did not die in any of the ways that the untrue stories in circulation would have one believe. She died in Cherokee, Iowa of diphtheria at the age of 17. The Spirit Lake Beacon of March 18, 1880 states that her body was brought to Spirit Lake, Iowa for interment. Her parents were living in Spirit Lake at this time. They did not move to the Loon Lake area until sometime after her death. Mary Jane’s tombstone no longer stands in the cemetery because of repeated theft. To insure the safety of the stone, it can no longer be left where it belongs. Not only has her stone been disrespected, but there have even been attempts to dig up her grave. Actions such as this should horrify all of us.

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It is very painful to the descendants of all buried at the Loon Lake Cemetery to witness the disrespect shown to their ancestors and their final resting place. Check the Loon Lake Cemetery Facebook page to see the outrage voiced by descendants and others.

The cemetery is open only during daylight hours. Hours are posted. Visiting the cemetery after hours is prohibited. Anyone doing so can be arrested and charged with the crime of trespassing.  

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