LaGrange looks to preserve long-forgotten cemetery

Uncertainty over who all is buried and where

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By Daryl Bjoraas

LAGRANGE COUNTY, Ind. -- Residents in LaGrange County are working to preserve one of their oldest cemeteries. After hearing complaints about Salem Church Cemetery's lack of upkeep, the county is now taking action.

Down an old country road, and just south of Middlebury, lies a mystery.

"It really is like a puzzle," Rita Lehner, LaGrange County GIS Coordinator, said.

A puzzle that hasn't been solved for more than a 100 years.

"We definitely need to take better care of our cemeteries," Lehner said.

And that's exactly what she aims to do. She's been gathering information on the old Salem Church Cemetery after hearing complaints about its upkeep.

But it's proving to be difficult.

The cemetery once had a church, but records on its existence are missing.

"Everybody says it burned down," Lehner said.

Also missing are several names of people laid to rest there.

"We don't know where they go," Lehner said of the headstones. "And if that's plowed up, we'll never know."

Adding to the confusion, is what's located right next door; a farm, that's grown over part of the grave site, where more people may be buried.

So now, the pressure is on to save this land, before any more years pass by.

"It's part of our history," Lehner said. "Once it's gone, it's gone."

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