Vandals Wreak Havoc On Warsaw Cemetery

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
Unknown persons damaged several monuments in the Old Warsaw Cemetery sometime last week according to Warsaw Chief of Police Jason Wenberg.
The Warsaw Parks department discovered the damage last Thursday when they went to the cemetery to mow.
“Several of the old tombstones had been pushed over,” Wenberg said.  “One very old one that was very tall is broken and I doubt if it can be repaired.”
One of the damaged tombstones was that of Jonas Alexander, a black man who lived in Warsaw and worked as a shoe shine man in the Warsaw Barber Shop.  When Jonas died a group of Warsaw citizens raised funds to have a marker placed at his grave.
According to Jim Miller at Reser-Miller Funeral Home, the cemetery hasn’t had any new graves since Jonas was buried there in 1975.  “Some of the graves do not have markers which makes it impossible to know where all the graves are located so the City closed that cemetery,” Miller said.
According to the History of Benton County, Volume 3, by Kathleen White Miles and Kathleen Kelly White, “May 25, 1839, Ordered B. W. Keown, James A. Brown and Adamson Cornwall to select a suitable place in Warsaw and layout ground thereon to contain one acre of land for burial ground.”  The land was purchased from Dewitt C. Ballou for $80.  This was to become the Warsaw City Cemetery.
Warsaw Mayor Ed Simons was also very disappointed in the acts of vandalism at the Warsaw Cemetery.  “The City of Warsaw is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who gives us information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for these acts of vandalism,” Simons said.  “The City of Warsaw is working to fix the tombstones, but we are not going to put up with acts such as this and we will find out who is responsible.  This act of vandalism is a slap in the face to the families of those buried in the Warsaw Cemetery as well as the City of Warsaw.  We will try to contact the families of the people laid to rest there but we will repair this damage.”
Simons said that at least 16 monuments had been damaged.  The funds to repair these monuments will come out of the Warsaw City budget.  “I have no idea what the cost will be,” said Simons.  “However, we will not let this action go unpunished.”  Simons reported that the cemetery will probably have to be locked to prevent future damage.
Anyone with information about the damage at the cemetery should contact the Warsaw City Office at 438-5522.