Researching every grave in How. Cty.

Jill McCarville and Janice Sowers look up obituaries at Lime Springs Herald office. They are then put into a binder reserved for Pleasant Hill Cemetery that will have each cemetery marker and obituaries, if available.

Jill McCarville and Janice Sowers look up obituaries at Lime Springs Herald office. They are then put into a binder reserved for Pleasant Hill Cemetery that will have each cemetery marker and obituaries, if available.

By Marcie Klomp
When Janice Sowers sets her mind to something, it will probably get done! She has taken on the monumental task of finding each grave marker in Howard County’s cemeteries and finding a corresponding obituary for the person. By the time she finishes her project, each person who was buried in the county for the past nearly 160 years will be documented.

Sowers started her project back in 2006. In good weather, she walks the cemeteries, row by row, section by section, taking pictures of each and every grave marker. Then she makes sure she knows who the marker is for.

Most are still fairly able to discern, but others have been faded and eroded to where there are just bumps in the stone.
During winter months, she tries to locate obituaries for those who have passed.

She started off with some of the smaller cemeteries and has completed a large portion of those—Albion, Cedar Hill, Howard Center, Mable Leaf, the Sigler cemetery at Saratoga, Holy Cross, Phillips and Foreston. She still has quite a few to go—New Oregon, Elma Calvary, Cresco Calvary, Oak Lawn, Protivin, Saratoga, Chester Hill, St. Cecelia, Howard and Lourdes.

She is currently working on Lime Springs’ Pleasant Hill Cemetery.

It is a daunting project, but Sowers credits her helpers for keeping her moving forward. “Jill [McCarville] helps with the obituaries, types them up and puts them on a website. Elaine Lybbert helps proof and does the indexing.”

When she is finished, which is a few years away, her research will give a good glimpse of those who lived and died in Howard County.

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