Oconto, WI, November 18, 2020. After a summer of pandemic delays, the first portion of the Evergreen Cemetery Potter’s Field Memorial Project has been completed. The Memorial, which is designed to honor the memory of more than 300 people buried in “common ground” unmarked graves throughout the cemetery, was made possible by a $20,525 grant from the Leon H. and Clymene M. Bond Foundation to the Oconto County Historical Society.
The first stage of the project was completed Monday, Nov. 16th, when a bronze plaque honoring the memory of the people buried in the cemetery was permanently attached to a two-ton granite boulder base located in the middle of the South Potter’s Field. The boulder, which is native to our area, came from the Mountain Stonework’s Quarry in Mountain, Wisconsin and was transported to Oconto earlier this summer by Brian Vandenlangenberg. Brian is the owner of the Oconto City Monument Company and has been assisting Pete Gabrielson who is overseeing the project. Several other local citizens have also volunteered their service to make the memorial a reality including Jeremy Wusterbarth and the city of Oconto, and Scott and Brandon Tousey of Scott’s Concrete. Jeremy, Brian, and Scott’s expertise in the positioning of the two-ton boulder and the pouring of the concrete base was critical to the successful completion of this part of the project.
The monument itself is located to the left as you drive into the cemetery on the southernmost road about 200 feet from that entrance. With the exception of the first block, the first 400 feet or so along the left side of that road is a “potter’s field” where as many as 200 or more people are buried in unmarked graves. There are also a couple other “potter’s field” sections in the cemetery, including an area on the same side of that road toward the west end of the cemetery and an area along the north side of the entrance road on the north side of the cemetery. In the future we hope to have memorial markers in these areas as well.
Stage Two of the project will be started this winter and will be completed next spring. It includes the construction of a 16 x 8-foot memorial plaza comprised of granite paver stones each engraved with the names and interment dates of the individuals that are buried there. The granite is slated to arrive sometime within the next two weeks and our goal is to have the project completed by Memorial Day, 2021. A dedication ceremony will be held at that time. A final mention must be made of the contribution that has been made by the Oconto County Genealogical Society, especially Kitty Werner and Vern Mortier whose earlier research in the Oconto cemeteries and expertise in genealogy has saved us an incredible amount of time.
When you get a chance to visit our monument, please do; and as you pause and reflect, please take some time to think about the words on the plaque that, “This monument is dedicated to ensure that the final resting place of these departed souls will remain forever consecrated and their names be forever remembered”. This monument is for them.