Exploring Woodlawn Cemetery

The Woodlawn Cemetery is located at the end of aptly named Cemetery Road in Douglas County. Don’t mind the barrage of gunfire; the cemetery is located halfway between a rifle range and a gun club. 

After a short walk up a hill, the woods open up to a vast cemetery reminiscent of Thomson Cemetery in Jay Cooke State Park. I visited on a rainy/snowy October day, so I donned my red rain poncho and made my way from headstone to headstone. It was such a pretty place, even on a cold and wet day. It’s easy for your mind to wander, wondering what kind of life each of these people had lived. 

Sadly, it looks like people have used the cemetery for target practice. This is the first cemetery that I’ve visited where several of the markers have bullet holes/marks. That kind of disrespect makes my blood boil! 

A handful of bodies were moved here in 1897 from the Nemadji Cemetery nearby in Superior. Then in 1898, 24-year-old Charles LeMont Brooks was buried at the cemetery. Over the next 75 years, more than 300 people were laid to rest here. Many lie in graves that are no longer marked and are likely lost to memory. 

There’s the typical mix of family plots, Civil War veterans, and markers with inscriptions like baby, infant, or child. One of the most prominent markers is for Kate Rhodes Roberts. Her family shared a bit of her life with us this inscription: 

Here the body of a noble woman, Kate Rhodes Roberts, wife of David E Roberts, was laid to rest. She was born in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, March 31, 1857, and died at Superior, May 20, 1899, aged forty-two years, leaving friends, husband, and eight children to mourn her untimely end. 

Is the grave humanity’s goal? Do we end in nothing here? It cannot be. Right living and the longings of the soul are not in vain. Death is not annihilation. Our hope of immortality is well founded; for God is just and he disappoints us not. He remembers his children in mercy and calls us at death to the higher life and a better world.   

Kate died from complications after giving birth to her son, Arthur. He was the last person buried in the cemetery in 1973. 

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