After spending the night in Malvern’s former train depot office, we decided to visit another cemetery before heading east to Villisca. Malvern Cemetery is located just south of town and had a few Find a Grave photo requests, so we headed there.
Originally called Milton, Malvern was founded in 1869. The name was changed to Malvern after it was discovered that another Milton, Iowa existed. Malvern was one of four communities in the area that came to exist after completion of the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad on November 18, 1869.
John D. Paddock and his bride were the first residents of Malvern. Later, Paddock would become one of Malvern Cemetery’s first trustees. Excerpts from his 1917 book “A Brief History of Malvern” were invaluable in writing this post and the next one I am working on now.
Malvern was then and is now largely a farming community with a population of around 1,140. It was going through a bit of a slump by the 1990s but thanks to some grant money and new residents with fresh ideas, Malvern’s experienced a bit of a renaissance. The train depot office we stayed in sits near the Wabash Trace Nature Trail that runs through town and attracts a growing number of cyclists from the region.
In the beginning, the cemetery was called Silver Creek Burying Ground and has also had the names Aurora Cemetery and Calvary Cemetery. But Malvern Cemetery is the name that’s stuck the longest and it is what the place is called today.
The first burial was Eliza Raines who died on May 20, 1857. When the 11-year-old died of pneumonia, her father Henry Raines walked over his land and selected the burial site. Several days later, after the death of his wife, Milton Summers asked if he might bury her near Eliza. Henry Raines died in 1879 and was buried there. On August 26, 1879, a corporation was formed in the name of the Malvern Cemetery Association, and officers and trustees were elected.
At 30 acres, Malvern Cemetery has about 4,400 burials and is well maintained. During out visit, a kind gentleman working on the property came over to ask if we were looking for a particular grave. He told us he and his family had lived in the area for many years and that the community was active in making sure the cemetery was in good shape. We could see that was obviously true.
Malvern Cemetery features something many well maintained Nebraska and Iowa cemeteries have and that’s an up-to-date directory of exactly who is buried where. For a Find a Grave volunteer like me, that is a Godsend. Christi and I fulfilled some FG photo requests that day because of Malvern Cemetery’s excellent directory.
It didn’t take me long to find the tallest monuments in the cemetery. Three distinctive tree-style markers were in the same plot. I’ve rarely seen markers of this variety quite so tall. It was only this week when I started researching them that the tragedy involving two of them came to light.
Born in 1824 in West Virginia, Josiah Coe Wearin was the son of Michael and Mary Ann Coe Wearin. He spent his early years in Ohio. In 1847, he married Olive Smith in La Porte, Ind. By 1860, he and Olive had four children and were farming in Indian Creek, Iowa in Mills County (where Malvern is located). Josiah’s siblings and father eventually moved to Iowa as well.
It is from Paddock’s 1917 book “A Brief History of Malvern” that I found an account of the train accident in St. Charles, Mo. that took the life of Josiah and his son-in-law’s father, Jordan W. Hyde. It is believed that a span of the railroad that crossed the Missouri River collapsed and possibly one of the cars derailed, sending the train crashing into the water.
Paddock confused Jordan’s name with that of Jordan’s son, Richard Warren Hyde. R.W. was soon to be married to Josiah’s daughter, Coloma.
November 8th, at about 8:30 in the evening, occurred the frightful disaster at St. Charles, MO, taking three lives of our own people, bringing great sorrow to our town and the community. Mr. Josiah Wearin, Mr. R.W. Hyde and John Summers, also the life of John Barnet, the brakeman, that brought sorrow to some other homes. Mr. J.M. Strahan and Mr. Fred Davis were also in the caboose car with the others.
Mr. Strahan obeyed quickly the impulse and jumped off from the car into the darkness, miraculously striking astride of the pier timbers to which he clung, while the car in which his companions were, went down in a second of time later into the opened chasm, to the rocks and water 75 feet below. Mr. Davis went down with those who perished, but was wondrously spared his life, with only slight bodily injuries. A span of the bridge gave way under the heavily loaded stock train of 18 cars of cattle which were being shipped to Buffalo NY. John Summers was not killed outright but after hours of suffering, death came to his relief.
The epitaph on Josiah’s monument shares the story of his demise.
Erected by a mourning family of six surviving children and their mother in memory of a kind husband and devoted friend to whom the poor man never appealed in vain. In the prime of his usefulness met an untimely death in the fall of a railroad bridge at St. Charles, Mo. Nov. 8, 1879. Goodbye, goodbye, but not forever.
A native of Franklin, Tenn., Jordan Hyde had ventured west in his younger days and was living in Montana according to the 1870 Census. By the time of the accident, he was widowed and the father of two sons.
His epitaph reads:
Erected by the two surviving sons of a family of five children in memory of father, mother and three infant brothers buried near Hannibal, Mo. Our beloved father came to his untimely death in the midst of his usefulness by the fall of a railroad bridge at St. Charles, Mo. on Nov. 8, 1879. Gone home to meet the loved ones gone before.
R.W. married Coloma in February 1880. Josiah’s wife, Olive, was living with her four other adult children by that time. All of them married and had families. Olive died at the age of 79. Her obituary noted her wealth:
Mrs. Wearin was almost 80 years of age and had lived on the old home farm a mile northwest of Henderson for 50 years. She was without doubt the wealthiest woman in Mills County at the time of her death, being worth probably half million dollars. Among other things, in real estate she possessed 1,500 acres of land along the Nishna valley.
John Summers, who was only 22 at the time, survived the wreck but died a few days later. He’d spent all of his short life in Iowa. He is also buried at Malvern Cemetery, but his marker is far more humble than those of Hyde and the Wearins.
Survivor James Strahan was about 50 at the time of the accident. His wife, Frances, died after a long illness in 1885. James died in 1907 at the age of 70. He is buried at Malvern Cemetery. According to Paddock:
Today, August 14, 1907, while at his work, James Miller Strahan is stricken with death. “God steps in and says thy work is finished.” The eulogy of his life has been ably spoken. We cannot say more. A true and valued friend and citizen has been taken from us.
I did notice that the name of the carvers, which appear to be Connor and Gunella, are on both Josiah and Jordan’s monuments. I could find nothing about them.
I think there must be Wearins still living in the area that visit these graves. This handsome canine is nestled on Josiah’s “Father” marker next to his “tree”.
Since I’ve got John Paddock’s book to guide me, I’ll be back next time to share some more stories from Malvern Cemetery.
“Goodbye, Goodbye, But not forever…”