Welcome to the first issue of the Red Oak Grove Reporter, a newsletter designed to tell you what’s going on at Red Oak Grove Church and Cemetery and to share some interesting historic facts. This newsletter is published by the Red Oak Grove Cemetery Association Board, for members of the Association and other interested persons. Comments are encouraged; see information at the bottom of Page 2 (reverse side).
The Red Oak Grove Reunion May 18
A cordial invitation is extended to the second annual Red Oak Grove Reunion, scheduled May 18, 2008. Everyone is welcome. A highlight of the 11:00 a.m. service will be music performed by Tipton High School students, plus group singing of old favorite hymns. Jeff Kaufmann, state legislator from Cedar County, will give the message, “A Journey of Faith to Red Oak Grove Church and Cemetery.” A noon potluck dinner will be followed by the annual business meeting at 1:00 p.m. Persons attending the potluck are asked to bring their own tableware and a dish of food to share.
At 2:00 p.m. a cemetery walk will be presented by members of the Soldiers Monument Association of Cedar County. Wearing period costumes to represent individuals buried there, the actors will tell about these people’s lives. This promises to be a very unique and interesting experience. A free-will offering will help to restore the gravesites of veterans in Red Oak Grove and other Cedar County cemeteries.
Looking back to 2007
In 2007, the congregation of Red Oak Grove Presbyterian Church and the Presbytery of East Iowa made the difficult decision to close the historic church, founded in 1841 by ten Scottish pioneers. The final membership roll numbered sixteen. After 165 years of the church’s existence, it was the end of an era — but the beginning of a new one.
On May 20, 2007, the church deed was presented by the Presbytery to the Red Oak Grove Cemetery Association. The Association now has the honor and responsibility of preserving this important part of Cedar County’s heritage, as well as continuing to care for the historic cemetery.
A vision for the future
Red Oak Grove Cemetery is a perpetual care cemetery, dedicated to its upkeep and preservation. The vision is to further enhance the park-like setting of the cemetery and church, complemented by nearby Rock Creek and Red Oak Grove Park, and to obtain formal recognition as a State and National Historic Site. (The park was established in 1884 on five acres of timberland purchased for $125 from James Davidson.)
Cemetery anniversary… This year marks the 160th anniversary of the founding of Red Oak Grove Cemetery. It began January 1, 1848, with a gift of one acre from Charles Dallas. Additional land was given by Robert Dallas,. John Goodrich and R. L. Moore. Today, the cemetery and the church together occupy about eleven acres. Many visitors have commented on the beauty and tranquility of this special place.
Church building is 87… The present Red Oak Grove Church building is the second one on the site. It was designed by Cedar Rapids architects Herbert Rugh and Charles Zalesky, and built in 1920-1921. The cost was $28,000. Dedication services were held May 8, 1921, after two postponements due to weather, including an April 17 blizzard.
(The first Red Oak Grove Church building was completed in 1859.)
Driveway extension project… In the near future, the cement driveway in the south end of the cemetery will need to be extended. This is necessary because at present no hard-surface access is available to the area in which new lots are located. The extended driveway will also improve this part of the cemetery esthetically.
Finding ancestors… Another need the Board wants to address soon is the addition of two kiosks or display boards (one at each end of the cemetery), containing plats to assist visitors. It is frustrating for people who come from some distance to search for relatives’ graves, but then have to leave without being able to find them.
Introducing the Board… Red Oak Grove Cemetery Association Board members are Bob Rickard, president; Mark Penningroth, treasurer; Cecil Mathias; and Keith Whitlatch, all of Tipton or area, and Karen Safley Taylor, secretary, Springville. Cecil is the longest serving member, having been on the Board since 1967.
Gratitude for service… A big thank-you is extended to former Board treasurer Darrel Penningroth and former Board secretary Marjorie Penningroth Stonerook, who left the Board in November 2007. Darrel served for 29 years and Marjorie for seven. Brother and sister, they are descendants of early Red Oak Grove pioneers. We are grateful for their years of service and dedication.
Your opinion counts… If you have comments, ideas, or suggestions, please contact Bob Rickard, Board president, by U.S. mail at P.O. Box 452, Tipton, IA 52772 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d like to hear from you!
Published at Tipton, Iowa, May 2008