An apology and explanation is due Father Welsh of the local Catholic church and his congregation. In our observations last week concerning the neglect of the rural cemeteries in Henry county, we included Woodlawn cemetery with Home Bethel and Williford cemeteries all in Center township. While touring the municipal improvements of our community with Mr. Speaker, city manager, the last of the week, mention was made of the condition of the nearby cemeteries. Strange to say, this writer had never visited the Woodlawn burial ground and Speaker not for several years, and it was then in sad neglect. We talked matters over and decided to visit the forgotten graveyard, perhaps a small acre and with no road to it reached only on foot through an adjacent farm.
When we reached the little cemetery, we had a big surprise. Not a tree, not a bush, not a weed. Fence ? with locking gate. Grave stones reset and cleaned. Half a dozen sheep keeping the area closely clipped. Speaker could hardly believe his own eyes. We understand that Father Welsh of the Catholic church instigated the move to care for the sacred spot but it was done so quietly that few people seem to have known of it.
Woodlawn burial ground is owned by the Catholic church. In the early 70s and most the 80s the extensive quarries nearby were worked mostly by Irishmen and up above the quarries a small community was established and known as "Irishtown" but officially named Woodlawn. Most of those employed at the quarries were members of the Catholic church and when death came many of them were buried on the adjacent hillside. Close by were the homes and clear, in short distance, loomed the tall steeple of their church.
It is probable that altogether some fifty men, women and children have been buried in the Woodlawn burying ground. Some of the remains have been removed to other burial grounds but some thirty-five grave stones still stand on the hillside. Many of the older people were born in Ireland and practically all were buried between 1870 and 1888, which was the period when the quarries were in operation. It might be mentioned that Woodlawn burial ground is not in Center township but just within the city limits. On the other hand, Forest home and the Catholic cemeteries are in Center township.
Father Welsh did not stop his program of restoration and improvement of church property with Woodlawn. Extensive and permanent improvements have been made at the Catholic cemetery across the highway from Forest Home. The church also purchased and is now in possession of the entire block on which the church and school stands. The ground leveled off and seeded down where necessary, all brush and weeds removed, trees trimmed, and all buildings put into repair. Also the church has purchased a tract across the street to the south and used it as a parking space for the membership of the congregation.
-- Mount Pleasant News; Mt. Pleasant, Henry, Iowa; October 6, 1947