Old Lake Madison Cemetery

Old Madison Cemetery in the northwest corner of Section 23 of Lakeview township is perhaps the oldest burial place in Lake County. It is located at the east end of the Chautauqua Grounds near the site of Baker's barn, a well-known land mark for early pioneers. Mr. William J. Baker, a progressive settler, who came to Dakota Territory in 1873 and settled on the north shore of Lake Madison, gave the site for the cemetery where he is believed to be buried. Cedar trees were planted among the several headstones placed there.

Since the place was not used for burials after about 1890 the site fell to the ravages of times, weather, and no regular maintenance. Man, himself, finally desecrated the burial place. All remnants of markers have been removed and lakeshore cottages have taken its place. One headstone was saved and placed in Smith-Zimmerman Museum on Dakota State University campus.

This burial site being a part of the Chautauqua Grounds merits a brief history of the Chautauqua itself. The Chautauqua Association bought 60 acres of land at Morena Beach, the entire lake front, including renown Grand View Hotel (which later burned) for $6,000. A stock company was formed at $100 a share. The Chautauqua Assembly opened July 15, 1891 and was a highly successful entertainment center. By 1925 its popularity began slipping and in 1935 the site was s old at a sheriff's auction because of failure to pay the mortgage and taxes. Madison Building and Loan bought the site for $22,721 and in 1945 deeded the property to Lake Madison Resort for $13,000. Lake Madison Resort, Inc. sold lots 12,13, and l4 in Block 15 to Dr. P. M. Rensvold in 1945 for the sum of $1.00.

**From all research it is believed that the following are among the persons who were buried at the cemetery.

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Name Born Died Age Gender Other
Baker, Albert 23 Jan 1876 26 Jan 1876 0 Male Son of William J. Baker
Baker, James E. 18 May 1865 26 Aug 1889 24 Male b. in Hichland Co. WI, son of William J. Baker
Baker, William J. 08 Mar 1829 30 Mar 1880 51 Male b. in Rush Co. IN; d. of consumption
Burke, Mrs. Female Removed to Prospect Cemetery, Chester
Huntimer, ...
Lee, Arthur E. 1867 01 Apr 1871 4 Male Son of William and S. Lee, drowned in Lake Madison
Lee, Earnest May 1876 22 Sep 1878 2 Male Son of William and S. Lee
Lee, Willie L. 1872 17 Nov 1875 3 Male Son of William and S. Lee
Thompson, Edith 1884 Female Dau. James H. and Susan (Baker) 2 year old
Thompson, Sarah 1820 16 Feb 1878 58 Female Wife of George, Removed to Graceland Cemetery
Vine, Grace Female Removed to Prospect Cemetery
Walker, Robert A. Sep 1857 22 Apr 1878 20 Male Son of L. and J. Walker, aged 20 yrs, 7 mo