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.
|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|
|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|