At first glance, historic cemeteries and barn quilts may seem an unlikely pairing. But both can be seen driving through the driftless region, both involve the culture and history of the area, and both are the subjects of a newly published map! This large, colorful map displays the historic cemeteries on one side, with a similar map of the barn quilts on the other side.
The introduction on the map provides some history on this tradition in the United States and describes some of the reasons barn quilts have been painted. In Winneshiek County, 99 quilts are identified and are arranged on the map in five driving loops, each with a name that tells of a theme along the route. All routes start at the Downtown Decorah Visitor Center.
The description on the map points out that cemeteries “are tangible reminders of settlement patterns and give information about religion, lifestyle, genealogy, as well as historic events that occurred." The map show 92 active and pioneer cemeteries. (In Iowa a pioneer cemetery is defined as a cemetery with 12 or fewer burials over the past 50 years. )
Dedicated volunteers take responsibility to preserve these places. All of the cemeteries are alphabetized and color coded. In addition, an attempt has been made to include all known cemetery names (some of which are known by numerous titles).
Nine Historic Markers found throughout Winneshiek County are also identified and located on the map. This map was paid for in part by the Iowa Tourism Office. Map resources were provided by the following organizations:
- Winneshiek County Historical Society
- Winneshiek County Pioneer Cemetery Association
- Decorah Genealogy Association and Research Library
- Winneshiek County Barn Quilt Committee
- Winneshiek County Convention and Visitors Bureau
These fantastic maps are now available at the Downtown Decorah Visitor Center, 507 West Water St.
Stop in and pick up this valuable resource. Then tour Winneshiek County’s Historic Cemetery and Barn Quilt locations and “enjoy the legacy that remains.”.
Photo source: author