The Janesville Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and the Wisconsin Society Colonial Dames 17th Century have combined forces to remember and honor those buried at the Rock County Health Care Center Cemetery, a.k.a. Rock County Poor Farm Cemetery #2, a “potter’s field,” located beside Sportsman’s Park at 3411 N. US Highway 51 in Janesville.
This simple field surrounded by beautiful pine trees and, rather incongruously, large residential homes, can easily be overlooked. However, it is the final resting place for 276 former Rock County residents. The field saw burials between 1894 and 1962. Most individuals buried here were either residents of the poor farm or patients at the Rock County [Tuberculosis] Sanitarium, or the Insane Asylum. Each burial plot is marked with a small concrete marker and a number. Sadly, the names of those buried are not listed on the plots or anywhere on the premises. However, through research conducted by members of the DAR and Colonial Dames, these names were recovered from the Charles Tallman Archives & Research Center.
After recovering these names, DAR and Colonial Dames members began collecting hundreds of silk flowers this spring, bundled them into small bouquets, and then wired them to painted stakes that were placed at each plot on May 21. Each bouquet includes a waterproof placard with the name of the individual buried there, their date of birth and death (when known), and a small epitaph. Through hours of research and bouquet preparation volunteered by DAR and Colonial Dames members, these “forgotten individuals” become known to the world again and their memories are honored.
Due to winter weather, these bouquets are only permitted to be placed in the summer months; bouquets are removed by DAR and Colonial Dames members later in the summer and stored over the winter. However, the DAR and Colonial Dames are considering how to make these installations more permanent with, perhaps, the addition of signage that would include the names and corresponding plot numbers of those buried there. This could be very useful, especially for people visiting the field to locate ancestors.
Be sure to stop by Rock County Health Care Center Cemetery this summer to view the sea of beautiful bouquets and to spend a few moments remembering those buried there. Thank you to the DAR and Colonial Dames for their hard work in bringing this project to fruition.
Click on any of the photos below for a larger view.